Beautiful Creatures~ Book Review
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Read January 2010
I was so excited to win a copy of this book. It was one I was really looking forward to reading. That being said, it was nothing like I thought it would be. I really thought it was going to be more creepy…almost spooky, but it wasn’t. There was definitely mystery and things like ghosts and dark forces, but it wasn’t scary. I still enjoyed it though. The whole concept of the book is different from the typical YA paranormal romance of recent times.
I was really impressed with the writing. Even though there are two contributing authors, I couldn’t tell where one started and another stopped. My copy had a few typo’s in it, but it was an ARC. I can’t say if they have been corrected in the final edition or not. They weren’t horrid offenses, things like “the” instead of “they”. The narration had some very lyrical aspects. Telling the story of Ethan and Lena from a male (Ethan’s) POV was actually a pretty refreshing change. The creation of characters such as Amma, Ethan’s surrogate grandmother, and Macon Ravenwood, Lena’s uncle, was absolutely brilliant. They were so quirky and the way their mysterious pasts were slowly unraveled really drew me in.
I also enjoyed the mini history lesson within the book. Because it is set in the south, in a small town of historical fanatics, a very comical town history is built up. In Gatlin, the Civil War…er I mean The War of Northern Aggression, is taken very seriously. Some people may think this is pushing the limits a little bit, but having lived in the south, I have met people like Mrs. Lincoln, one of the story’s most narrow-minded characters. The history of the town plays a large role in the present-day story of Ethan and Lena. The fact that they are both really outsiders comes in to play quite a bit in the story.
The authors did a good job of building excitement and a sense of impending doom, however, I thought there were parts of the story that were unneccessary. There were a few parts that were like trudging through the mud. The constant, “We can’t be together” “Yes we can I love you” “No we can’t I’m bad for you.” “Yes, but I kiss you.” “Okay kiss me but I’m still bad for you”, back and forth got a little tiresome. After about the 3rd time I said out loud, “Okay I get it…it’s a doomed relationship”.
There were parts to the ending that I really wasn’t fond of. ~~~SOME MINI-SPOILERS~~~The narration switching to Lena’s POV for a while? Didn’t like it. I understand that Ethan cannot narrate when he is incapacitated, but the switch just irritated me. In addition, there were some actions taken by both the characters during the ending scenes that I was very puzzled by. They are both portrayed as smart kids, but they did some reaaaaaaally dumb stuff at the end.
There were some things that didn’t bother me, but bothered others it seems. Some said, Ethan was an unbelievable character because he chose to spend time with his elderly aunts among other things. Ethan’s time with his aunts was not really his idea. His mom started the tradition when he was 12 and it just stuck. He even complains that, “The worst part was, I had to take them to church on Saturdays.” It’s clear to me that it is something he feels obligated to do. There is also something to be said about the small-town southern mentality to this as well. Kids are generally more respectful of their elders. Of course, this isn’t all teenagers, southern or otherwise, I just think it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Another thing I saw people disagreeing with also deals with Ethan’s believability. Ethan makes a lot of old literary references. He says in the story that he reads lots of classic novels. The point other reviewers made was that teenage boys aren’t going to know this stuff. Well, both of his parents are professors and writers, so I find it VERY possible that he could make references. Ethan also spent time with his mother in the library growing up. Reading made him feel close to her.
The rumor is that the movie rights have already been purchased by Warner Brothers for Beautiful Creatures. This is a novel that could translate well onto film, if the proper budget is allowed for special effects. The sequel is still in the draft process and I could not find out when it was due for release. I did find out that Beautiful Creatures is meant to be part of a 5 book series. I am looking forward to reading the second in the series when it comes out. Ethan and Lena’s story has grabbed me and I am looking forward to finding out what happens on Lena’s seventeenth birthday.