Monday, September 13, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
hardcover, 563 pages

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she' 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 from Goodreads

Casters. The word is so simple, and it is an original paranormal creature that I have not read or heard about in a paranormal book before. That, on it's own, was a major plus of this book. The introduction was entrancing, starting the story off with dreams. Ethan Wate, a high-school aged boy from Gatlin, South Carolina, starts to have heart-thumping, blood-rushing dreams-or more like nightmares. He dreams that he is falling, tumbling through air, and there is a girl falling with him, screaming for help. But there is nothing he can do, for every time he tries to reach for her all he grabs is air. It is at this part in the dream when he usually wakes up, hot and sweaty. This beginning is quite the introduction, and now I know that there is a special girl out there he will be searching for.
The southern setting is important to the story in a way such that there is quite a bit of the book that has to do with historical references to the civil war, and it also includes a group of women called the Daughters of the Revolution - DAR. Two of the minor antagonists in the story, Emily, Savannah and their mothers as well are part of the club.
Ethan and Lena's meeting is not too cliche, rushed of forced. - Many small sections of the meeting may have seemed fake, such as the thunderstorm and high winds, but I later realized that it was truly not a pathetic attempt at making the "love at first sight" situation more tense than it was. It was just a relation to Lena and her powers, which include the ability to control the weather depending on her emotions.
But now the good, positive review stops here.

Lena is an odd girl. She owns a hearse, which she drives regularly. I would have been more than creeped out if I saw a boy or girl driving a hearse to school. Of course, the loving boyfriend Ethan doesn't seem to mind. However, I find this slightly contradicting because Ethan is a popular, jock-style teenager. Perhaps I am being too confident here, but I know as a fact that popular sporty boys have no interest whatsoever in the dead and deceased, and would immediately judge a girl driving a hearse in a bad way. So, how Ethan doesn't even complain once about the hearse seems all too unrealistic. Also, Ethan is curiously over committed to Lena. He is so obsessed with her that he is completely undevoted to himself and his values he treasured before he met Lena. After the two of them meet, he loses all his friends and he doesn't show the slightest hint that he misses them or would like to be friends with them again. He is so entranced that he even quits the basketball team, along with his potential college scholarship that may have come if he stayed true to the team. There were numerous accounts of the normal, repetitive components of the average teenage/paranormal book:
1)The meeting of the main characters. Of course C1 meets C2 and starts creeping on them. C2 tries to avoid C1 at all costs, and usually refers to calling them bad names and giving them the silent treatment.
2) The beater. Link's- Ethan's best friend- car. Of course, it's the typical old terrible car that always rattles and coughs and wheezes and just barely manages to start the engine. Every teenager in every story seems to have one of those.
3) Link is the classic best friend. Of course, when all of Ethan's other friends ditch him because he starts hanging out with Lena, Link is still there. It's not that I don't appreciate Link for doing that, but why is it always just one friend? And what makes that friend want to stick with Ethan? It is never mentioned in the story.
4) When C1 or C2 realizes that the other is a paranormal, there is chapters and chapters of explanations about their abilities. TMI!!!

The plot itself is not awful. In fact, it is, to say the least, entertaining and mysterious. There is only one main problem. Ethan Wate. Man, do I have a problem with this boy. He is an all around nuisance. He is shallow, lacks description, and is underdeveloped. He has little to no voice, which results in why I do not feel the strong connection between him and Lena. Yes, there is lots of romance, but never can I place myself in their situation and understand their love. Their personalities, thoughts and feelings are almost completely absent. I suppose I slightly understand the decent writing because it is two women writing from the perspective of a teenage boy, but there were most definitely several parts they could have polished or cut out. For example, on page 223:
" I was sure I wanted to kiss her again, but it would have to wait. If Marian had the answers we needed, I'd have a lot more chances to kiss her.
I ran through my playbook again. Pick 'n' Roll."
Tell me thats not tacky. Isn't it just wrong for Ethan, such a charming boy, to think of life and girls as basketball plays? No, I'm sorry, but I don't understand how a Pick 'n' Roll metaphorically would help them find the answers or allow more kissing time.
I wouldn't say Beautiful Creatures was a waste of time, however, I also would not say it is a good use of time either. I do plan on reading Beautiful Darkness when it comes out, but I intend to place it near the bottom of my to-read list.

3.5 Beasts


anjohnston said...

I'm sorry to read you didn't like this novel. I had heard good things about it mostly but you brought up some interesting points. Thanks for the review!

angelatarantula said...

your welcome! Yes, there has been quite a bit of talk about this book. I was disappointed to read it and realize it was barely different from the many other paranormals I have read.

Lesa said...

Check it out your book review was choosen for this weeks book review of the week,.

Katie said...

This is the first negative-ish review that I've read of Beautiful Creatures! I love some variety in my blog reading :) I haven't read it yet, and while I probably will eventually... I don't feel any great rush. Thanks for stopping by Book Love! So far, I love The Book Buzzer :)

Kelli (I'd So Rather Be Reading) said...

Oh, thank you! I felt the same way about this one---except I gave it 1.5 stars and couldn't even finish it. I hated Ethan's personality!!! I thought the book was so boring! So glad someone else understands me! :)

Name: Aine said...

I really liked this book. And BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS is even better. I read an ARC a while back.

And I loved Ethan. He was so sweet and charming, in my opinion. He gave up everything for Lena because he knew she was the one, his soul mate.

But what I loved most about the book was the flashbacks and the history of these characters. I loved Amma and Macon, and Ethan's crazy aunts. And, of course, Ridley!

Sorry you didn't like it very much. Hopefully, you like the next one more.

Steph said...

This is a really interesting review -- it is obvious you really thought long and hard. There is about the same amount of weirdness between Bella and Edward's relationship - brought down to some form of chemistry. It made me think of the odd girl in 6 ft Under- she drove a hearse. And, when I was growing up a guy drove one in our neighborhood and it was funny; quirky -but that was the 1960s.
A weird/chubby/curly hair/straight hair/unpopular girl with a hot guy is a common theme in PNR/UF/regular romance and YA although there is usually a scene between the guy and his friends, so that is strange. This is not way up there on my TBR so, I am going too have to take your take and that of others. Great job!!!!

Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
twitter: @fangswandsfairy

Katie said...

I completely agree! Ethan was way to clingy, the hearse was just too strange and Link was just so stereotypical.
Great review :)

brandileigh2003 said...

I think I would have enjoyed it more than I already did if Lena was narrator, but I actually liked ethan- I just prefer female pov or at least alternating.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

undomesticated said...

I love to see different view points. It was nice to see an honest review on your part. You brought light to many valid point sof the story- I personally enjoyed the book, it took me a few days to get past the first few chapters but then I couldn't put it down. I agree about the Hearse though it was just too odd, However I loved the southern setting!
Great Review!

Looking forward to more!

danya said...

I also thought Ethan was obsessed with Lena to the point of being very irritating, and I also thought that the magic in the book really wasn't well thought-out or explained. I've read so many extremely positive reviews of this one that I'm happy to see I'm not alone in noticing some shortcomings!