Saturday, April 17, 2010
BR: Beautiful Creatures
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
I know, I know. About time I read this book! But blame the library, it took them forever to order it and get it in =p
**This is used as part of my "Take Another Chance Book Challenge" for #2- Blogroll Roulette; I used The Story Siren's blogroll (#15), and got Bloody Bookaholic**
Summary: Who doesn’t know the summary? Ethan Wate is stuck in the small town of Gatlin surrounded by the nosy community where secrets can’t be kept. Until he meets a new girl who he is—of course—drawn to, only to discover she is keeping some huge secrets of her own. With a looming deadline, Ethan and Lena (the new girl) must overcome more obstacles than imaginable, discover the realities of their history, and race against time to unveil the ultimate mystery.
My expectations: very high. I was on Amazon’s top YA books of the year, so many reviews when it was first released, the hype was incredible around December for this book. So many bloggers I admire had only good things to say about it, on so many of those “Best Books of 2009” lists… you get the picture.
Delivery: Didn’t measure up to the hype.
Put-down-ability: Pretty darn high, it was just dragging throughout most of the book.
My Thoughts: *warning, minor-ish spoilers*
I think my thoughts could probably be summed up in four words: it was too long. I’m okay with long books, but this one just kept dragging on with a mixture of unrelateable characters and cheesy scenes. I didn’t love Ethan’s voice, I am usually very fond of the (very few) YA novels that feature a male POV, and this one couldn’t really compare. He was just so unrealistic.
I don’t know about you, but how many boys do you know can just break apart from everything he’s known for a girl he just met? Ethan’s too nice about everything, too committed to the girl he met a couple weeks prior, and I can’t see a teenage boy with the pressures of the town on him being able to do what he did and extracting himself from his friends and old “life”. For the (oh-so-common) undefined reason he is attracted to the weird and pretty new girl, ditches all (but one) of his friends without a second thought, and runs off to be her knight in shining armor.
A thing I disliked was Ethan’s relationship with Amma. One second she’s his mom-like figure who he trusts explicitly, next she is just an obstacle between Lena (the girl) and him. Sure, I can understand why he would be so fascinated with Lena, but doesn’t mean I liked it. I’m not sure I liked the absentee father, but it worked relatively well. Characters I did enjoy were the secondary ones, like Link, Uncle Macon, Ridley, and Lena’s family. Also, I liked Lena more than Ethan, I think had the book been written from her point of view, the internal conflict could really have been fleshed out well.
I’m not sure if I connected with the setting very well, the gothic descriptions of a small town was vivid and refreshingly-weary. However, after a point it got repetitive, and I didn’t care much about the whole Civil War enactment thing at the end, and it felt like it was just “there” with not much connection to what was happening in the story.
As I mentioned before, the book was long. I was thinking about my book reviews, I thought I might want to add a category like “How long it took to get hooked” etc, and if I applied it to Beautiful Creatures, the answer would be along the lines of 300 or so pages. That’s a helluva long time. It might be because the plot wasn’t particularly eventful (apart from the stereotypical cheerleader who hates the new girl, basketball which was basically abruptly cut out, Lena, and bad things that happen which make Ethan lurv Lena more) in the first two thirds of the book.
As the mystery builds to the climax, I kind of got sick of Ethan and his “We can fix this, everything will be okay”. I’m not sure what I wanted him to do, but reassuring Lena over and over again wasn’t it.
The premise of the novel itself, with the Casters and the Duchanne secrets were actually pretty well presented. I enjoyed the different aspect of it (yay, no vamps or werewolves!) and was especially intrigued with Uncle Macon (and Boo Radley!) Which reminds me, I really enjoyed the references to To Kill a Mockingbird. The plot was somewhat redeeming, yet paced pretty slowly that I felt it was a serious struggle to just keep reading and to finish it. The climax was well written and exciting though, and answered some questions but raise some more.
The “we love each other but can’t be together” deal between Ethan and Lena was clichéd, and I’m glad it didn’t carry on through the entirety of the novel
Lastly, I felt the writing was just a bit out of place for a teenage boys’ point of view. He described Lena pretty often, and what clothes she was wearing, and what shoes which doesn’t seem boy-ish to me. Boyish to me is “wow, she looked gorgeous”, not “wow, the way her hair cascaded down her back, the way her clothes showed off her curves, and her green eyes shone like the moon was awe-inspiring.” I completely made up the cringe-worthy second part, but it is a tiny bit like how Ethan described Lena.
8/10 – which surprises me too. At the end, when I thought back about it, I thought there were enough redeeming parts in the plot and the uniqueness to overrule the questionable prose. The “ditch friends for girl syndrome” did aggravate me a bit, and the pacing didn’t really work for me, but when all was said and done, I thought about it and I still enjoyed it. Sometimes this stuff happens :o There were a lot of other parts I wanted to mention in the review, but couldn't really fit it in.
Am I gonna read the sequel? Yeah, probably. Will I buy it? Most likely not. (this book came from the library, btw)
I would recommend this to people who want to read a paranormal novel with a male protagonist and a quaint setting.
If you check out my Rating System (which is subtract 5 from the score and make it out of 5, this book would get 3/5 “stars”).
PS- do you like the section below the summary? (Expectations, Delivery, etc?) Should I include it for future reviews?