Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures
8.0 of 10

Written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Buy the Hardcover Edition from Amazon
Buy the Kindle Edition from Amazon

Unless it's post-apocalyptic or dystopian, I normally avoid young adult novels. Not that I think they're bad but because -as a guy already in his late 20s- I can't stomach the ham & cheese type of writing and romance of this genre. That's why I'm still questioning my reasons of why I bought Beautiful Creatures, and even finished reading it, despite its Twilight-like synopsis. Was it because it's Amazon's #5 book of 2009? Or was it because the hopeless romantic in me was enthralled by the book's boy meets cool/weird girl story? I hate to admit it but it was probably the latter.

As I've mentioned earlier, the book is pretty much like Twilight, a supernatural teenage romance. Unlike Stephanie Meyer's "magnum opus", the parties involved in Beautiful Creatures are mortals and casters -wizards, not vampires. There's also a role reversal in the story -which I really like- since Ethan (the male) is the underpowered mortal protagonist and also the narrator, while Lena (the girl) is the caster. Ethan and Lena's relationship also have a spin of Romeo and Juliet into it, since both their guardians are trying to separate them from each other because of their differences.

Unfortunately, the whole Romeo and Juliet theme is the gag factor. Because when the star-crossed lovers are apart they get angsty and long for each other, and when they're together all they do is cuddle, kiss, hug and tickle, instead of trying to find a way to stop the inevitable "claiming" that will keep them apart forever. It's all cute sometimes but, since these scenes are prevalent throughout the book, which also drags the story down, I can only handle it so much. There's also no sex, or talk about it, which I find unbelievable since most of the characters in the book are running on teenage hormones.

But what kept me interested in this book is the southern gothic setting. The story is set in a small town called Gaitlin. It's pretty much a totalitarian town that is run by small-minded, book-burning type of people. In this town, conformity and ignorance runs high. If you read a book, you're an outcast. If you don't have blonde hair and orange-tanned skin, you're an outcast. While there's a Voldemort-esque villain in the story, the real antagonist here is the town itself. Since the townsfolk are the ones who are trying to burn the dark-haired, pale-faced Lena on the stake, keeping him apart from Ethan, who is one of their own.

The mystery that blankets the town and its plot is also a page turner in this book. Like I said, Gaitlin is a small town with small-minded people. It's the kind of boring town that you just want to leave behind. But as you read further, page by page, chapter by chapter, the town gets more interesting as its buried secrets -past, monsters, magic and underground libraries- creeps up into the surface. Uncovering the mysterious plot -especially the one that shroud Lena's "claiming" and Ethan's power- was also gracefully executed by the writers. They would tease you with events upon tiny events that will keep you hooked.

It's a no brainer that this book was aimed towards the fans of Twilight, especially young girls, which will put a lot of people off (at least, the people I know). But I have to applaud both writers for trying really hard to get away from Meyer's grasp by using other supernatural creatures like incubuses, ghosts and spirits, and by reversing the roles of the protagonists (a powered female and a mortal male). But if there's anything that makes this book worth a read is its southern gothic setting and totalitarian nature, giving it a bit of dystopian flavor and a step ahead from Twilight.

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The Scud said...

is it as good as the hunger games/catching fire?

Skron said...

Nope. Hunger Games is better by a mile, especially its setting and characterization.

Beautiful Creatures is still a likable book though. Worth buying the paperback, at least.