Josephine Angelini: “Dreamless”

Dreamless  Dreamless

“Want to fight me, foolish Sky Hunter? Caution! I invented war. War, little beauties, I invented it.”

YA Novel
Pages: 496
First Published: 2012

Synopsis: Can true love be forgotten?

As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out – a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds all expectations.

Review: So I hope you guys aren’t trying to avoid reading spoilers for this book, because this entry is full of them.

To start, I liked Dreamless rather better than Starcrossed. Helen’s nightmare trips to the Underworld were my favourite parts of the first book, and I was stoked to see them featured prominently in the sequel. Angelini’s writing is never beautiful, but it’s much better in the Underworld sequences than anywhere else, and her creativity is put to better use. There’s an early scene I enjoyed where Helen finds herself trapped in a dusty old house with no exit, and it was good and creepy. Another thing that was expanded to good effect here is the fighting between Lucas and Hector; it was also given more emotional weight. And I can even say that I liked most of the new characters, the easily likeable Orion and the sadistic and creepy Ares especially. The sequence that features Ares’ first appearance is easily my favourite of the series so far.

But.

Dreamless has fewer similarities with Twilight than its predecessor, but it is still most definitely this series’ New Moon, in that the super perfect love interest breaks up with the protagonist and a new guy steps in to start a poorly handled love triangle. Is it weird that I feel I have to give Dreamless some sort of credit for allowing its protagonist to continue on with her life instead of sinking into a horrible, months-long depression upon learning that it’s over? Unfortunately, New Moon might still win this round, because where Edward gives a reason for the break-up, Lucas just starts yelling at Helen (at what must seem to her like) out of the blue. They still have to see each other to discuss Helen’s quest, so he spends most of the book trying to push her away by doing such things as knocking her (and his cousins) off a bench and onto the floor, screaming at her that she doesn’t “have the RIGHT to sit next to” him, hitting his father and injuring his mother in front of her, using his demigod power of flight to carry her up so high above the earth that she can barely breathe, and throwing her to the ground so hard that “she cried out as she twisted her wrist.” Oh, and he’s still following her and sneaking into her house at night without her knowledge. The entire time, the audience is told that he loves her and is acting this way for her supposed benefit, but if you think that makes it okay I am going to have to strongly disagree. NONE OF THIS BEHAVIOUR IS OKAY. The fact that Helen unquestioningly takes him back without ever even commenting on his actions is, to put it mildly, extremely frustrating. That the third book will undoubtedly feature a love triangle is absurd. Still, I will be surprised if the story isn’t set up so that Helen has to make a choice between Lucas, who’s hurt her – on purpose – both physically and emotionally, and Orion, who … has not. And, with Lucas as the Paris character and Orion as the Aeneas character, I will also be surprised if she doesn’t choose Lucas, although it will be AWFUL when she does.

The cherry on the top of all this is the reason why Lucas pushes Helen away. In Starcrossed, we are told that Lucas and Helen can’t be together because it would unite their demigod families, thus breaking a truce with the gods and starting a new Trojan War. Okay, cool. That’s a pretty good reason to avoid a relationship. Later in the book we learn that this doesn’t apply to their current situation, BUT they still can’t be together because Helen has been told that Lucas’ uncle Ajax is her real father, making them first cousins, and the children born to demigod cousins always go insane. (The example given for this is “Oedipus’s daughter, Electra,” leading me to believe that the characters are lying every time they claim to have read the Oresteia.) The huge problem I have with this is that the audience knows that it’s a lie. It is mentioned multiple times throughout Starcrossed that Helen is seventeen and her supposed father died nineteen years ago. And just in case you didn’t realize for yourself that Ajax can’t be Helen’s father, a character says it out loud. And just in case you missed it there, in Dreamless Helen’s mother tells us again. A full half of the plot of this book is based on a lie that the audience knows is a lie, and the only thing stopping the characters from figuring out that it’s a lie is that, despite all the angsting they do over Helen and Lucas being cousins, not a single one of them has taken a second to subtract seventeen from nineteen. It’s completely ridiculous, and the idea that anyone involved with this series could think it makes for suspenseful reading actually makes me a little angry.

And now, a selection of passages I hated.

Claire … undid the misaligned buttons on Helen’s pesky jacket and then redid them correctly. “You look like a dyslexic five-year-old.”

Apparently dyslexia affects your ability to dress yourself now?

For the first time Helen could remember, Castor used an English curse word, and a foul one at that …

“Foul curse” is what Angelini uses in place of anything more offensive than “damn.” Every time someone swears in this series I feel like they’re putting a hex on someone.

“Claire and I didn’t join PETA’s most wanted list for nothing, you know.”

A Myrmidon is stalking Helen. They refer to it as her “ant problem.” And … PETA keeps a list of people who have killed ants?? Get it???

“And we should know [the number of people who’ve walked on the moon]! We’re Americans!”
“Well, officially I’m Canadian.”
“Close enough!” Helen said, waving an enthusiastic hand in the air.

Orion is Canadian and this Canadian blogger was down with that until this happened. HELEN HAMILTON CARES NOT ABOUT YOUR ACTUAL NATIONALITY

“You know what, Matt? You’re becoming quite a badass.”

You keep using that word.

Pumpkin pancakes were a favorite of Jerry’s and Helen’s, but around Halloween, which was only about a week and a half away, anything with pumpkin in it was on the menu. It was sort of a competition between the two of them. It started with roasted pumpkin seeds and went all the way to soups and gnocchi. Whoever found a way to sneak pumpkin into a dish without getting caught was the winner.
The whole pumpkin thing had started when Helen was a little girl. One October she’d complained to her dad that pumpkins only got used as decoration, and although she loved jack-o’-lanterns, it was still a big waste of food. Jerry had agreed, and the two of them resolved to start eating pumpkins instead of just carving them up and then throwing them out.
Unfortunately, they found that pumpkins on their own are so bland they’re practically inedible. If they hadn’t gotten creative with the cooking, they would have given up on their Save the Pumpkins crusade after the first year.
There were a lot of nauseating creations, of which the pumpkin popsicles were by far the worst, but the pancakes stood out as the biggest success. They instantly became as large a part of the Hamilton family tradition in October as turkey was on Thanksgiving.

WE GET IT ANGELINI YOU LIKE PUMPKINS

There is more that I might say about this book, but it’s easier for me just to tell you that I don’t recommend it.

And now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go find a book that recognizes the value of a beautiful line of prose.

Buy it at: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca

Hell didn’t need lakes of fire to torment.
Time and solitude were enough.

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2 Responses to “Josephine Angelini: “Dreamless””

  1. “It’s completely ridiculous, and the idea that anyone involved with this series could think it makes for suspenseful reading actually makes me a little angry.”

    Shit like that pisses me off, too. It’s like, no, novel, you actually do have to try. You don’t get points just for showing up.

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