Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}'s Reviews > Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
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I see Beautiful Creatures as Adult Literary Fiction meets Young Adult with a heavy dose of Paranormal Romance.

The story is told from a male perspective (unusual for this genre) in first person by Ethan Lawson Wate who is stuck in a small southern town in the middle of nowhere, where no one moves in and no one moves out. You’re born there, live there and die there. Ethan wants to be different, he wants to get out and see the world, he’s tired of the small-town attitudes of his school friends and neighbours. He’s been having nightmares about holding onto an unknown girl he’s in love while she dangles in the air until he drops her, nightmares in which he wakes up soaked from the rain in his dream, and is haunted by a mysterious song called Sixteen Moons.

Everything in the town is the same until Lena Duchannes moves in with her reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood the town’s bogeyman. Everyone tars her with the same brush automatically believing she’s as “crazy” as her uncle, everyone but Ethan. He recognises her from the nightmares and sees something different in her. She’s a symbol of everything he wants: she’s travelled, she’s well-educated, well-read and she doesn’t think like the rest of the town, and when Ethan becomes her friend the town turns on them both. Ethan adores her until she reveals she’s a Caster, a magic-user who will be Claimed either by the Dark (evil) or the Light (good) on her 16th birthday but she belives she will go Dark. They form an unusually strong bond especially since he's only a Mortal and together they try to find out more about the Claiming to see if they can stop it but both Macon and Ethan’s housekeeper (or second mother), Amma stand in their way.

This is very slow-building, so slow in fact that it took me over two weeks to finish. Only bull-headed determination got me to the end. A lot of background on the town and its characters was given but there were parts that just didn’t interest me, like detail on the all-important war and the repetition of certain facts that got tiresome after a while as did Lena's behaviour, constantly pushing Ethan away "for his own good" when it was clear he wasn't going anywhere and all she was doing was hurting them both. I had to skim a few times.

Macon Ravenwood was my favourite character, I wanted to read more about him and his life. I also wanted more on Genevieve and her life after the visions, how much did she change after she made the failed bargain? How Dark did she become? I wondered if there was something special about Boo Radley the wolf-dog other than being Macon’s eyes, was his relationship with Macon symbiotic? It seemed like it. I think something more could have been made of Ethan’s father, I don’t know what exactly but there wasn’t enough interaction with Ethan especially after the suicide incident.

Ethan struck me as very feminine and extremely mature until quite late in the book when he found it difficult to say the words "girlfriend" and "I love you". I waited for his thoughts to turn sexual, like every hormonal teenager but it didn't happen. His unusual bond with Lena wasn’t really explained, even though there was a comparison to Ethan Carter Wate (Ethan’s great, great uncle) and Genevieve’s relationship, it wasn’t clear on what made Ethan able to feel and communicate (via mind-speak) with Lena so easily. There was a suggestion he was a Caster and then doors were opening of their own accord for him which was later explained away as his mother’s spirit helping him. Lena’s father is practically glossed over, we only know that he was murdered by her mother. I didn’t fully understand the extent to which Mrs Lincoln was possessed by Serafine, she said she wasn’t always possessing her so I was curious to know how much of Mrs Lincoln’s behaviour was due to Serafine and how much was her own nasty personality.

The ending was lack-lustre, rushed, not well-thought out, hodge-podge. Lena gets rid of the enemies quickly and easily, a flash of lightning was all it took. Lena isn’t claimed and doesn’t claim herself, she doesn’t make a choice instead a wishy-washy explanation was given – suddenly there is no moon and Lena, being a powerful Natural temporarily got rid of the moon so she wouldn’t have to choose (when did she have the time to do that?) until of course there is another verse of the song but instead of Sixteen Moons it’s Seventeen Moons. I’m guessing this means her choice has been put off until her 17th birthday. Ugh. I’m not sure if this is right because Ethan notices Lena’s eyes have changed colour, one has remained green and the other is now gold like those of Dark Casters. Shouldn't both of her eyes be gold like Genevieve's?

One thing that wasn’t addressed was the fact that Ethan and Lena could never be together physically, it was stated and then after the drama of the climax it wasn’t discussed by Lena and Ethan. I would think they’d be thinking about that as well as Macon. I can’t see them staying together, especially since Lena hasn’t admitted to killing the Dark Casters or even bringing Ethan back to life – which is another thing I’m not clear on. Is he truly alive? Why was his life traded for Macon’s specifically. I just don’t understand.

I know this review is quite negative but I do believe the small-town mentality was well-drawn. As a child I lived in a small English village in the country, my mother was the only black person and I was mixed race. We both felt like outsiders and the rumour-mill got so bad, led by the stay-at-home mums, that my mother sent me away while she packed our things and moved us out, back to the city. She didn't want me to be affected by their behaviour. Lena and Ethan were pretty strong not to crumble under that collective pressure.

I really wanted this story to finish in this book. I made an extraordinary effort to finish it due to the hype, some great lines and a few intriguing scenes, I deserved to be rewarded with a good ending. This book isn’t as concise as it could have been or as clear, I believe a concerted effort was made to make the town and the many characters realistic but the ending wasn’t right. The need for a sequel seemed to outweigh the need to end the book properly.
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Reading Progress

December 5, 2009 – Shelved
December 30, 2009 – Shelved as: young-adult
December 30, 2009 – Shelved as: paranormal
March 9, 2010 – Started Reading
March 9, 2010 –
page 24
March 13, 2010 –
page 36
March 22, 2010 –
page 49
March 23, 2010 –
page 106
18.83% "This is starting to get better but it's still slow-moving."
March 25, 2010 –
page 115
March 25, 2010 –
page 340
60.39% "I WILL finish this book!"
March 25, 2010 – Shelved as: magic-users
March 26, 2010 – Shelved as: read-in-2010
March 26, 2010 – Finished Reading
June 9, 2010 – Shelved as: bye-bye
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: 1st-in-series
April 12, 2011 – Shelved as: i-heart-the-cover-art
November 15, 2011 – Shelved as: series-abandoned
July 2, 2013 – Shelved as: stage-and-screen
July 12, 2014 – Shelved as: dtb

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