Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Beautiful Creatures

I meant to post this last week, then didn't. No good reason.

I had listened to a review of the new Beautiful Creatures movie and decided I wanted to read the book (because I can't legally acquire see the new movie).  Even more fun, when I went to buy it on my Kindle, I could also download the audiobook, via Audible, for only $2.99. This also allowed me to try out the new Whispersync technology being touted by Amazon, where my Kindle and Audible sync up, so when I stop listening, I can start reading in the exact same spot. This didn't work as well as they intended, since my Kindle can't connect to the internet properly. You people everywhere else in the world be thankful for your fast internet connections. Even when they're slow, it's probably better than mine. Anyway, back to this book.
I warn you, I'm going to spoil it if you desire to read it sometime soon.

The original cover, image courtesy of Amazon
via LibraryThing
I began by reading it on my Kindle. Immediately I was drawn in by the imagery of South Carolina, and particularly of the vivid description of life in the southern hamlet of Gatlin. I could feel the air, dripping with the fragrance of Confederate Jasmine, see the small town that hasn't changed much since "the war of Northern Aggression." We meet Ehtan Carter Wate, a son of Gatlin, who is starting his Junior Year at Stonewall Jackson High School. He's been dreaming lately, horrific nightmares that leave him covered in sweat, clawing his way out of the ground, with dirt under his fingernails in the morning. Amma, his grandmother-like housekeeper jumps from the pages, fully formed, with southern Baptist values, a good dose of common sense, and just enough superstition. It has been a difficult year already for Ethan, with his mother dying in a mysterious car accident. Her death left Ethan's father berreft, and he now locks himself in his study, writing "the great American novel." Ethan can't wait to leave Gatlin, to get out of the land-locked town that sucks the very life out of him.

Then, everything changes when Lena Duchannes moves into town. The electricity between Ethan and Lena is
The redesigned cover featuring the cast
of the movie. Image via LibraryThing.
palpable, and Ethan gives up his social standing to be with her. Lena has a dark secret, though, one which could literally tear them apart.  Lena's is a caster (think Witch) and at 16 she is chosen to be either a white caster or a black caster. Seraphine, the darkest know caster and Lena's Uncle, Macon Ravenwood, are fighting to control Lena's powers, for good or evil.

I enjoyed a good portion of this book. I felt fully immersed in Gatlin. It reminds me of every southern-belle, plantation home, good 'ol boy Southern city I've imagined. Ethan is a refreshing change as a lead character. He's realistically portrayed as being stuck, with no one to cling to, with conflicting feelings about life, trying to feel out who he is and where he belongs. Lena is less fully realized, in my opinion. One moment she's in love, the next she's crying, the next she's causing massive downpours.

When it finally reaches the conclusion, it drags on for a good long time. So long, I was bored by reading it, and even more bored by listening to it. Seraphine shows up and becomes what I like to call "Mrs. Exposition." This is the major flaw with the book, that it doesn't dish out enough details before the finale. It felt like a good half of the book was something happening, and it never being explained, or not until the overly-long ending.

Overall, I felt that the world was well-developed, the writing was solid, the magical realm was fascinating, and the romance wasn't overly sappy (meaning it generally didn't make me throw up in my mouth, romance=barfing noises). Where it flounders in the middle and at the finale, but it leaves an excellent cliffhanger for follow-ups. Recommended for students Grade 7 (about 14) and above.

LibraryThing Review:
The sleepy South Carolina hamlet of Gatlin hasn't changed much since the "War of Norther Aggression." Ethan Carter Wate, a 15-year-old basketball player at Stonewall Jackson High School is counting down the days until he can leave, until he meets new girl Lena Duchannes. The electricity between them is literally palpable, but Lena's secret life and strange family could tear them apart, literally.
The world of Beautiful Creatures is well-developed, with hints of humor and southern hospitality similar Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels (which are the basis for the True Blood TV series, although they diverge greatly).  The writing is solid, with fantastic imagery that leaves the smell of Confederate Jasmine practically in the air. The magical realm is fascinating, realistic, and terrifying, and the romance seems genuinely portrayed. Where it flounders in the middle and at the finale, drawn out and boring at times,  but it leaves an excellent cliffhanger for follow-ups. Recommended for students Grade 7 (about 14) and above.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting!