Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Before I get into the review proper, this book is a perfect example of a blurb gone bad. The back of the paperback recommends this book to fans of Twilight or of True Blood. Yeah. I’m pretty sure what they actually meant was Vampires Diaries – a show that is at least similar in demographic. This book has zero in common with the Southern Vampire Mysteries and even less than True Blood which is truly an adult-focused show. A Trubie who wasn’t into Vampire Dairies probably wouldn’t get into this.
I picked up this book after seeing the trailer for the movie. To be honest, I thought the trailer looked…well. Cheesy. Casting Jeremy Irons as Macon Ravenwood honestly doesn’t help because I mean. He’s Jeremy Irons. For all that he is a good actor, he has way too many movies go into “so bad its good.” Dungeons & Dragons anyone? So when I picked up this book, I went into it with modest expectations at best. And based on that, I can honestly say that I got about what I expected, maybe a touch more.
The plot itself is fairly straightforward. Lena Duchannes is a 15 year Caster rapidly approaching her 16th birthday when she will either become Light or Dark. There’s a bunch of stuff about how becoming Dark will change you, but you don’t ever really hear about any consequences of choosing the Light. Presumably nothing will happen because the morality in the story is pretty black or white.
Meanwhile, Ethan Wate is a 15 year old average kid who dreams of getting the heck out of Dodge the second he’s old enough to do so. He’s cared for by “Amma,” a Seer since his Dad has pretty much mentally checked out since the death of his mother. He first spots Lena in his dreams before she steps foot in school. After some initial awkwardness they become besties, then full on boyfriend/girlfriend. He’s a Mortal with some kind of power, but said power is probably revealed in one of the three sequels.
So anyway, she arrives in his small town of Gaitlin, Georgia and is immediately an outsider because she is Goth-ish and lives with crazy old Macon Ravenwood so you get to deal with a lot of Mean Girl tropes and tropes of witches that don’t have control over their powers because they’re teenagers and have emotions. There’s even a Carrie-light scene in here at the dance, though admittedly the bad shit that happens isn’t techincally by her hand.
When you get away form the high school stuff, the story is pretty interesting. Much of the Caster material is interesting and you do meet a few good characters.
If anything, the biggest failing of the book is the use of tropes. Ethan’s friend Link is the non-stoned stoner friend who is always into band and gets seduced by Lena’s older Dark sister (and it’s obviously that she’s not with him because she likes him, though Link doesn’t see that). There are the Mean Girl Cheerleaders who dictate social order in school and are pretty much unredeemable people. Lena, as I mentioned before is a pseudo-goth who writes poetry. I do wish they hadn’t gone there, if only because none of the rest of the family falls into stereotypes and the authors could have made her an outcast regardless. Ethan gets slightly more development as a jock with a brain and fully devoted to Lena. He’s likable enough lead.
This is one of those books that if you go into with modest expectations and just looking for a light read you’ll probably enjoy it. Just don’t expect the wheel to be reinvented and you’ll be fine.
In the end, I still plan on seeing the movie and I will get around to Beautiful Darkness. As a testament to how it is just kind of there though, I don’t feel the urge to run out and pick up the sequels. There are still plenty of questions to be answered, but honestly I’d live if I never got them.
Verdict: Borrow it