Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is a teenage Gothic romance set in a small southern town. Ethan Wate is a high school student being raise by his housekeeper after his mother’s death and his father’s subsequent depression. When Lena Duchannes moves to town, she is immediately shunned by the “in-crowd” due to her weird clothes and strange personality. The more Ethan learns of Lena, the more he is drawn to her - despite the massive pressure he receives from his friends to shun her. Ethan discovers that Lena’s family are Casters, beings capable of performing magic through spells. On Lena’s upcoming sixteenth birthday, she will learn whether her magic will be claimed by the light or the dark. Until then, she lives in fear that she will be forced against her will to turn to the dark.

One thing that I liked about this book is that it was told from the point of view of the male lead. So many of teen romances are written from the view point of the girl that this book seems fresh right from the first page. Ethan was a great character. He was smart, thoughtful, very relatable. I think boys like Ethan are out there in every high school. He’s popular. He fits in. Yet, there is a deep secret self within Ethan that keeps him separate from the other kids in school. In some ways, he seems all alone in the middle of a crowd.

It is this secret part of Ethan with relates to Lena from the moment he sees her. She doesn’t fit in. She isn’t popular. And she wears her difference like a badge of honor. Ethan sees her courage and longs for it within himself. If anything, Lena’s presence gives him permission to be himself for the first time.

Lena’s character is moderately interesting, though slightly predictable. While Ethan’s character feels fresh, Lena’s is borderline cliché. However, what her character lacks in originality, she makes up for by supplying the conflict and drama to fuel the plot. I don’t want to give too much more about the plot away, so I will be brief on that point. Let’s just say that there was enough conflict and drama to keep this 600 page book interesting.

History also plays a strong role in this novel. Like a lot of southern towns, the Civil War still has a strong presence in the place identity. With the weaving in of past events into the present, the authors are able to give that feeling of history being a live, active thing.

I enjoyed this book. I found it entertaining, although slightly predictable. I don’t know if there are any plans for a sequel, but the world of the Casters could provide some good material for the story to continue.

Overall, I give Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl…

Compelling Characters – 3 ½ bookmarks

Plot – 2 bookmarks

Historic Detail – 3 bookmarks

Paranormal Elements – 3 bookmarks

Age Appropriateness - 4 1/2 bookmarks

Dream Cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Vanessa Marano (Lena), a young James McAvoy (Ethan), Billy Zane (Uncle Macon Ravenwood)


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