Monday, 12 July 2010

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

In Gaitlin, South Carolina, 16 year old Ethan Wate has been having some crazy dreams. Dreams about a beautiful girl with amazing green eyes whom he always fails to save from great danger. Waking up from these dreams leaves Ethan wet and sometimes with mud under his fingernails.

When Lena Duchannes moves into town, everyone begins to talk as she is the niece of the crazy man who lives at Ravenwood. The whole school is speculating over whether she is hot or not but when Ethan sees her for the first time, he realises that she is the girl of his dreams, in the literal sense. Strange things begin to happen quickly after her arrival and the whole town are quick to point the finger at her. Ethan sees something different in Lena though and begins to take her side over friends that he has known his whole life, also pushing him into unpopularity.

Lena's family are different from the rest in Gaitlin. As soon as she befriends Ethan, they find themselves caught up in a curse that has followed her family around for centuries and time is running out for them to solve it and save Lena's life.

My Opinion
What really got me about this story was that parts were so real, aside from all the magic of course. What made the story so real was the setting and the history of the town. There is high school drama and bitchiness, quirky members of the neighbourhood and dysfunctional family gatherings from both sides. Some of the things that were happening sounded exactly like what a tiny town in America would be like, where everyone knows everything that is going on.

The plot was fantastic and I loved a lot about it. There were quite a few surprises along the way and enough twists to keep me guessing which is something that I always like. My biggest problem with the plot was that it moved along at a very unsteady pace. At times there is a lot of action happening but then it switches to a long time without any and at nearly 600 pages, it is a long read anyway. I would have been happier if there had been some more excitement inbetween the action scenes just to help keep my interest. It becomes clear early on that Ethan and Lena are inexplicably linked but the story doesn't reveal the real reasons why for quite a while.

The authors spend a lot of time describing Gaitlin and made it possible to picture myself in the world that I was reading about. Gaitlin is a Southern, old fashioned town but it also has plenty of secrets, ones that I didn't see coming at all. Nothing really seemed out of place about the setting as all of the characters fit in perfectly.

Beautiful Creatures is told from Ethan's point of view which makes a change from a lot of the YA novels that I have read recently. Normally it is the guy that has everything going on but this time, the roles are reversed. Due to this, there is a lot of testosterone flying around between Ethan and his basketball buddies which gave the story a different feel.

There is a lot of mythology and history behind this story which was something that I really enjoyed. Most of the books that I've been reading recently have been about werewolves or faeries etc so this change was really good. The whole history and reasoning behind the 'casters' was fascinating to read and one of the main reasons why this book had me hooked.

The main characters had quite a few inconsistencies. As Ethan is supposed to be a 16 year old boy, you'd expect him to at least think like one. Nothing about him screamed teenager to me so it was quite hard to like him. Ethan and Lena spend a fair amount of time alone together in their bedrooms and under the covers but they do nothing more than kiss. At least Bella and Edward had the sex talk. It came across as extremely unbelievable and I think the books target audience would agree. I know a lot of YA authors make their books really tame but this also makes them unrealistic. I'm sure late teenagers can handle some mild sex scenes.

Although Ethan was a sweet, caring kid, he was a complete idiot. At one point, his best friend, Link, begins to hang out with Lena's hot but evil cousin and Ethan knows just how bad she is. He doesn't even really warn Link against her and doesn't try to stop him when he says that they're going away together for a few days. If that was me and my best friend, I would have smacked him over the head before letting him go off with someone evil and scary. Stupid unrealistic boy.

Lena was more convincing than Ethan but only just. She knows that everything is about to change but she just wants to be normal for a while. All she has ever wanted was to fit in at school and make friends, which was the most believable part of her. For the most part, she did seem like a normal teenage girl who didn't want a bad high school experience. She was also quite funny at times, especially when she uses her powers to play practical jokes on the cheerleaders. That's something that I can imagine myself doing.

While there were so many things that I really liked about this book, there was a lot that I was very unsure about. Knowing that there is a sequel puts my mind at ease a bit though, giving me hope that the little things that bugged me will have been fixed.


Tammy said...

Great review! I just finished this book myself so I was very excited to read your review. I too had some mixed feelings on some points of story. I'm very interested to see what the sequel brings.

Dwayne said...

I actually admire Ethan because he's not such a boy. He doesn't make a move on her and that's sweet (though I don't mind if he does -let's hope in book 2) I agree he's more mature than his age but Lena needs a guy like that - I love them both!

Unknown said...

Great review. I did not like Beautiful Creatures at all, and in fact gave up 119 pages in. I'm happy to see that someone else had some reservations about it too!

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