Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up—which comes with the territory when you’re the human daughter of the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. Isadora is tired of living with crazy relatives who think she’s only worthy of a passing glance—so when she gets the chance to move to California with her brother, she jumps on it. But her new life comes with plenty of its own dramatic—and dangerous—complications . . . and Isadora quickly learns there’s no such thing as a clean break from family.
Blending Ally Carter’s humor and the romance of Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly, The Chaos of Stars takes readers on an unforgettable journey halfway across the world and back, and proves there’s no place like home.
I discovered The Chaos of Stars when I stumbled upon one of its beautiful quotes. I remember reading it, and then promptly bursting into tears. This, dear friends, was the quote:
“I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”
Without context and without any prior knowledge of the book, The Chaos of Stars instantly piqued my curiousity, and I resolved to read it. Expecting the book to be as profound and compelling as the above quote, I picked up The Chaos of Stars with high hopes.
Did The Chaos of Stars meet my expectations? Well, yes and no, and that is both a good and bad thing.
Contrary to my expectations, The Chaos of Stars isn’t terribly profound, and it was not entirely compelling. Instead, I discovered something else: The Chaos of Stars explored love, life, family, and the human condition. Having immortal Egyptian gods as parents would certainly raise a few interesting questions about mortality, especially since Isadora, the protagonist, is mortal in contrast. A flurry of questions arise from this conflict – ‘why do I exist?’, ‘do my parents care about me?’, or ‘do my parents love me?’ – and White offers heartfelt answers to these questions. The conflict also serves as an undertone throughout the novel, and a significant proportion of the story is dedicated to Isadora’s struggle with her mortality.
A common point of contention is that the protagonist is unlikeable and annoying. And whilst I feel like I ought to dislike Isadora, The Chaos of Stars features a protagonist that is difficult to like but is all too relatable. She is a young teenage girl that is trying to come to terms with life and the different perspectives of others – and I could not, cannot, fault her for it. Isadora is comprised of an endless stream of cynicism, quick opinions, familial resentment, stubbornness, a bursting itch for freedom, insecurities, and a naivety that feels familiar. I see my young self in her, I see my younger sibling and my teenaged cousins in her. I see a teenager who is trying to find herself in a world that could batter her and betray her at any moment. Although it is easy to dismiss her as an annoying protagonist, I believe White’s characterization of Isadora is a call to our inner child; the one who is scared, acts on defense, and has barriers around our hearts. I could not help but empathize with Isadora.
The integration of Egyptian mythology was fun in some instances, but lacklustre and shallow in others. In between each chapter are small stories that tell of myth and legend, or more specifically, of Isadora’s dysfunctional and quirky family. The beauty of The Chaos of Stars is that underneath its silly angsty teenage problems with silly teenage tantrums, it is ultimately a quaint novel about family and what it means to be a part of one. It explores the complex dynamics between parent and child, the trials of miscommunication, the process (for both parent and child) of bridging the gap of misunderstanding, and learning how to be a parent and how to be someone’s child. The Chaos of Stars offers a sweet and heartfelt look into the strong connection between parent and child, wherein their lives are intertwined.
The plot, however, is the book’s weakest point. The story is propelled by a mystery, one that is particularly sinister to the protagonist, but that is pretty much all there is. When the plot isn’t concerned, The Chaos of Stars is more thematic and exploratory; it asks a plethora of questions that we may have asked ourselves when we were younger. So for those who love a plot-driven novel, The Chaos of Stars may not be to your tastes. But if you like a book that asks more questions than answers them, and you enjoy gauging with the book’s themes (even if it means you have to do a little searching), then The Chaos of Stars may be a delightful read.
The Chaos of Stars may tread on having writing too vague or too unpolished to be hailed as a good novel, but some of its ideas and messages really hit home. At times the plot is neglected and execution lacks precision, but I cannot deny that there are some small treasures within the story that I really loved and appreciated. At the end of it all, The Chaos of Stars is about growing up and that transformative moment when you understand your parents and their love (however strange), about compassion, and about compromise.
Book Name: The Chaos of Stars
Author: Kiersten White