Starling (Starling, book 1) by Lesley Livingston
HarperTeen, August 28, 2013 (Young Adult, Urban Fantasy)
My rating: Beach vacation
I’ve been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy of Starling and started reading.
Mason Starling is a rising star for her private school’s fencing team and she’s hoping to make the national team. Practicing all that she can and crushing on her fencing partner, Cal, are pretty much her biggest concerns at the moment. She’s had a seemingly charmed life, considering her dad is a millionaire; of course, these rich families always have skeletons in their closets, although Mason doesn’t expect them to jump out and attack her. Or for a naked guy to fall out of a tree in the middle of the storm and fight off zombie creatures. Oh private school; where anything can happen.
It seems that Mason is a descendent and part of an ancient prophecy that spells out the end of the world. It’s part of the Norse mythology for Ragnarok that states:
One tree. A rainbow bird wings among the branches.
Three seeds of the apple tree, grow tall as Odin’s spear is,
gripped in the hand of the Valkyrie.
They shall awaken, Odin Sons, when the Devourer returns.
The hammer will fall down onto the earth to be reborn. (p. 98)
Apparently Mason and her brothers are part of this prophecy, although Mason is left in the dark about her ancestors while both her older brothers have the inside scoop. Instead Mason’s cloistered at Gosforth Academy, where all the other students are descendents of servants for the gods of mythology. Some seem to be aware of this fact, but others, like Mason, don’t have a clue. But, when this prophecy starts to unravel, Mason and others start to see some strange and monstrous characters in New York City.
Overall, I thought Starling was okay. It was entertaining and there was some funny moments, but I felt that the story wasn’t original. This mythology mix has been done before and so has the prep school motif. For me, I didn’t think there was really anything that stood out for me that made Starling markedly different from other stories that I’ve read. So while there wasn’t anything really wrong with the story, I did feel that it fell flat for me because of the unoriginal theme.
I did like the characters and the writing style of the book. In my opinion there are not enough teen books that show multiple points of views. I thought this technique was extremely appropriate for Starling considering that many characters had different levels of understanding of the prophecy and the existence of magic and gods. The focus was definitely on Mason and her romantic lead, The Fennrys Wolf (a.k.a. naked guy), but I thought the inclusion of multiple points of view kept Starling interesting enough for me that I could continuing reading something that I wasn’t completely invested in.
As for the secondary characters that readers get to know, I have to say I really hope we get to see a turn around with Rory Starling, Mason’s middle brother. I’m getting an Edmund from Chronicles of Narnia vibe here, and I’m hoping that Rory’s not all bad, although this may be wishful thinking. As for the rest of the secondary characters, I really liked Roth Starling (the eldest brother), Cal (Mason’s crush), and Heather (the token gossip queen). At this point these characters are not completely fleshed out and are somewhat stereotypical, but I would love to see these characters grow a little in book 2, so fingers crossed. Because of the wide array of characters, I think Starling will have appeal to both guys and girls; however, the feminine cover may turn away some readership.
Ultimately, I liked the book, but I’m not inclined to rave about it, and I think only finishing the trilogy will tell me whether or not I’ll be recommending this trilogy to friends and teen readers.
Valkyrie Rising: If you’re liking the Norse mythology focus of Starling, check this one out.
The Girl with the Steel Corset: More uber-rich teens with magic – but they’re living in steampunk London. it’s such a cool series, and only gets better with each book.
The Nightmare Affair: Private school with magical students, only these students know what’s what. Much more of a mystery focus here.