Tag Archives: Beautiful Creatures

genericwhitegirl’s CBR book #31: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

If you’re into Twilight or other angsty teenage supernatural type books, then you’ll probably dig Beautiful Creatures. Now that I’ve mentioned Twilight, some of you die-hard fans (I am not one of them) might want to know which is better…honestly, I’m not sure. I think Twilight fans would still prefer the Twilight books to Beautiful Creatures, but with three books already in the series, Beautiful Creatures may be worth a deeper look.

Okay, now I’m talking to normal people. This book is along the lines of the Twilight series so…possibly an entertaining, brainless read with a cup of annoying and over dramatic mixed in.

Basically, Beautiful Creatures takes place in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, where the civil war is still the biggest news of the day. Ethan Wate, a sophomore in high school, has his friends and basketball team. But then Lena Duchannes comes to town. The niece of the town’s mysterious recluse, Lena’s welcome in Gatlin is anything but. Ethan, however, is strangely drawn to Lena. Haunted by a recurring dream, Lena seems to be the clue to Ethan understanding it. As their friendship develops, Ethan learns more and more about Lena’s family and all of its supernatural secrets.

I think this story focuses more on the relationship between Ethan and Lena (read: a love story) as opposed to really exploring and understanding Lena’s supernatural world. In that sense, I found the book lacking. I love being immersed in new worlds but the perspective is Ethan’s so you feel just as in the dark as he does about all the interesting things Lena is privy to. Of course, things are slowly revealed throughout the book, but I still had a lot of questions and wanted to know more. I suppose that’s the point of a series though, isn’t it? Perhaps I’ll read the second book to discover more. But I’m not sure the first book entranced me enough to go to the trouble.

Read The Blist for more reviews by genericwhitegirl.

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Even Stevens’s CBR-III review #30: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness is the second in a trilogy (the last book is due out in October) and I’m having a hard time deciding how I felt about this book. In some ways, I felt like it avoided the middle book trap (that is, being mostly filler) and in other ways I thought it fell right into it. Just as a warning, there are some spoilers about the first book in this review (the first paragraph is the setup, after that it’s spoiler-free).

After Lena’s sixteenth birthday, in which she avoided being claimed until her seventeeth birthday, Lena and Ethan are dealing with an entirely new set of problems. Lena is still reeling from the death of her Uncle Macon, and she feels responsible for his death as she made a deal with the Book of Moons to save Ethan, triggering a trade-off type of situation. Lena pulls further and further away from Ethan and shows signs that she might be choosing Dark instead of Light. One day, Lena disappears with her Dark Caster cousin, Ridley, and a mysterious Caster-type named John Breed. Ethan follows her in an attempt to bring her back and convince her to go Light, and discovers a lot more about the Caster world than he ever knew existed.

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time expressing myself, I find it helpful to make a pro-con list. So here are my pros and cons as they relate to this book.

Pros: Ethan gained a stronger voice and actually did something with himself. Some of my favorite supporting characters are back in full force, namely Link and Ridley. There is also a new character, Liv, whom I also quite enjoyed. The book is fast-paced and there is much action to be had.

Cons: One word: Lena. Oh my God, Lena. I found her to be trying in the first book, but I have to say in this one she was downright grating. I get that girl went through some stuff, but 1) it’s not Ethan’s fault so stop taking it out on him, especially when you sacrificed so much to save him and 2) stop wallowing and being a brat. Liv’s character is set up as a romantic tension, not quite a love triangle, and she was twice as enjoyable as Lena; nice, funny, and easy-going.She was more engaging in a few pages than Lena was in the whole book and I found myself wishing Ethan would go “ya know, this whole Emo girl thing? Not really for me. See ya later, Lena”. If you’ve ever read any teen love triangle story ever, I’m sure you know the likelihood of that happening.

Having typed this all out, I think I’ve just realized where my ambivalence about this book stems from. I ended up liking Ethan more and Lena less, leaving me wondering why the hell he’s so committed to her. On a much smaller scale of annoyance, I thought they drew out the big magical reveal a little too long as well. Once they figured out what the scheme was, and how, things seems to move so fast, I think some threads were left in the dangling with little or no explanation. There were a few convenient plot devices I could have lived without as well.

This story was saved for me by the strengths established in the first book: great characters (you know, minus Lena) and a great setting. The tunnels of Caster world are more thoroughly explored and some new supernatural beings are introduced, and both of these things flowed really well with the story. I think it also helped that Lena is absent for a large portion of the book. This was a decent follow up to the first installment and fulfilled the purpose of the middle book, which is to set up the final act. I will definitely be tuning in to find out what happens to the good folks of Gatlin, South Carolina.

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Even Stevens’s CBR-III review #23: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan is a high school senior, counting the days he can escape the small town life (and mentality) of Gatlin, South Carolina. Ethan is still struggling with the death of his mother and how it has made his father a recluse, locked away in his study. He’s bored and lonely and believes that nothing ever changes in his town, until the start of his senior brings a new student to town, Lena Duchennes, the niece of the notorious town shut-in (and rumored mental case), Macon Ravenwood. Ethan immediately feels a connection to her and as the two get to know each other, each of their lives is changed and they face several dangers to their relationship, of both the regular and supernatural variety. This is a pretty bare-bones description of the events, but I feel that any more reveals too much about the unfolding story. Be warned that if you check out the Amazon.com or similar book descriptions, there are some mild spoilers in there.

This setup is a familiar one, especially with the influx of supernatural teen romances these days, and this had the potential to be a melodramatic mess, but several different things actually elevate this book above the normal YA fare. First, the setting. The authors are very adept at capturing the attitudes and often small-mindedness that often pervade the truly smalls towns. There are some very entertaining characters that populate the town, and some less entertaining ones that are just as true to life. The atmosphere is another plus for them. This really has a southern Gothic feel to it, and while I’ve never lived in the south, I feel as though they succeeded in creating a dark, moody atmosphere that I’ve only ever read about or seen applied to the south.

Their characterization is another strength. Ethan and Lena themselves are serviceable. Ethan is a nice guy, if a little on the vanilla side, and Lena is emotional, strong, and sometimes moody, so essentially your typical 15-year-old girl. I enjoyed them (Lena took awhile for me to warm up to), but it’s the supporting characters in this book that really shine. Ethan’s housekeeper (and essentially his stand-in mother), Amma, is a no-nonsense woman who cooks like it’s going out of style and constantly litters the house with charms and protection, as she is a big believer in the supernatural. His best friend, Link, is a happy go lucky kind of guy, who isn’t fazed by much and sticks with Ethan through everything. Macon Ravenwood, Lena’s uncle, may well be my favorite. There are several To Kill a Mockingbird references littered throughout the text leading up to his introduction, so that you are led to believe he is a Boo Radley type, a socially stunted person who is afraid of social interaction. He is anything but. I don’t want to give away too much about him, but he really is delightful. There are a number of other people, mainly Lena’s family, who are not necessarily crucial to the story, but are given their own personalities and are just as interesting (sometimes more) as the main characters.

This is the first in a trilogy, but lucky for us, the second one was released in 2010 and the third installment will be out this October. This book was a bit longer in length than many first entries of a trilogy (564 pages), but it never feels dragged out. There are a good number of story lines, and each plays out naturally and the resolutions feel natural and unforced. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of YA fiction with a supernatural theme, and I will definitely be picking up the subsequent volumes.

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