Sunday, 25 November 2012

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

*Thoughts on the movie trailers after the book review.
Published: December 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Series: First book of the Caster Chronicles

                Ethan Wate has lived in the nearly non-existent town of Gatlin since he was born, just as his ancestors before him did. New and exciting are foreign concepts until Lena Duchannes (rhymes with rain) enrolls in the high school. She is beyond the cookie-cutter crowd of girls his age. She is a brunette with huge green eyes and wears whatever she likes, not what is in style, including a necklace with trinkets that most would call junk, and she reads poetry. Unfortunately, this means that everyone else hates her. Except Ethan. He has been dreaming of her, literally, before he even met her. They are linked.
                One day in English class she is the victim of her peers’ ridicule and suddenly the window behind them blows out into tiny fragments. From this point forward she is labeled a freak and a danger to the student body, but Ethan is not deterred. Mysteries begin to unfold, linking them together, spanning hundreds of years. Obviously, Lena and her family are beyond normal in a paranormal way. But, as it turns out, so is Ethan, in his own way.
Lena is counting down the days until her sixteenth birthday, when a monumental event will occur. She will be Claimed for either the Light or Dark. Basically, she will then be good or evil, and once you’re evil, you do horrendous things and are separated from your family to protect them. There is no choice in this. It is simply fate. There is no going back once you are Claimed. And to top it off, she has to deal with the ignorance of a community who do not accept strangers into their flock.         
And remember, witch is a stupid word. 

Narration/Male POV
                This book, beyond a doubt, has one of the best male, first person POVs that I have ever read. It’s so natural and non-alienating that girls can read it too. He’s sixteen, on the basketball team, tall, and is always hungry. He needs a haircut but he isn't too concerned about it. His mother died the year before and since then, his writer father has locked himself in his study, rarely emerging to shower or eat cereal. He isn’t angst ridden, though he does reminisce occasionally. Day after day he goes to school and deals with life, no matter how crazy.    

Love Story
                The love story is actually believable. They do not hang out for twenty minutes and decide that they must be soul mates. There is the supernatural element involved where they have been dreaming of each other, sharing dreams, and waking up covered in mud and bruises from the dream. They touch an artifact and they share visions of the past. Yet they do not immediately start gushing that they love each other. The supernatural elements aside, this one of the more realistic love stories that I’ve found in YA lit lately.  

                I am biased, but the librarian character is awesome. Chapter 10.13 is named for her: “Marian the Librarian”. She is educated, unique, and kind. Not a reclusive, dusty, shushing crone. Her quotes of famous people and works are some of my favourite moments in the book, and Uncle Macon does this too and it made me smile while I read. As a librarian is, she is the gateway to knowledge. She was also Ethan’s late mother’s best friend.  
“I’m just the librarian. I can only give you the books. I can’t give you the answers.”

The pacing is only a little wonky to me when they finally discover the story behind the locket and then it seems to be forgotten. The story moves on to the next thing to be figured out, but there is a gap where nothing much happens, aside from the social issues stuff with Lena and the school and some reading of an ancient text. It is interesting to read, but my thoughts are that this is the slow bit. Perhaps something else a tad more exciting on the magical mystery front could have been going on too? Or maybe…could some of the content have been cut?

The hardcopy edition that I read is 563 pages long. I enjoyed the ride, but having a massive book can be a double-edged sword. Some people LOVE lengthy books. Longer stories can make readers feel good about reading so much, etc. But it can also deter readers. I know when I picked it up, in my head I thought, Of course. I’m trying to get content out on a new blog and this book has to be nearly 600 pages long. This work was created from two creative minds, and it shows. Honestly, some of the explanations of Gatlin or Civil War history and customs seemed unnecessary. This book could have used some editing to make the writing tighter.  

This book is admittedly too big for a normal book club. However, it has a detailed and intricate paranormal story set in the contemporary South, and it sports a fantastically accessible male POV. It has the themes including mental illness, death, family, good and evil, pre-determined fate, and social issues. I resented any annoyance (i.e., life) that made me put it down. I highly recommend it for teens who are beyond the bland paranormal romances that have flooded the market. If they want more meat to their story, this will probably satisfy them.       



          I went to see Silent Hill: Revelations 3D in theatres and a trailer for the Beautiful Creatures film came on in the previews. At that moment I knew I had to read the book. Surprisingly, it was still at the library!



            Lena looks...ok. She doesn’t have that “I clearly don’t belong here” attire. She just looks...pale. But she smiles occasionally so at least she’s not trying to be Bella Swan.
          The Youtube videos have enough comments about Ripley no longer being blonde. Personally, I think it makes more sense to make the whole family brunettes. It gives Lena a visual family. They look like her. They are her kin. Ripley lacks the rocker look she had in the book, though she is still a femme fatal. I thought Ripley was an awesome and complex character in the book so I am looking forward to seeing what she does in the film.
          Ethan...poor Ethan. It looks like he’s being played by a 30-year-old. He’s supposed to be 16 and he needs a haircut. This guy...needs to date girls his own age. While the Youtube comments have declared him ugly (which I think is unfair), I think they should find actors that at least look the age they are supposed to be portraying.

          Macon looks pretty close to what I was imagining. For some reason I imagined him with a curled handlebar villain mustache for a while. I don't know why. He is wise yet unavailable. Around...yet absent. He might be evil...but Lena trusts him and loves him dearly. For his actor...he looks ok? 
          “Marian the Librarian” appears to be absent from the trailers!

          Looks like Amma takes over part of her role. I am disappoint.  

          Now might be a good time to remind people that when you take a book and make it into a movie, it is called adaption. Taking the story to a different media (book to movie) will make it different because the way we make movies and write stories, and what works in books and what works in movies, are different. Very different. To make these ventures successful ($$$) the movies adapt, which is defined as “to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly”. Like it or not, films will change aspects of the books they are based on because the screen is different than the page. If you don’t like change, stay home.

Release Date
          Release date is scheduled for February 13 2013. Naturally, I’m already reserved to take some teenaged fans. I genuinely want to be blown away, so I can’t wait for February! Hopefully the world doesn't end.  


  1. Hmm, I might read this just because I work at a library lol. You sold me, hehe.

    1. It's fantastic! I hope the book gets popular from the movie :)

  2. hahaha the world didn't end yay! sadly the release date for the movie has been pushed to February 14th to draw in the valentines day crowd