Review: Beautiful Creatures

May 1, 2013 Review 22 ★★½

Review: Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Little Brown
Source: Purchased
Pages: 563
Release Date: December 1st 2009
Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
two-half-starstwo-half-starstwo-half-stars
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.
alise

Hello, all. Welcome to my dissertation on the young adult novel titled Beautiful Creatures. (Not really, but it felt like I was writing one because of how long this is) I don’t think I’ve ever had so many mixed feelings about a book before. What better rating to give a book that you are confused about than the in-between, non-committal three stars?

Since everyone pretty much knows what BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is all about by now, I’ll save you the long explanation and back-story and get straight to my opinion. I made my thoughts into three basic lists, so you don’t have to read the whole thing. I’m just so thoughtful like that. You’re welcome.

Pros:
Male Lead
Magic
Family
Concept of Witchcraft
Macon Ravenwood and Boo Radley
Ridley

Cons:
Male Lead (Yes, I know what I did there)
Romance
Ethan’s dad
Gatlin the town cult
Death of favorite characters
Two authors, different goals

Simple ways this could have been better:
One author (whoever was less focused on the romance aspect)
Getting rid of Ethan
Getting rid of the romance altogether
Not killing off my favorite character   

The Male Lead A.K.A Ethan Wate

I can really appreciate it when an author, in this case-two female authors-go out of the norm and decide to write a YA novel through the male’s point of view. This can change the story so drastically, and in many cases, Ethan’s POV was a strong Pro in BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. I was imagining how the story might have changed if it was in Lena’s POV instead, and realized it would not have been as enjoyable.

The negative side of this is that I didn’t care for Ethan much at all. He has some crap-butt friends in the beginning, which only makes me wonder what kind of a person he really is. Sure, as soon as he meets Lena he “changes,” but is that really realistic? I don’t really know of a guy like that who would dump all of his friends, turn against them, and become a social pariah for a girl he met two days ago.

Also, Ethan takes everything in stride, rarely questioning anything or thinking something was a little off. Communicating through thought? No problem. Lena’s house changing every time he does in? Psh. Becoming a dragon? Well that doesn’t happen, but if it did, I guarantee Ethan wouldn’t even blink an eye.  

Magic and the whole concept of Casters 

imageFantastic. Loved these parts. You’re surprised, right? I really enjoyed learning about Caster history and Lena’s family. There are so many different kinds of magic and creatures and I found them all so amazing and really wish a bigger part of the story had focused more on the magic aspects rather than the romance. Almost everyone in Lena’s family has a different power, and I liked how the authors took time to really come up with each individual’s abilities and names.

Family 

I love reading about relationships. Something that actually ties with romance in my book is familial relationships. So while I disliked the romance in BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, I loved experiencing the connections between Ethan and Amma, and Lena and her family. Especially Lena and Macon, they were my favorite duo.  These relationships seemed deeper and more genuine than Ethan and Lena’s teenage insta-love. I hated their interactions with each other.

A negative to the family aspect is Ethan’s dad, who I really wish wasn’t in the story at all. He doesn’t add anything, and if the authors were trying to keep at least one parent in Ethan’s life they should have just killed off his dad and left him with Amma. I would much rather prefer Ethan being an orphan than someone with a father attached solely by word instead of actuality.

Gatlin the Cult

Seriously? Seriously? You are telling me that the entire town conspires against a fifteen year old girl simply because she isn’t from around here? You are telling me everyone blames her for all the strange things that happen around the town? A fifteen year old girl no one really knows that everyone just has insta-hate for? A town meeting is called where Lena is displayed in front of the entire town and the whole thing is symbolic of the Salem Witch Trials? Just to expel her from school? In what case is this even remotely plausible or realistic? These people are crazy, and the authors are even more so if they thought this could happen and readers would think it was conceivable. Sheer ridiculousness.

Two authors, different goals

I can not think of a better way to word this than Karen did on Goodreads:

one lady said “i want to write a paranormal romance!” the other lady said “i want to write a civil war-era southern love story. well, let’s smooosh them together! it is a great idea!!”

Pick one and focus on it, strengthen just that one side of the plot rather than have two weak ones. Honestly, if you were to taken Ethan or the romance out of this book, I really think this could have been around four stars instead of the 2.5 I am rating it.

I will be reading the sequel, because I own it.

Finally, if you disagree with me, that’s cool. I respect your opinion, so let me have mine.

22 Responses to “Review: Beautiful Creatures”

  1. TheBookGazer.Blogspot.com

    I’m glad you liked the book! It was really good in some parts, but messy in the others. I feel that Karen sums everything up for me. Two different authors, and two different goals.
    The casters were my favorite part though- Especially the background backstory with- what was her name? Gertude? I can’t remember. But she was at the heart if the story!

  2. Asti

    I think your review is pretty spot on. I was okay with the first book, but didn’t love it. What made it work was the family relationships (Gotta love Macon and Amma) and the interesting bits of the Caster history. The romance? Meh. The male MC? Bleh. Good luck with the next one! I barely remember it, but maybe it was alright?

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      Thanks! I also seriously loved Macon, especially him with Lena. Glad you agree, although if there is nothing memorable about the 2nd book, that is better than remembering it for being bad!

  3. rivie bleu

    “Not killing off my favorite character” I know!!! I was like NOOO!!!
    “but is that really realistic?” But did we really see him fit in completely? I mean we knew he was going, but there was nothing else, besides he wanted to leave, no one ever did, so that must mean he did not agree with them all the time or at all. So, what if she finally was his way out?
    “I guarantee Ethan wouldn’t even blink an eye.” Lol. He was a little weird, but what I didn’t get is why, everything going on he accepted but the house, at first he couldn’t believe it. You’re seeing that and you don’t believe it, but everything else that you’re not sure, you do?! I could have slapped him, right there.
    The different characters and gifts were pretty cool. About Ethan’s dad, I feel like that could be relatable, I mean it does happen and he was trying to figure out how to deal with that. I think some people could connect with that. The whole witch trials was too much. I mean, I understand it could happen with a small group, but the whole town and just with the influence from one person was just not right. I was wondering a bit what exactly was going on with the plot, where exactly is this taking us? I hadn’t thought of it, two authors with different goals, so they forgot to add it to this book

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      About the killing off, I wish he hadn’t of died, but I guess I liked how it happened.

      I don’t know, he did go out with that one girl but yeah, I suppose he may have always been different from his friends.

      HA, I also thought that was weird. Overall, he was weird, indeed.

      Yeah, it was really overkill, that would never happen in real life.

    • rivie bleu

      About the title, yeah I read that and was like, is that how the title is supposed to work here? But then they say awful creatures or something like that. The first one was Macon and then Sarafine or whatever her name is. But it still didn’t give me enough to really understand what they meant by it. At first I was like, who are the beautiful creatures, them or us? lol

  4. Chelsea

    Great Review! I love the GIFS! :-) I honestly cannot link up a review this month because I can’t write one since I could not finish this book. I could not get into it. The book was too slow for me and like you said, I could not relate with Ethan at all. From the beginning, I was bored and and uninterested.

  5. Madiha S

    I sooo agree with you. I’ve got similar points in my review. And Macon!!! He was the one thing I liked. The one single character I loved! (Besides Amma and Ridley ofcourse.) And it always so happens that the character I like most end up dying. It’s like a curse I tell you. *sigh* .

    Oh yes, Ethan really would not blink an eye. I didn’t mention that but so true. He took communicating via thought way too lightly. I would jumped out of my skin and run in the other direction if it ever happened with me.

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      Macon was the best thing about the novel for me as well. I KNOW. I’m actually holding out some insane hope that maybe there will be some way to bring him back to life?

      I would have put myself in an mental institution LOL

  6. Kezia D

    I was interested in the magic thingy too! Glad that at least you still found something to like despite the negatives ;) I think I won’t read this for the time being cause I’m still hesitating… Besides, I’m a bit skeptical due to its thickness. What if I find it boring?

    Off topic: LOVE your GIFs

  7. Kelley

    Hahaha, I enjoyed this. Surprisingly, this is the first time it’s occurred to me that the two authors had different goals. The interesting thing is that it’s not like they set out to write a novel that would be published. They just decided to write a story that their daughters/students wanted to read. The requirements were: male POV, female paranormal love interest (basically make Bella male and Edward female). When I learned this, and that they just wrote it and passed around the pages to their teenagers, I was amused and impressed. It was just supposed to be some thing for their kids, but it ended up being sent to an agent by one of their writer friends, and got published.

    Anyway, I’m not defending it or anything. I really just find the whole thing kind of fascinating. But I think you (and Karen from Goodreads) are right on with that assessment. I really would have preferred a lot more of the paranormal parts and less of the romance part. I’m curious to see how you take the rest of the books (and I’m pretty sure the final one will not impress you, lol).

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      That is very interesting, I did not know that. The similarities to Twilight are really strong but I didn’t want to be another one of those screaming, “Twilight rip-off! Twilight rip-off!” So to hear that there was reasoning behind it is…enlightening. However, there are edits and such and I feel like some of the problems could have been fixed.

      HA, great. Something to look forward to! :p

    • rivie bleu

      What? That is so cool! That they made it for their kids and friends and it ended up getting published and a movie!! About the twilight, I did not see that at all, is it because I only read Breaking Dawn? That’s interesting, ooh! I’m going to tell my little cousin about it. She wanted to see the movie and I told her I wanted to read the book first, I am tempted to see how it came out, so now I’ll ask her what she thinks about it before telling her about the twilight thing

  8. Adriana Garcia

    First of all AWESOME gifs.

    Now that you mention it the authors did stuff a lot in there. I never really noticed until the movie. The civil war seemed unnecessarily put int there. I actually never really like any family members except Amma. I was annoyed by Lena throughout the book. I did really like Ethan but he did take everything in stride which was weird lol. It was like they were communicating through thought (; I would say still that Ethan and the caster’s abilities were the best part.

    Great review! :D

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      Thanks! Yeah, I think it could have been used perhaps in a different, more useful way. I guess we are opposite, because I liked Lena more than Ethan. I do agree that Lena was annoying though.

  9. lilybloombooks

    Honestly.. I don’t remember much about this book. Macon, the casters and… not liking Ethan! (Although I rated it 4 stars.. hmmm)

    You’re comments about the town remind me of when we first moved to GA. Because people stared. A LOT. SO, some of that maaaaay be true. Just a little.

    Great review! (LOVE the Hades Gif)

  10. Delaney

    First off OMG HAHAHAHA LOL THAT OREO GIF!!!! XDDDD I LOVE IT! Alright, moving on to your review. FINALLY a reasonable review! All the reviews I’ve (so far) read are all just RAVING reviews. Which I just was saying “Uhmm” and nodding like I totally understood. I think the sound of the witches sounds pretty flipping awesome! But that romance and also the witch part also just seems to mess it all up. No Garcia and Stohl, let’s not just smooth those two of your ideas together! Wait, then how did they write the chapters? Each individually or alternating?

    • Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

      It’s one of my favorite gifs! :) I was wondering how they both wrote as well, there is no clear indication of who wrote which chapter. But you can tell they had different goals for the book in the way that the plot seems to fight against itself for the main purpose.

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