Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown
Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Pages: 563
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: December 1, 2009
How Received: Library

SummaryLena 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.

My Thoughts:
Because of the hype surrounding the release of Beautiful Darkness (and because it was finally in my library, sitting all nice on a shelf waiting for me to pick it up), I picked up a copy of Beautiful Creatures. As I’m sure most of you know, I don’t read summaries before I tackle books – I like being in the dark.

Being in the dark on the whole plot, I was terrified throughout the entire novel. I spook easily (and it doesn’t help that while I was reading at 2AM, my house started creaking and making weird sounds) so the whole mystery about Lena and the danger pursuing her paralyzed me with fear. But I felt cheated at the end – my fear had no reason or base. We basically read through 500 pages of speculation and what-ifs and Lena’s upcoming birthday, just to get a resolution that barely lasts 40 pages. I feared the antagonist for that long to only get 40 pages of... talking? Saraphine didn’t even seem like a threat. I’m supposed to assume the Darkest Caster that ever lived will go down as the way she did? I felt cheated.

While I read this book, I was engaged in the plot but I was never excited about it. I felt indifferent, detached, even though I was still caught up in Gatlin and the Caster world. I was more interested in Casters than I was in Ethan’s and Lena’s relationship or Ethan’s lengthy internal monologues.

This book was huge. I felt like a lot of it could have been cut, as a lot of the events weren’t really necessary to the main plot or character/romantic development. When I see a huge book, I expect something like Harry Potter – a good plot that balances between a fast and slow pacing. This book didn’t balance pacing – it was just slow all around. Again, if I want to read 563 pages of a book, I expect most of it to be worth my time, and I didn’t feel that with this book. Don’t get me wrong. The back-stories and history revolving Gatlin was great; the redundancy in the events and in the conversations was not.

I had conflicts with Ethan’s personality. While I loved the whole idea that everything about Gatlin bored him because he had lived there his whole life (because I can empathize), he was so feminine! Kami and Margaret wrote him like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. When I think of male narrator written by female writer, I think of (again) Harry Potter. At least in HP it was done well and believable. But I couldn’t believe that Ethan would be able to tell the differences between smell, or that he’d care enough about girls’ clothing or their prom dresses, or that he’d give vibrant details about a town he supposedly despises being in. He’s a teenage boy – they absolutely do not think those things! Overall, he was gentlemanly and almost chivalrous at times, but it was too hard to believe he was so good that he was adverse to normal teenage boy behavior.

Lena... ugh. That sums up what I thought of her very well. One time of her whining and moping around about her upcoming birthday, okay sure, I understand why she’s nervous. Second time, third time, fourth... FIFTEENTH. I get that she’s terrified of becoming dark, but that fact is reiterated almost every page. It gets repetitive and annoying after a while. Every time she came up (and it happened a lot since Ethan was so obsessed with her), I had to groan and prepare for a dull read about another whiny rant.

Yet despite all of these things, I couldn’t help but love the book. Maybe it was the relationship – it actually developed and the two weren’t all over each other the instant they saw each other – or maybe even the mystery or intrigue that pulled me in, or maybe that I’m just a sucker for dangerous romances. Either way, I loved the history behind Gatlin and enjoyed seeing how elements of the Caster World could be interweaved into this small little southern town. Even Ethan charmed me at times (but only because I’m a sucker for the good-boy types, even unbelievable ones). There was a substantial amount of wit and humor, and a plethora of quirky characters who were hard to not love. The plot, which involved witches (casters), was unique and I found myself wanting to learn more about the Caster world than we were exposed to.

Lastly, some random stuff. I had some mad BOO RADLEY LOVE going on! And was happy when I saw Kami and Margaret use “fixin’” – I had only recently learned that it meant “getting ready to do so and do” because of my recent trip to Texas, so I got all excited when I knew what it meant. I felt in the know.

Cover Musings: The font is insanely pretty. I love the dark background, as well, because I think it sets up the mood nicely – dark, ominous. I couldn’t help but picture those trees in Amma’s front yard during the midnight scene with Macon!

Memorable Quotes:
There were only two kinds of people in our town. “The stupid and the stuck,” my father had affectionately classified our neighbors. “The ones who are bound to stay or too dumb to go. Everyone else finds a way out.” (pg. 1)
The girl was falling. I was falling. I had to hold on, but I couldn’t. If I let go, something terrible would happen to her. But that’s the thing. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t lose her. It was like I was in love with her, even though I didn’t know her. Kind of like love before first sight. (pg. 5)
“I was gonna ask Amma, but when I showed her the locket her eyes almost fell out of her head. Like it was triple hexed, soaked in a bucket of voodoo, and wrapped in a curse for good measure.” (pg. 113) 
I was almost relieved it was Saturday. There was something comforting about spending the day with women whose only magical powers were forgetting their own names. (pg. 332)
I could hear the sound but I could not understand the words
and then I realized the sound was me, breaking
in one moment I was feeling everything and I was feeling nothing
I was shattered, I was saved, I lost everything, I was given
everything else
something in me died, something in me was born, I only knew
the girl was gone
whoever I was now, I would never be her again this is the way
the world ends not with a bang but a whimper. (559)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: While not the best paranormal romance I’ve read and wasn’t as great as the hype I’ve heard about it, I generally enjoyed the book. The history of the south, Gatlin, and the Caster world were admittedly my favorite parts of the book. The pacing was sluggishly slow most of the time, with tons of lengthy internal monologues, and a lot of the events could have been cut. But overall, it was an okay book – I liked it enough to want to continue to Beautiful Darkness (which I’m hoping has more of the Caster world)!

Rating: 4/5


Marie Simas said...

Good review. I don't read much paranormal anymore, and this one sounds like a real paranormal horror/thriller. Last time I read a horror novel at night, I regretted it!

Danna (Bananas For Books) said...

Great review! I'm about almost done with the book and I agree with the hugeness. It seemed info-dumpy, but it's still a good book so far. Have a great Saturday!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Good review - sometimes we do love books even though there doesn't seem to be any reason for it.

Midnyte Reader said...

I cannot wait to read this!

Jenny said...

I enjoyed this one quite a bit though I agree it could have easily been 100 pages shorter and maintained almost all of what it a really interesting read. Beautiful Darkness is a bit shorter, so I'm hoping some of the lengthy bits that plagued BC are bypassed in this book and I can't wait to continue the story:) Lovely review Kristina!

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@Marie: Thanks! I'm just easily spooked, which is why I thought it was so terrifying to read at night. I avoid scary books until daylight! :P

@Danna: Oh, you're reading this as well! Do let me know what you think when you're done with it!

@Sam: I have a gazillion books I love with no sound logic behind that love (most of those books include my guilty pleasure books x_o).

@Midnyte Reader: Get to it, girl! :P It's a good book. <3

@Jenny: I'm SO glad I'm not the only one who thinks that the book could have been shorter. I can't wait to read BD, either. I have it all nice and ready for me to read. Do let me know what you think of BD when you read it! =)

Emi said...

You and your awesome reviews. Pfft. I'm going to have to stop reading your blog (lol, never) if I ever want to get through all of the books on my TBR list.
I've heard a lot about this book, but have been sitting on the fence up until this point trying to decide if I wanted to read it. I like the idea of the romance being real, so I think I will pick it up after I put a dent in the pile of books waiting patiently on my shelf to be devoured. xD I can't wait to read what you think about the sequel! Hopefully it'll move faster than this book did. :3

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