Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Friday, February 8, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Beautiful Creatures 
Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins
Published: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Length: 17 hours and 33 minutes, Unabridged
Source: Purchased
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“The right thing and the easy thing are never the same."
― Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures

Synopsis
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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Once again, I have tried reading, or listening, to Beautiful Creatures. And, once again, I am baffled as to why there is so much hype surrounding this book. I know its popularity has increased with the upcoming release of the movie, but I don't think it's entirely deserved. At first, listening to the audiobook was a more enjoyable experience than reading it. I could multitask while listening, and I found the music and sound effects spooky and perfect for setting the right atmosphere for the book. But after a while, the story dragged and seemed repetitive. How many times do I have to hear about Ethan's eccentric great aunts? Or how the cheerleading squad is dressed? Or how the town is obsessed with the Civil War?

Beautiful Creatures had potential with its Casters, a unique spin on supernatural beings that are usually known as witches. While these Casters still had powers and participated in casting spells, the curse that plagued Lena's family was a nice twist. There were a couple of other nice touches, like Lena's ability to write poetry on her walls with her mind and the deep appreciation given to books. Other than that, it was a struggle to finish this book.

First off, Beautiful Creatures was just way too long. I have nothing against long books, but I have certain expectations. No matter the length of the book, it should still be well-written. Beautiful Creatures could have easily been 200 pages instead of nearly 600 because very little happens throughout the book. In fact, it drags. Some scenes could have neatly been cut in half or even done away with all together. They added nothing to the plot. For example, Lena and Ethan argue back and forth about the same things again and again. Lena thinks Ethan and her are too different to be together. Ethan protests. Lena is scared. Ethan comforts her. I felt like Lena was the female Edward.
Lena: No, we can't be together.
Ethan: I'm not going away.
Lena: You don't understand.
And Lena was constantly telling Ethan how much he didn't understand, but she never even tried to explain. That's trust right there (which will develop into a solid, lifelong relationship). And then Lena would mope and mope. There was hardly a lighthearted, fun moment shared between these two. Then, Macon Ravenwood and Amma were stepping in again and again, keeping them apart and telling them this is for your own good without ever elaborating. It was so infuriating, and it took forever for the simplest and most predictable explanation to be pieced together. Thank you, parental (or well housekeeper and uncle) guidance.

Secondly, (no, I'm not done my tirade yet) Ethan is obviously confused. I think Ethan is a girl locked inside a male body. I don't want to impose any gender stereotypes on anyone, but Ethan did not read, or sound, like a teenage guy. Things that should have been on his mind were suspiciously absent. I think you know what I mean. What teenage guy gives a detailed description of what everyone is wearing? Half the time, I forget what I'm wearing until I look down. Then, he would frequently mention how Lena smelled of rosemary and lemons. That's nice. Not to mention, I could zone out on what he was saying and come back to Planet Earth a few minutes later to realize I missed nothing. I am still lost as to why Garcia and Stohl even chose him as the narrator. He is so boring and ordinary and he goes on and on. Not to mention, Lena's POV would have been so much more interesting, and the authors obviously have no problem writing from a female's POV, as shown from Ethan's. Don't get me wrong. I think a female can write from a male POV successfully and vice versa. But, in this case, it did not work at all.

Lastly, the southern setting in Beautiful Creatures was refreshing but entirely cliched. Am I knowledgeable about life in the south? Not really. But this just seemed overdone with the emphasis on the Civil War and an old grudge against the north. People were sitting around drinking sweet tea and having Battle of Honey Hill reenactments and wearing southern belle dresses. I don't think so. There was just too much going on with the Civil War and the Casters and the poor attempt at a southern town vibe. It was a mess.

As for the narrator, Kevin T. Collins, he was alright. I found his accents to be a bit annoying, as the southern accents were at times almost overdone (especially Amma's). And I did not like his voice for Lena at all. The female narrator for Lena was much better. I feel like a murderer. Like I just killed a book. Maybe staked it or burnt it to a crisp. I'm sorry folks, but these were my honest feelings about Beautiful Creatures. I don't understand why it was chosen for a movie adaptation when there are so many fantastic books out there instead. What's unfortunate is that I own the sequel, and I will be seeing the movie because my mom wants to. I'm hoping it will be an improvement on the book, which won't be difficult to achieve.




6 comments:

  1. This was an awesome honest review.
    Thank you!
    I've contemplated this one but it just didn't feel right for me. And honestly, the movie trailer feels very cliche to me.
    Thank you so much for helping me decide it's ok not to be interested in this one.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. It was alright. I'll add that to the review.

      Delete
  3. Well, I think you're doing a much better job of eliminating bad books from my potential TBR pile than I am doing for you. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I help you out, though. And your review is well-reasoned. This isn't murder. Perhaps just a public display at the stockade. haha and I love your analysis of Ethan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I haven't read this one, haven't really wanted to, and you make sound reasons not to now. It's really hard to read a book that so extremely popular and not like it. But I thought you gave solid and thought-out reasons. Hopefully the movie will be enjoyable for you! :)

    ReplyDelete

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