Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published: 1 December 2009
Format: Hardback, Library book
Memorable Quote: “The right thing and the easy thing are never the same.”
Rating: 2 stars
Synopsis: Ethan Wate is tired of living in Gatlin, where nothing ever changes and people only seem to focus on The Civil War. Then, Lena Duchannes enrolls in Ethan’s school, and she is unlike anyone he – or anyone else in Gatlin has ever met. She’s also the girl that Ethan has quite literally been dreaming about for months before she even arrived, and he finds himself drawn to her immediately. Lena, on the other hand, is fighting a curse that has plagued her family for generations, but whether she likes it or not, she has a connection with Ethan, and they are going to have to uncover more about her curse and powers together.
563 pages….of that.
Listen, I know this book was written for teenagers, not 20-something adults who are frantically trying to catch up on their Goodreads TBR.
I also don’t know where to start. Beautiful Creatures was just painfully boring for me. I can handle books that move slowly, in fact, I usually prefer slower pacing – especially when there’s a great deal of historical references. However, this book was beyond slow, and there were only a handful of flashbacks (20 pages worth???), which were about as exciting as the book got. So, out of a nearly 600-page novel, only 20 pages were really interesting to me, because the other 400-something pages were mostly full repetitive, uninteresting information, generally conflicting bits of information, or whining.
Here’s the thing, we’ve seen it all in YA paranormal, but Casters (witches) was something pretty new and different, so it had a great deal of potential to take YA paranormal into a new, possibly more permanent direction (it’s 2019 and I hardly see any paranormal anymore). But the result of Beautiful Creatures was more WE cAn’T HAvE SEX oR tHE MoRtAL wIlL DIEEEEEEEEEEE, more unnecessary drama that could have been avoided with a conversation, and insta-love.
But, hey, there weren’t any love triangles – so there’s that!
Anyway, one thing Beautiful Creatures does differently than other YA paranormal books is utilizing male point of view (POV). The story is told through Ethan’s perspective, and while this is pretty unique for the genre, it is not necessarily done well. Don’t get me wrong, Ethan seems like a nice guy, but he’s not much else. He doesn’t care for Gatlin or the people in it, and he quite obviously sees himself above everyone and everything – except Lena. I think this book would have better off using a third-person POV, because Ethan’s POV did not come across as a teenage boy.
The other characters in the book felt like cut-outs meant to enhance Lena and Ethan. With a little more development, I think Lena would have been a really interesting character, but she seemed little more than “paranormal love interest”. As for everyone else, I’ll say that I did not grow up in a small town or The South. I’m from a small city in Ohio, so I don’t know if The South was well-represented. From some travels, I do know that many Southern states feel strongly about The Civil War, but aside from that, I know very little (Southern food is amazing though).
Finally, the book was just too long. I know I whined about it earlier, but I think a solid 200 pages could have been cut out, because there was so much repetition going on. I also probably could have skipped 200 pages and not have been at all confused. Everything seemed to be a cycle.
Ethan and Lena together.
Ethan and Lena not together.
Everyone in Gatlin hating Lena and trying to get rid of her.
Everyone in Gatlin hating Lena and trying to get rid of her – part 2.
Lena freaking out over going Dark.
Lena not freaking out.
Back to freaking out.
Yeah, you get the point. It just felt like not enough happened to justify the length of this book. There really wasn’t a cohesive plot, either. Just random bouts of info-dumping and exaggerated high school drama. Also, plot twists and solutions to issues were predictable and too-convenient at best. No spoilers, but there is a solution to an issue towards the end of the book that is conveniently solved in a matter of seconds.
It took me 3.5 months to read this book. I could only read a chapter or two at a time before I fell asleep or found myself with a headache. I honestly kept reading because I thought something was going to happen. A lot of people said the book was full of suspense, but to me, it wasn’t. It was pretty dull.
Truth be told, I have no intentions of continuing the series. It’s just not for me. I guess I missed the hype. I do have the movie checked out, so I might watch it.
But if you want to give Beautiful Creatures a try, go for it! Make your own decision about the book.
Overall, I do applaud the authors for trying something new in the YA paranormal genre. I’m glad this book did well with so many people.