Book Review: “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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.

beautiful-creaturesWhen I grabbed a copy of Beautiful Creatures from a Kindle Daily Deal all I really knew about the book was that a movie was coming out soon. I figured if it was a YA book that someone was making a movie about it that there must be at least a decent number of people who think its good. And, when I could get it so cheap, I figured why not give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen? It would be bad?

Well, in the end I sat on the fence about whether I liked the book or not. The first quarter was really, really slow in my opinion. Lots of exposition about being a teenager filled with angst in a small town where everyone knows your business and you don’t have much chance of escaping. Plus, some more brooding about why the strange new girl in town is in your dreams but won’t speak to you. I really had a hard time picking the book up again and again during that first stretch. It simply seemed like there wasn’t going to be much action for a book that was supposed to have magical creatures in some fashion or another.

Eventually things picked up though. Once Lena decides to tell Ethan some of the details surrounding her and her family and their magical powers the action starts to pick up and the story shifts from the relationship between Lena and Ethan to the trouble she’s in and what will be happening on her sixteenth birthday. Once all of the magical information starts to flow into the story things got a lot more compelling and there were a few parts where I had trouble finding a good stopping point. In short, the second half of the book is a lot better than the first half.

I do give the authors credit for doing something somewhat unique though. Instead of what seems to be the de facto practice of using a female character for the first-person viewpoint, they used a male character instead. That isn’t done very often in YA fiction of this kind. It actually took me a few chapters to get used to the idea of seeing things through the eyes of the male lead.

There are a lot of things that I liked about the Caster families and society the authors lay out, but there were also some things that I had a hard time wrapping my head around as being either necessary or even making any sense. I’m not sure if it’s because they were just laying the groundwork for future books (of which there are several), or if things just weren’t polished as likely as I tend to like.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ll read the next few books in the series. Part of me wants to see what happens next and part of me thinks I didn’t like the first one enough to want to take the time. The trouble is that I’m a bit of a completionist and now that I’ve read the first one I feel weird not having read the others. Maybe I’ll just wait and see if they show up on a sale again at some point, or if I run across someone who has a copy I can read for free.

Length: 590 pages

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

  1. I had mixed feelings on it as well. It was an engaging and fun read, but at the same time, the ending made me roll my eyes a bit. The book kind of felt like a mash-up of Charmed and Sabrina, which I was totally okay with.

    • Yeah, not many books leave me in such a fence-sitting state when I finish them. I either like them well enough to want to read the next one or I dislike them enough to walk away entirely.

      We’ll see what happens as to whether I read the others.

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