Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – review (guest reviewed by Jaclyn Gata)

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Beautiful Creatures, book 1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little Brown Books, 2012, 592 pages, 9780316231657, Paperback, $7.99

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance

Beautiful Creatures begins the first of a four-book series (not including the side e-novellas and the Dangerous Creatures spin-off series) about Ethan Wate. Ethan lives in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. The book begins right before he meets Lena Duchannes, who is soon revealed to be a Caster (basically a witch, but Caster is the preferred title). Lena is severely isolated and judged in the small town, perhaps more than usual since most of the townspeople already consider her uncle to be dangerous. At one point, he is described as the Boo Radley of the town.

Ethan and Lena, predictably, fall in love, but they find that their bond is something stronger–they share dreams and can read each other’s minds. The book culminates with Lena and Ethan’s need to find a way to be together, because once Lena turns sixteen and goes through her “claiming”—which will turn her into a full Caster—she will not only be unable to be with Ethan, but she will kill him merely by touching him.

Overall, this is a great beginning to a tumultuous series. Beautiful Creatures is interesting, and the plot keeps you on your toes while you learn the nooks and crannies of this world. The prose is well written, and the dialogue includes colloquial language for the area as well as short snippets of wisdom throughout the book.

“Darkness, real darkness, was something more than just a lack of light.” (Page 277)

“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.” (Page 420)

However this book, which stretches out over 500 pages, can be a bit taxing at times. It is definitely not a quick and easy read. If you’re the type of person to get emotionally invested quickly and are looking for something to only take up an afternoon, this may not be the best series for you, as all of the books are at or over 500 pages. But if you’re willing to stick with it and learn about the characters over time, then by all means, give the series a try.

Most of the book’s length is spent on the two main characters, Lena and Ethan, and though there are secondary characters, both Lena and Ethan are almost always in the scene. There is also a lot of back and forth between both sides of the relationship, which is a tiny bit predictable and becomes frustrating over the length of the book. And, while the plot is good, there is almost an overabundance of it. This includes an entire storyline where Ethan and Lena find a magical locket that shows them flashbacks of their relatives, which then turns out to be mostly irrelevant, except for bringing Ethan and Lena together.

Other than that, the writing is well done. It isn’t noticeable that there are two authors writing this story, even though it’s entirely in Ethan’s POV. This is somewhat unique as many  author teams write alternating POVs. There is also a good balance of fantasy, paranormal, and romance without too much of one over the other.

At times, it was difficult to remember that both Ethan and Lena were only sixteen, though that can be either a good or a bad thing depending on your preference. Also, the band of secondary characters, including both Lena and Ethan’s surviving families and friends, are a wonderful addition and hilarious. I found myself wishing that they were in more scenes to provide more vibrant action.

This book was very good and did keep me entranced most of the time; however, I will reiterate that it was long. I would not recommend reading it on a Kindle, as reading it in book form was a bit taxing at times. If you’re looking for something different that you can invest a lot of time in, however, Beautiful Creatures is a great place to start. The best part of reading this series is that all of the books are already published (even though the first book was published only two years ago), there’s already has a set of e-novella’s published, and there’s a new spin-off series called Dangerous Creatures. There’s more than enough to keep you happily immersed in this world for quite a while.

More like this:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – review

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