December 22, 2012

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Release Date: December 1st, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Page Count: 563
Source: Borrowed from the Boston Public Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.At least, that's what I thought.Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.There was a curse.There was a girl.And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
I know everyone either loves or hates this one. And yet, somehow, at the end of it all, I found myself somewhere in the middle. When I finished this book, I just wasn't as moved as I thought I would be. Yeah, it has a lot of things I love: romance, magic, contemporary and more, but at the end of it all I was kind of underwhelmed.

Let's break this down:

There are a lot of things I loved about this book and a bunch of things that really just didn't do it for me. As such, for this review, to clarify what's going on in my head, I figured lists would be a good idea.

What I loved:

The characters. Ugh. All of them. At the end, I even liked Ridley and Mrs. Lincoln. (Ok, maybe I didn't like Larkin and Sarafine, but they are the villains.) I think my favorite is Lena. She has this terrible awful coming for her and she STILL manages to keep it together (for the most part). Furthermore, she doesn't ditch Ethan. They work together and make their relationship work because they love each other. For realsies. It's really because of this that I buy it their relationship, even though it kinda comes at you hard and fast at the beginning of the book.

I also really enjoyed the plot. High school and magic and doomed futures oh my! Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl really take the melodrama behind high school and legitimize it. I like that, considering I was a fairly melodramatic teenager. I especially like that this book took place in a contemporary setting with the magical aspect overlaid on top of it. I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned this once or twice, but I love a good contemporary mixed with something a little different, whether it be paranormal, fantastical or other.

SPEAKING of the contemporary setting in the book: I love books about/set in the South. I love the old houses, the DAR, the War Reenactment, the way they're so neighborly but not and just about everything else. Granted, I've never been to a town like Gatlin so I don't know how accurate the picture portrayed is, but I really enjoyed reading about it.

And then there's the POV. I love Ethan. Do I think he's a little mature for a 16 year old boy? Yes. But then again, he was raised on books by two writers and his mom died. And then there's Amma. So it's pretty legit that he behaves the way he does. But even if Ethan were immature or boyish or what have you, I would still like the fact that this book is from his perspective. He knows just as much about all this magical stuff at the start of the book as the reader does. This gives us a chance to really figure out what's going on, instead of getting thrown into the story and being expected to figure it out. Although I'm not totally sure I get his Mortal status. I'm gonna need some more on that.

What I didn't love as much:
The book moved a little slowly. Even though we spent a lot of time learning what we needed to learn through Ethan, which was great, I felt like a lot of the scenes were overemphasizing a point (like how little Gatlin likes Lena) that had already been made five times over. Only at the beginning and the very end to I feel like we got hit by a lot of stuff happening one after the other. Everything else was like an unnecessarily slow, lazy stroll. 

And then there's that ending. It's is full of all this running and yelling and danger and I'm like, NOW you're rushing things? Really? This is when I need you to slow down and let the evil villain make their grand speech since you didn't really explain what was up with her in the first 500 pages of the book.

Which leads me to my next issue: CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT IS UP WITH SARAFINE? Her character is basically a blip on the radar for most of the book (except for that ONE scene in the middle) and then at the end it's like, WOAH. It was kind of sudden and vaguely upsetting and I just don't know enough. It has me feeling all "what the what"? I know there are 3 more books to the series but I should feel at least a little more closure right now, right?

I also don't get this whole Light vs. Dark thing. First of all, the concept it kind of cliche. Second of all, it's a little ridiculous that you have this great power and you can only be really good or really bad. But then we find out that it's not just good or bad since there are characters like Macon and Ridley who defy this very rigid either/or set up. Like, just because Lena's power is the strongest, she falls deeper down the rabbit hole and gets stuck? Ridley seems pretty powerful to me, so I don't know.

Not to mention, what's up with Lena and her placement at the end? I feel like Lena and Ethan are exceptions to not just one but EVERY rule the authors create in this story. One would be fine - that's why they would be important enough to write a story about - but multiple passes? I don't buy it. Unless they're all interconnected. But again, almost 600 pages and we just don't know. That's a long book for the reading to just not know at the end, sequels or not.

The long and short of it?

Plot: I'm curious, so I might read the next book, but I'm not dying to read it right this second.
World Building: Pretty good, but I just don't know enough about the magical side of it yet.
Character Development: Barring one or two problem people, I love 'em all.
Prose: Magically delicious (see what I did there?)
Would I Recommend This Book?: It's a decent read, but on the longer side. If you're looking to get invested, go for it. The movie's coming out soon too, so even more incentive. Otherwise, it might not be worth your time.


  1. This book majorly creeped me out the first time I read it. I want to reread it again in time for the movie! :)

    1. SUPER creepy indeed. I can't wait to see the movie! :)


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