Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
With the movie just out and TV spots flashing across the screen every five commercials, I couldn’t resist getting the book. Meg posted a Beautiful Creatures review a couple months back, so, since I agree with her on almost all the points, I’m gonna do my best to add some new couple of cents in this post.
So, Ethan is a small-town guy, desperately bored with his small town life in backwater Georgia. Then, one day, in an inversion of the usual paranormal romance trope, a new girl comes to town. Lena’s different – maybe even dangerous – with dark rumors swirling around her. And Ethan can’t help but be drawn to her.
She tells him that they can’t be together because they’re from two different worlds, and it’s not until he’s way in over his head that he discovers that she means that in the most literal sense of the word.
The Good: Happy days, when Ethan – a regular person in a regular ol’ town – is smacked in the face with the paranormal side of this world, he’s adaptable, and it spares us endless pages of internal turmoil.
More Good: Speaking of turmoil, Meg hit the nail on the head; the subplot involving Ethan’s mother and her death really soothes the angst down. Or rather, it moves Ethan’s emotions away from the realm of teen angst and into the world of real, sympathetic struggle. You like him, you sympathize with him, and you forgive him for being such a backseat, passive narrator most the time.
Not So Good: And then you get Ethan’s love interest. Lena, Lena, My-Life-Is-Terrible-and-I’m-a-Writer-Lena. Every time Lena opens her mouth, my irritation levels spike into the red. I would have gone crazy if I had been stuck in her head for an entire book. Happily, the reader dodged that bullet and we get Ethan.
So why the two canaries rating? Unlike Meg, I was pretty chill about the way the audiobook worked. The sound affects didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would, and even managed to add some atmospheric tension.
The problem was I just couldn’t get emotionally invested in the story. Somewhere in the middle, the story began blurring together, the events seemed to repeat themselves (everyone’s mean to Lena, Ethan is comforting, things explode) and I couldn’t wait for the story to be over so I could move on to my next read. That’s never a good sign.
I do recommend the book to lovers of the genre who are looking for something to shake up the usual brand of teen angst. But I think this is a sign that YA paranormal romance, even when well done, isn’t my thing. So if you’re a YA reader, go with Meg’s review.
But let’s hop back to the real reason I read Beautiful Creatures. The movie! From what I can see so far, the movie is more of an inspired adaptation – and thank you, Powers That Be for that. The complicated, multi-character small-town tapestry is a fine set-up for the first book of a series, but it would have made for a claustrophobic cluster-mess of a movie. It looks like Ethan is getting more of a voice, too, being portrayed as a stronger, more outspoken character with a solid sense of humor.
Here he is, putting into words exactly how I felt about Lena as a character and love interest:
Promising movie looks promising!
Will you be seeing Beautiful Creatures?
- Read Meg’s review of Beautiful Creatures – four out of five canaries!
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