RandomAnthony's Reviews > Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
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Aug 31, 2010

liked it

I want to join a teen book group. I read the “teen book group” signs at the library and consider excuses for insinuating myself into these gatherings of literary conversation in the institution’s community room. Would “I’d like to conduct some research” work? Or would the librarians ask me to develop a permission slip for each participant? I’d like to avoid hard evidence of my deception. Too dangerous. I suppose I could play the group straight and admit I'm curious about their perspectives of books like Beautiful Creatures (last month’s local teen book group selection), but I’m afraid A) my presence would inhibit the usual talk, and B) I’d speak and the kids would scoot away from me like I was that one age-inappropriate guy I remember from every teenage concert. Some of you goodreaders also delve into these young-adult novels, and I can use my twelve year old as a theoretical beard if caught carrying books like this one, so I don’t feel weird reading the book, but I would love to hear what the novel’s target audience thinks of Beautiful Creatures, and I can't figure out how to crowbar my way into the group.

I want to explore if the teenagers, especially the teenage girls (I imagine more girls than boys attend these library book groups, but I could be wrong), care or even notice that Beautiful Creatures:

• Works the same “new kid in school” angle as Twilight and about a million other YA books,
• Sometimes sounds a hell of a lot like Romeo and Juliet,
• Borrowed the “character quoting the classics” convention from A Wrinkle in Time, and
• Might be the first YA novel ever both to cite and quote Charles Bukowski not just once but maybe a half a dozen occasions over the novel’s 560 pages.

I sometimes wonder if YA books play by different rules than other genres because there are only so many setups for, say, meeting a new guy and encountering your first real romance. Would teenage girls say “I’ve heard this before, it’s just like these other eight books”, or would they give the authors (both of them) a pass on the strength of the rich depiction of an insular southern town and the fragility of high school relationships? Would they like Beautiful Creatures? I was invested enough to finish the book over Labor Day weekend with a long stretch on the front porch Monday afternoon but the last fifty pages or so pissed me off. I felt like the authors stacked the novel with subplots and ancillary characters they could never hope to resolve in one novel and the ending frustrated me. Could I say that in a teen book group? Would they care? Would the librarian moderator’s eyes get wide if I used the phrase “pissed off”? Would a couple of the kids argue against my perspective? Would they say something like “Shut up, old man, why are you reading a book aimed at high school girls, anyway?” Would they text insulting comments about me under the table? I have no idea. But if I could make an opening statement to the group I would defend Beautiful Creatures as insightful in certain passages but acknowledge some voices, esp. Lena’s, were underdeveloped. Teenage girls, I think, are more nuanced than Lena’s “I’m so sad! Wait, I’m happy! Now I’m mad!” behavior. And I would assert that setting up a reader for nearly 600 pages without a decent payoff is evil. Maybe the brainy teenagers would agree. Maybe they would roll their eyes. They might feel violated at my intrusion into their literary sanctuary and talk about Beautiful Creatures like I wasn’t present.

I wish I could go.
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08/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Jackie "the Librarian" So, you're reading Spooky Stargirl, huh? Interesting follow-up to Celine...

RandomAnthony I really like it so far! I want to join a teen girl book group.

Youndyc I enjoyed it. Looking forward to your review. And if you find a good teen girl book group, let us all know.

message 4: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I love it! I'm sorry you couldn't participate with the other teen girls.

RandomAnthony Eh!, I'm sad, but still strategizing...

Elizabeth, I've started to go through the reviews but I want to see an organic conversation. I'll read some now, though, thanks for reminding me...

message 6: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim Anthony, I'm afraid you're just going to have to peer in from the bushes. I have to give you credit for trying. I could always lend you one of my girls. You know, for the beard thing. You may have to suffer through some warrior cat fights and a bout of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

You should read Dangerous Angels.... I think it might be easier to relate to. The scene is basically the scene we grew up in only in L.A.

message 7: by RandomAnthony (last edited Sep 07, 2010 06:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony I'll check out the comments, Elizabeth, thanks...that's a good idea. I still wonder if the exchange is different in a book group, though.

Kim, honestly, now that you mention it, there are bushes and trees right next to the windows of the community room. I probably COULD hide in the bushes. Laura Ingalls Wilder is a big deal here, apparently she lived in state at one point, and the fourth graders at most schools read her work for Wisconsin history (never mind those native Americans, let's focus on some white lady writing about churning butter), so she bugs me. But I'd pay you back by taking your daughters to an emo concert.

Jean, I sent your video to a couple friends and they thought it was the best newscast ever. You're a star!

Jackie "the Librarian" You could do what I did, RA, and become a youth services librarian and RUN one of these groups.

You're right, the plot is a standard motif. New girl comes to town a LOT in YA books. Beautiful Creatures reminded me very strongly of both Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and Feed by M. T. Anderson. But I liked that in this case,
(spoiler space)

Lena doesn't wait for Ethan to save her, but figures something out on her own. In that sense, this reminded me of Wicked Lovely by Marr, although not quite as satisfyingly.

message 9: by j (new)

j RandomAnthony wrote: "Kim, honestly, now that you mention it, there are bushes and trees right next to the windows of the community room. I probably COULD hide in the bushes."

that is an excellent idea. do that, definitely.

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