Friday, May 4, 2012

Young Adult Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

by Isabelle Doan


Random Information:

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 563 pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, this is #1
My Format: Library
Time to read: A Very Long Time.
Rating: Library/Borrow/e-Book/Paperback/Hardcover
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
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.
The cover and the title of Beautiful Creatures drew me in, and no doubt that they will seal the deal for you as well. So I plucked the book off the shelf and read the summary. Guess what? The summary DOES NOT TELL YOU ANYTHING. You can read what was on the front flap verbatim on Goodreads. In fact, I'll reiterate to you right now.

WOW! You don't know how much I don't freaking care, front flap.

But other than that, the authors are expecting you to read to find out. I was sort of offended, but I read anyway.
And yeah, I didn't really find out anything until like page 130 of the book. And even then, it was less than a page of conversation. This is literally what happened:
Lena (girl main character): I'm a caster.
Ethan(guy, main character, narrator): [This dude is basically breathing in and out quickly, but is relatively calm.] Oh, so you're... a witch?
Lena: Don't be silly. That's a stupid stereotype.
Ethan: That's okay my household is weird too.
Lena: [Sort of sad]
Ethan: [Wants girl to kiss him]

So, yeah. This book is about a family of Casters (God forbid if I say witch) and their problem: if Lena is going to become dark or some crap when her birthday comes around.
(Because EVERY PARANORMAL THING happens to you when you're a teenager.) Ethan (who is one of the first guy narrators I've seen in paranormal romance) is pulled into Lena's world, simply because he's the only dude who would talk to her and not make fun of her.


HOWEVER, I do have to give props to the authors for the writing. It's simplistic. Yeah. But most YA fantasy is, and the authors give us readers enough room to think and guess what's happening, and don't suffocate us with their thoughts.
That's another thing. A lot of people agree that for a boy narrator, Ethan is rather effeminate in his retelling. Okay, yeah, sure, he reads a lot of books and talks about Gone With the Wind a lot. I didn't think this was a problem because one, mostly girls read this anyway, so they won't notice, and two, the detailing is, again, simplistic enough that it's believable. But yeah, sometimes he is a little girly. I guess that's what makes Ethan more than a one dimensional character. I think that's sort of nice.

He could even pass... for a brony.

(Just kidding. He's not cool enough.)

And to be fair, the authors do make some lame attempts at guy-ness. Ethan asks his friends if the "new girl" (Lena) is hot. But that is not what propels Ethan to fall in love with Lena and vice versa. It's the fact that Ethan is the only person who's nice to Lena.
Oh yeah, and we never really learn what Ethan looks like. I'm imagining that he's also hot because apparently one of the two hottest girls in the school used to date him. I just imagined him as African American because everyone else in the story was white. WHITE.

And despite all of that... I found myself rooting for them. I kept asking myself WHY. WHY ON EARTH WOULD I LIKE A ROMANCE LIKE THIS? And I did not have an answer. I mean, it has all the elements of a bad romance. You know they're gonna end up together and it should be tedious. It's a Twilight-esque romance that made me want to stick my head in a panini press. But I read ravenously until they had their first kiss. I suppose it's because I'm so alone.

And the other thing that I wanted to address: the southern setting. I live in South Carolina, where the story takes place. People seemed to be taking the southern setting very offensively, saying it's stereotypical. I live in Greenville, South Carolina, a more populated area of the South. But parts of the southern life sound correct. 
For instance, Savannah [a ridiculously popular southern name] and Emily are two dyed blonde girls with over-bearing mammas who have a lot of influnce on the community. Sounds about right. Down here in SC, you have a lot of white girls tanning themselves and sticking their pelvises out in pictures so their fat PTA moms can be proud.
And Lena is sort of goth and is bullied. Also sounds about right. I had a goth girl in my school who wore tutus and drew butterflies on her face as part of her makeup. Now maybe Lena doesn't do that, but this girl in my school was bullied to no end for being goth. And mostly by the tan, duckface whores like Savannah and Emily.
But the cooking is bothersome. We don't have biscuits and gravy for breakfast everyday. At least, I don't think so. But there was a time that Ethan had egg rolls for dinner, and that's more correct than I've ever noticed. (We got diversity, man! And lots of guns.)
And the end. The end was... weird. I had to read it over and over again. And I guess I was sort of tired because this book was about 560 pages and by then I just wanted to pick up another book.
I guess what I'm saying is that if you have the patience and you like a book where you can think for yourself, read this. The plot was entertaining at least, so if you're one of those people who read and see the book in their heads like a movie, then go ahead. It killed time.

* I own none of these pictures, bro.

1 comment:

  1. I have this book on my bookshelf and I keep hesitating to read it because of all the mixed reviews I've read. You were right about the cover though, it's pretty. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but that doesn't mean that's not how I pick 'em! Anyway, thanks for sharing. This book does not sound like it would suit me very well.