The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

chaos of stars

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.

Rating: 2.5/5

Book Information
Book Name: The Chaos of Stars
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: eBook

The Chaos of Stars on:
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | My review on Goodreads

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14 thoughts on “The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

  1. This sounds like a really interesting book — any book about difficult families is pretty much right up my alley, especially since parent-child relationships don’t feature that much in what I tend to pick up to read. Seems like this one is also more of a ‘feelings and emotions!’ book rather than ‘action and plot!’ one.

    Great review, CW! And as always I am in love with your graphics. <3

    • Thank you so much Reg!
      I think you might like it, though go in without high expectations. I really had to do a lot of *searching* to find its good qualities, but I think the extra effort was worth it. And yes, you’re right! There definitely aren’t many portrayals of family. I find that parents are either malevolent, absent, or unconditionally supportive – which is fine, but they lack complexity.

      Thank you again! I was really happy with how this graphic turned out. ^_^

  2. This book sounds interesting. It’s contemporary but does it have a touch of fantasy as well?
    Tt’s hard to love a book if the main character is not likable. I salute you for even getting to the end. Haha! But, the way you describe it, she seems like the normal teenager, obnoxious, trying to conquer the world.

    I love that despite the low rating you gave on this book, you still pointed out the good parts :D

    • I think I’d best describe it as magical realism YA. The mythology of the book is intertwined with the story and the characters, but it explores very YA ideas!

      It is hard! Usually if I don’t like a character, I won’t really like the book, but Isadora just really reminded me of what I was like when I was young – angsty and arrogant. X’D And yes, obnoxious. Ooh boy!

      Thank you!! I try. I think every book has good and bad qualities, and unless it’s a downright offensive book, I think it’s respectful to the writer to try and highlight the good. ^u^;

  3. CW, this is such a well-written review! Everything flows smoothly, and you’ve brought out some positives, despite giving it a low rating :)
    I don’t think I’ll read it, just because I’ve also had some bad experiences with other Kiersten White books…but it sounded so interesting, when you mentioned that it explored life, family and the human condition!

  4. I first add it to my tbr because, well, just look at that cover! And I was in my mythology reading mood. But I never actually picked it up and it just collecting dust :/ This review really piqued my interest in it again, I didn’t expect this book to be so complex and deep! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Tasya! It’s such a beautiful cover, right? *u*
      It’s pretty deep, but I do believe that you have to really dig deep to find it, or find meaning within the story! At face value, I don’t think it’s something that can be easily appreciated, but I found soo many small things that I loved.

      I hope that when you read it, you’ll enjoy it!

  5. Oh my, that quote. It was so beautiful, I just want to read it again and again forever. This book sounds quite interesting, I really like contemporaries, as you know, and I’d be very interested to see the family struggles in that one. I’m a little scared though, because of the unllikeable character. She seems relatable, from what you said, and I’m sure, just like you, I could see myself in her a few years earlier… I don’t know, I just feel a bit unsure about tht point. But I like the whole immortal/mortal idea, it really brings something different to an “ordinary” contemporary, if I can put it like that. Might have to think about it a while, but, to be honest, I wanted to read it just because of the quote you shared already…does that make me shallow? Haha. Thank you for this great review, and, as always, wonderful art <3

    • Don’t worry lovey, the only reason why I read the book was because of the quote! So, if I’m shallow, be shallow with me! XD

      I would describe it as a magical realism with YA themes. It’s sort of sweet, in a weird way?

      I know what you mean with regards to the unlikeable character thing! I know it definitely doesn’t make the book any more appealing, but there are some good qualities in the book despite! ^_^

      I wouldn’t give it a strong recommendation because this book wouldn’t appeal to a lot of people, but if you feel up to it, I say go for it! Who knows – maybe you will like it? :)

  6. I think this book then might be a more character driven novel than a plot driven novel. I love both so I might give this one a shot. Family themes are always really important to me because family is really who makes you, you! It’s so important to know what a good supporting family can do and what an unsupportive family can do because we can all learn from it.

    I understand, though, how the lack of a good fleshed out plot might bother readers especially if it sounds like a more plot driven novel from the blurb (at least that’s what I thought). I think if I read it thinking it was plot driven and it wasn’t, I’d be disappointed too.

  7. That’s definitely a memorable quote. I rarely pick up contemporaries but that quote alone would make me read this book too. Isidora sounds snarky, and I feel like I’d get tired and annoyed with her, lol, but I do like books that make me think or try and find the hidden message. Plus, I’d love to find out more how this book handled the family relationships, which I feel has been lacking in YA these days. Great review!

  8. I’m sorry to hear that the Egyptian mythology wasn’t that great overall. And most times the plot is everything so I’m also sorry to hear that was dull. I’ve read Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy a few years ago and can’t really remember if I liked it (maybe it wasn’t that memorable then, haha). Despite the intriguing premise, I’m not sure if this book is for me. (Also, for some reason I’m not really interested in Egyptian lore? I tried the Kane Chronicles years and years ago but couldn’t get into them like Percy Jackson…) But once again, beautiful artwork and lovely review, Chooi! <3

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