Saturday, 14 September 2013

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

As much as I wanted to love this series, I have it admit I struggled with this book: length-wise and plot-wise. There's a lot of acclaim for this novel and a huge fan base. I expect a lot of the love for the series comes from the YA audience it's aimed at-- teens who are desperate to find the next "Edward Cullen and Bella Swan"-type of love story. This book definitely gives readers the type of romance that today's best YA novels feature. Lena and Ethan really love each other and teens are definitely looking for their type of devotion and adoration in a romantic partner. In spite of their differences (these lovers struggle with the differences of a mortal and a witch) and the dark powers at work to ruin the world, Lena and Ethan have found real happiness.

The romance is great for the age-group, but the book is long and it drags. In my opinion, this book could have used an editor with a firmer hand. I found myself getting annoyed at a lot of text that felt like filler. There was a LOT of back-and-forth of indecisiveness and worrying on the part of Lena and Ethan. There were also many, many scenes of Lena whining about how they shouldn't be together. We get it: she has a terrible fate, her sixteenth birthday puts Ethan at great risk, her life sucks. There's no need to beat the reader senseless with it.

There's also a lot of waiting around for the ultimate dark event: her sixteenth birthday. A lot of wandering and aimlessness with the characters. Some tightening up of the plot and tweaking would have given the book a better rating from me. The book has so much potential, power, mystery and danger-- I don't feel like it gave us as much as it could. Or maybe, the authors planned to use the other three books to give us that oomph. Personally, I think the first book needs an amazing kick-off to pull me into the sequel. There was far too much build-up to Lena's 16th birthday and not enough of a pay-off in the drama and danger of the scene.
I love the Southern-spin on this love story, and I love that this supernatural romance is about witches. Thank you for stepping away from the vampire-love story (although revealing Macon and Hunting's secret lost the book a few more points from me).
As for the narrative style, the authors use the same open-ended, vague narrator as Stephanie Meyer, developing the other characters more than the main character. The open-ended, vagueness of the first-person p.o.v. allows the readers to submerge themselves into this ultimate love affair. While it is an effective device to hook readers, I still feel like I know Bella better than I know Ethan.
Overall, the book is edgy and has an exciting conclusion. There's no shortage powerful mythical things. It's a decent read and has good twist and turns. If you're a YA fan or a movie fan, give this book a go. It's a breath of fresh air in the YA section to have a book about witches. It's no Harry Potter and it really could have used a firm-handed editor, but young teens who enjoy the supernatural/romance/YA genre will enjoy it. As for me, I won't be reading the other books in the series. I'm glad I read it, but this is definitely not going on the favourites' shelf.

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