Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beautiful Creatures

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Warning – Very long rant coming up. May contain spoilers, though I tried really hard not to spoil anything too important.

Which book sports these characteristics?

- Supernatural romance;
- A new girl in the local high school of a city in the middle of nowhere;
- Mysterious recluse families;
- Telepathy, or the lack of it;
- Supernatural powers, such as persuasion, the power to control hurricanes, and the EVERYTHING POWAH;
- Instant acceptance of the supernatural-ness of the protagonist’s partner.

If you answered Twilight, you’re wrong. Okay, fine, you’re right too. But I meant you to guess Beautiful Creatures.

Sure, I’ll give it to you, on many points it is very different from Twilight. The supernatural creature is the girl, not the guy, and she is a Caster, not a vampire. And, yes, there is a little bit more of a plot than in Twilight, but I have to admit Beautiful Creatures seems a whole lot like a remake of Stephenie Meyer’s (sadly) famous vampire romance series, minus the originality of having exploited the idea first. On the back cover of my French translation paperback of it, it was even written that it was similar to Twilight. No joke.

I have wanted to read this for awhile, but couldn’t decide whether or not to go out and actually read it. After checking out a couple of fantastic book reviews about it (that were all written by absolute Twilight fans), I decided against and went to read a nice little zombie book. But then Beryl found it at our school library, and dared me to read it in another of our little “Who will read the worst book?” contests. I forced Beryl into the House of Night series, while she made me read the first instalment of the Black Moon trilogy.

Alright, let’s get this over with.

Like I said previously, the whole supernatural-entity-who-falls-in-love-with-a-mere-mortal thing has been done one thousand times over, and Beautiful Creatures is one of these. Its concept is a little bit too similar to Twilight’s for my taste, to be quite honest, but I was quite happy to see there was an actual mystery. Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a little by calling the plot a mystery, but Ethan and Lena – the protagonists – were actually trying to find stuff out and understand it. I didn’t like how they could just touch a medallion and have access granted to visions about the past: they didn’t have to work at all to learn stuff.

Also, this book was about the everlasting battle of good against evil, light against dark, nice against mean. This disappointed me a whole lot, because I had actually been half-enjoying my read before this whole aspect of the book came up. It’s actually written, somewhere in this book, that no one is gray. You have to be the nicest wizard out there and serve the light if you don’t want to be frowned upon. I really prefer more complex books, with betrayals, selfish characters, semi-nice characters and fake bad guys. Those kinds of books definitely have more depth than a bunch of good guys fighting the ultimate evil.

The characters were all right, I guess, if you call alright your typical emo witch who is the most powerful, liek, evar, and doesn’t know how to control her hurricane-summoning powers. Ethan had a little more depth, thankfully, but was really kind of boring too. He was such a nice guy, and a perfect, loving boyfriend, it made it impossible to think of him as an actual guy. Also, he loved Catcher in the Rye and to Kill a Mockingbird and talked like a love struck female teenager – wait, that’s exactly what he is. I’m 100% certain all teenage boys don’t act like he does. Sure, there are the odd guys who will love poetry, old plays and literature and sacrifice their friends for their girlfriend, but they aren’t also the star of the basketball team, aren’t super-popular and they didn’t just loose their mom. All in all, he was too much of a perfect little goody two shoes to feel anything near realistic, and I absolutely couldn’t feel attached to him.

Suspense-wise, this book had just enough of it to keep me alive until the end (though just barely). It did not sustain me, though, and there is so much more that could have been done! Authors these days don’t seem to explore the full potential of their ideas.

As said previously, To Kill a Mockingbird was one or Ethan’s favourite books. Sadly, I just so happened to read this book with my insanely incompetent English teacher a few months ago (this is the English Teacher who said “The fire caught the house” is correct grammar, and who takes her tests straight off the internet). She managed to make me hate this book a whole lot, so I was not pleased by the many, many comparisons between the two books. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic of literature, whether I like it or not, and this book can’t even begin compare to it.

Finally, the storyline itself doesn’t go anywhere new. Lena is oh-so-powerful; she will either become good or evil when she turns 16, her family is special, super-villains who turn out to be family, blablabla. I read about this one thousand times over, and in much better, more detailed, books, too.

I think I still do need to say at least something positive about this novel, though, so let me at least try.

I, um, liked... the front cover. Yeah. The cover art was beautiful! Check the one on the French version out, too:

Needless to say, I won’t be reading the next book in this series. Beautiful Creatures isn’t all bad, it just feels like it isn’t going anywhere new at all, just rehashing a bunch of ideas already exploited in every book ever written. It definitely lacks in originality, and doesn’t make up for this with good writing, interesting characters or interesting developments, since none of these were present.

I think I won this round, Beryl. (Beryl's inserted comment: Aw man D8) At least you were entertained, for the mere 200 pages of your book. I wasn’t, and Beautiful Creatures rambled on for 600 pages of boredom!

To conclude this rant, I’d like to apologize. To you, the reader who had to suffer through this book – I’m sorry I didn’t bring you the light before. To you, who read and loved Beautiful Creatures – I’m sorry; I don’t seem to like the same types of books as you, take no notice of this, and continue on reading similar mushy romance books for as long as you like, I won’t try to stop you.

-Aithen ;)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Rating: 5,6/10

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was pretty awful too. There were gaping plot holes, simply gaping. I mean that ending???


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