Hi everyone! Continuing my series in Reading Teen/YA fiction I have finished Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Before going into this book I had only ever watched the film, which I love, and had never really heard much about book besides friends saying they had enjoyed it when they read it.
This review will be broken down into three parts. The first, my opinions on the characters. Secondly, I will be looking at the plot and finally, I will be summing up my general thoughts on the book. Beautiful Creatures is 563 pages and took me six days to complete reading.
I’ll start on a positive. I liked the use of a male protagonist. It’s not very common in Teen/Ya supernatural romance novels so I thought that it was unique to my reading experiences. As a female I often find that male first person narratives are interesting and always seem faster paced than most female narration. Ethan did not provide the speed I am used to. His inner voice is repetitive, his thoughts and actions are dreary. The pacing is completely off and as the narrator Ethan comes across more as a encyclopedia of the American Civil War than a mortal sixteen year old boy. Ethan, when acting like a “normal” boy is either trying to stop himself thinking about Lena, thinking about Lena or making judgemental comments about every other female that is not Lena. There are only so many times a reader needs to be told that Emily Asher and Savannah Snow are cheerleaders with no other personality trait.
Lena is a character without much going on. If not for her Claiming, Lena would have no purpose in the plot. She goes around in circles with Ethan about wanting to be with him, wanting him to stay away and trying to get him to understand how dangerous she is. Unlike Ethan, who had moments of likeability, I did not find anything in Lena’s character that was endearing.
The other characters blend together. Lena’s Caster family members had potential to be interesting characters but their powers were glimpsed over in the most part. Amma was definitely the most interesting character. However, with Ethan repeating every couple of pages how she bothers him it felt like the one character of colour was treated poorly in the book and it didn’t sit well with me that she was relegated to the role of ‘annoying guardian’ rather than the powerful woman she clearly is.
The overarching story was fine. Lena’s upcoming birthday was the sole focus of Ethan’s thoughts and actions. I did feel however that the book was separated, perhaps unconsciously, by the authors. The meeting, needing to find the Book of Moons and the end. Neither of those parts seemed to flow into one another it was like stepping into another part of the plot.
Lots of events just happened. I remember when I watched the film that I was left thinking “why did that just happen?” and it was same feeling reading it. There seemed to be little reasoning or explanation for most of the events in the book.
The moments between Macon and Amma were definitely the most interesting. Learning more about the world around Ethan was easier than listening to his thoughts. An addition in the book that was kept out of the film was Ethan’s three aunts. When reading those scenes all I kept thinking “why are these women necessary?” They provided information dumps for Ethan but other than that they came across as a kind of stereotype of elderly Southern Americans.
The plot seems to rest on the backdrop of the American Civil War. i definitely need to learn more about the subject myself, but I couldn’t help but feel the constant nods to the War were lazy. The authors seemed to try and tap into the Southern Gothic genre but it fell flat for me.
As a teenager I can guarantee I would have loved the reading experience of this book. There was nothing I loved more than a “forbidden romance.” That being said even as a teen I think I would have felt that this book was too long. With editing and removal of the repetitive thoughts of Ethan the book could easily be around 350 pages. I also think the book would have benefited greatly from having a third person narrator rather than relying on Ethan.
Overall, because I was interested in the outcome of Lena’s birthday, I gave the book three stars. There is nothing overly special about Beautiful Creatures but I do think it suits its target audience.