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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
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Beautiful Creatures

by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Caster Chronicles (1)

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I read this a while ago, and all I remember is being thoroughly bored, annoyed, unimpressed, and did I mention bored?

And the movie? PAHA!

Aly's Brain says...



Suck it, insta-everything.
( )
1 vote Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
Description: 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.

Thoughts: Well. This was better, um, than Twilight? Yes, better than Twilight. But, uh, not better than lots of other things I should have been reading instead. Yeah. That.

Pros:
1. The lead female character isn't a spineless mop with no self respect. Good.
2. The main character is a boy who isn't a domineering creep. Also good.
3. .......

Cons:
1. The South as a complete caricature, complete with your basic almost-slave black women who have the voodoo touch, ridiculous adherence to the FALSE uniformity of "The War Between the States" aka "The War of Northern Aggression" bullshit, the lynch mob mentality of small Southern towns, and the idea that the only redeemable people are the people who actually hate everything about the place they live.
2. I'm so over the teen romance with a twist of fate crap. Actually, I'm tired of the romance with a twist of fate in general. Can't there just be two people who, you know, meet and find each other really wonderful without it being because they were destined to meet and blow their little worlds apart? Seriously.
3. The dynamic in that school was truly fucked. Excuse my language. Coming from a similar environment, I could not, for one single second, believe that there weren't other people who had been the target of the popular snobs who wouldn't have been kindred spirits with Lena. There is mention of several other kids who aren't well liked. Why didn't Lena and Ethan make some effort to be friendly to those kids? Because they too were snooty and above putting themselves out there.
4. Thank god for inexplicable changes in the established reality because, for a second there, I was afraid we were on the brink of a concrete resolution. Wouldn't want that now, would we?

I won't be reading the other books in this series. The actual plot wasn't particularly bad. I mean, it wasn't my taste really, but it had merits. The details destroyed it's credibility though. It really did feel like some out of touch Northerner's idea of what growing up in the South was probably like for, you know, the lone intelligent kid with integrity amidst all the rest of us ignorant, pitchfork wielding, book burners.

It seems very poignant that I was listening to this at the exact moment when Brad Paisley is creating an uproar with his song "Accidental Racist." I don't think the song was well thought out or executed but I understand what he was trying to say. It's one of those things that genuinely does exist, it seems, in the very identity of a lot of us modern Southerners- the balance between loving the place we are from and being proud of a lot of things in our heritage and, at the exact same moment, completely detesting a lot of the things that came along with that heritage. If you haven't lived that, it will probably never make sense. There comes a point where you genuinely feel like you shouldn't have to quantify yourself anymore, to declare your disgust at the racists and bigots of the world, that needing to say "I'm a proud Southerner, but not one of THOSE Southerners" starts to become it's own kind of oppression.

I'm certainly not an apologist but I am a realist and whatever world the authors of this book think I live in... well, it doesn't exist. Is it the job of fiction, especially fantasy, to depict the world as it is? No. But if you are going to make these sickening generalizations, do it in your own backyard next time. Mine is taken.

Rating: 2.67

Liked: 2.5
Plot: 3
Characterization: 2.5
Writing: 2.5
Audio: 3

http://www.librarything.com/topic/151287#4033391 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 17, 2015 |
The creepiest guy in town. The oldest plantation. An even older secret and curse. And Lena Duchannes is related to it all. When she moves in with her uncle Macon Ravenwood, she is determined to live a normal life going to school and making friends. But since her uncle is an endless source of gossip because he never comes out of his house, no one wants to talk to her. No one, that is, except Ethan, who has been having dreams about Lena for months, but doesn't know why or how they are connected. Ethan is determined to find out what their connection is, even though he has been outcast from the circle of friends he has known his whole life. As Lena and Ethan grow closer, Ethan is brought into a world of Light and Dark he never know existed. And the world of Light and Dark is dropping puzzle pieces into his life which don't seem to fit together. I had been wanting to read this book for a while, but never got around to it, and now I don't know why I waited! I could hardly put this one down. I love the mystery and magic in it, and the world is not vampires or werewolves or zombies; all of those topics are overdone right now. And the love story isn't too sappy for me; some teen books with love stories are just too over the top and annoying, but this one doesn't bother me. I have the second book of the series ready to go, but I have some other reading to do first, and I can hardly wait to get to Beautiful Darkness! ( )
  litgirl29 | Dec 9, 2014 |
Beautiful Creatures is another entry into the rapidly expanding genre of Paranormal Romance for Young Adults. I'm also wary of writer duos, because I can't fathom how one can maintain a cohesive voice and vision when in two separate heads. I probably would not have picked it up if not for the enticing trailer shown in theaters, and probably shown over and over on TVs all across America.

Despite these serious charges against Beautiful Creatures I was only occasionally aware of how heavy the book was. It was like reading an early Dianne Wynne Jones book set in a high school; the magical imagery, a cast of many, the well done atmosphere mixing the local roots (here: the deep south) with witches (here: casters), and the not-so-trite romance.

Having Ethan, the male lead, tell the story, and for so much of their physical intimacy be interrupted by his--well--being on the brink of death for being so close to her, it's a bit of a tell-tale sign that there is more to this 'mere mortal' than meets the eye. While a great deal was wrapped up in this volume--thank god!--I know we'll be looking into his mother's ties to the Caster community in the future. Things like that are as much a blessing as a curse, because we know he'll be important to the story eventually, otherwise, why bother telling his story? Although, he often is just an eye-piece for us to view Lena's world through, a much more passive male character, but far from stagnant--unlike Georgian swamp water. I look forward to reading the sequel which is already in my hands.

I could complain about how slowly the locket segments carried through, or how ridiculously the father behaves, but so much about this book was good that I can't help but thank Garcia and Stohl for making this work. I wish I had thought to mark down some of the wonderful quotations, and I wish I had been a little bit more forgiving about the few repetitive remarks that Ethan made which discussing Amma's Voodoo--which there definitely could have been more of. Also, I dislike all Veterinary shenanigans in Media. Ethan's knowledge of Animal Medicine is only rivaled by the unlikelihood of Scott McCall's splinting skills on Teen Wolf. Thankfully that chapter was only seven pages long. As a person who has spent their entire life in an Animal Hospital, this is my true pet peeve. So many people get it wrong, and I wonder if I will have to be the one to get it right.

That was a sour note to end on, but I want to be clear: despite all my complaining, Beautiful Creatures was a book worthy of being turned into a movie, not that that is going to end up anywhere as good as the series has potential to, I'm afraid. Nothing more can be done, unfortunately. Unless we start taking the mini-series and limited run TV shows more seriously.

One can dream, can't one?

563 pp. Little Brown. Paper.
  knotbox | Dec 1, 2014 |
Originally Published On My Review Blog http://www.thebookavid.blogspot.com

In "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami García and Margaret Stohl spellcaster Lena Duchannes falls in love with mortal dude Ethan Lawson Wate.

This is a typical high school love story. Starting at insta-love and ending with "I'll kill my family for you"- this has everything I would have loved at 15. Actually, this does feel like Twilight even though I hate to compare stuff to that all the time. Where Twilight shows disgusting co-dependency and a family full of stylish supermodels, "Beautiful Creatures" has very weird social outcasts that are probably more vampiric (is that a word) than the entirety of the Cullen family.

"Beautiful Creatures" takes place in the town of Gatlin, and I need to mention this because the authors won't shut up about the fact that eveyone in Gatlin a raging redneck obssessed with the Civil War. Why does every story set in the south have to involve the Civil War somehow? Of course, there also Civil War ghosts in this, how could you write a cliche southern love story without them? What bugs me the most aside from the fact that every southern cliche ever is in this novel - beginning at everyone having a black housekeeper and everyone over 40 wearing those ridiculous hats, is that they decided to write the accents out. "Of" becomes "A" and "-ing" becomes "in'". Yeah, we're in the South, I got that. No need to emphasize this. This doesn't add authenticity, it just makes it feel like the authors couldn't show the vibe through their words and had to use a few tricks. Not tricky, just bad though.

While I am a big fan of backstories and intervowen story lines, "Beautiful Creatures" has too much of that. We have the tragic story about Lena's and Ethan's deceased family members, their Civil War doppelgangers, Lena's weird family coming into town, Ethan's mother's beat friend being tied into it - ugh, it's just a mess! None of the storylines is actually tied together with the ending. Not even a single one. I get that it's a series and it's supposed to make sense in the bigger picture, but honestly, a novel has to be cohesive in itself. "Beautiful Creatures" isn't. Not at all. They got lost in the epic end battle, that wasn't only badly written but also extremely confusing. I don't want to spoiler you guys, but I think that the other novels all end like this one. Nice way of getting out of using LOGIC to use your weird-ass problems. (Plot 1/5)

"Beautiful Creatures" wants to be a character-driven novel. There are so many different people playing key roles, having a backstory of their own and whatnot - but it's just not thought through. By the end of the novel I STILL didn't get how everyone is related. What always annoys me with having so many characters is using family gatherings as an excuse for making the reader familiar with all characters. It's even worse to introduce them one after another. García and Stohl introduce a lot of technical terms related to witchcraft, from the specific names for every type of caster to stuff like sanguinis circle (what is that all about?) but resolve none of it.

Also, in all those paranormal novels - how can it be that there are never two family members with the same supernatural gift? You do the math, if there are about 50 different types or something, how does it NEVER happen that there are people who can do the same things? Also if I read about another main character being the steeped-in-legend master of whatnot, the only person who can save or kill the world blabla, I'm going to fling myself off a cliff. I have a hard time believing that it's a good idea to entrust a hormonal 16-year-old with so much power that literally everyone could die if she decides to go darkside or lightside, whatever. Just lock this kid up. (Characters 1/5)

Telling the story from the boy's perspective is a nice twist. Well, I wish I had known about this earlier because I would have never picked this novel up had I known this. I just don't do well with novels told from the boy's POV, and that's just a personal preference. Ethan is the most superficial jock of all time who thinks his mind is a deep as the abyss - and like, come on, making your 15-year-old character be all into Bukowksi, T.S. Eliot and J.D. Salinger just makes me gag. Really. Don't glorify these dudes. Also, liking to read doesn't always mean you have to be into the classics, ya know? A lot of authors don't seem to get this and I often ask myself if they only read stuff like that. Makes sense then, why they produce such a senseless mess of a novel then if they only read misogynst literature and deep, deep poetry.
I skimmed a lot of this novel, I'm not going to lie. For the thin storyline it's just way too long and Ethan and Lena don't have chemistry at all. They're superficial illogical stupid teenager and yeah, they do remind me of Romeo and Juliet. Who, by the way, wanted to get married after like 3 days, kicked off a series of murder and were too stupid to just run away with each other. Running away solves a lot of problems in YA; Ethan and Lena didn't seem to have gotten the memo. (Writing 2/5)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I think that this might work as a tv series or a movie, but not as a novel. It's boring, it's trying too hard to be dark and just a mess. You can tell that the editor didn't even bother. I had no fun reading this so no recommendation. I'm glad that I even managed to finish. ( )
  bookavid | Nov 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 325 (next | show all)
The intensity of Ethan and Lena's need to be together is palpable, the detailed descriptions create a vivid, authentic world, and the allure of this story is the power of love. The satisfying conclusion is sure to lead directly into a sequel. Give this to fans of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" (Little, Brown, 2005) or HBO's "True Blood" series and they will devour all 600-plus pages of this teen Gothic romance.
 
The 600-plus pages could have been cut to make a tighter, better story. Despite the bulk, there’s plenty teens will like: romance, magic, hauntings, and the promise of more to come.
added by khuggard | editBooklist, Ilene Cooper
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kami Garciaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stohl, Margaretmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Caplan, DavidDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collins, Kevin T.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.


Martin Luther King Jr.
Dedication
For
Nick & Stella
Emma, May & Kate
and
all our casters & outcasters, everywhere.
There are more of us than you think.
First words
There were only two kinds of people in our town. "The stupid and the stuck," my father had affectionately classified our neighbors.
Quotations
Sixteen moons, sixteen years                                 Sixteen of your deepest fears                                 Sixteen times you dreamed my tears                       Falling, falling through the years...
Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est.                     Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est.                     Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est.                     Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est.
Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est!                     Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est!                     Sanguis sanguinis mei, tutela tua est!                     Blood of my blood, protection is thine!
Cruor pectoris mei, tutela tua est!                           Blood of my heart, protection is thine!
CRUOR PECTORIS MEI, TUTELA TUA EST.                VITA VITAE MEAE, CORRIPIENS TUAM, CORRIPIENS MEAM.                                                                 CORPUS CORPORIS MEI, MEDULLA MENSQUE, ANIMA ANIMAE MEAE, ANIMAM NOSTRAM CONECTE.                                                            CRUOR PECTORIS MEI, LUNA MEA, AESTUS MEUS.   CROUR PECTORIS MEI. FATUM MEUM, MEA SALUS.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
This book is told in a boy, Ethan Wate's, POV. He lives in a town, Gatlin, where nothing happens and nobody is different.
Ethan has been having these dreams about losing a girl who he thinks he is falling in love with. Which is crazy because he only knows her through a dream and she is probably not even real. Then suddenly a girl who is the town shut-in's niece moves to Gatlin and dares to be different. Her and Ethan seem to have an odd connection. This book is amazing and filled with adventure, suspense, and romance. It also has a lot of references to the book To Kill a Mockingbird.  
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316042676, Hardcover)

Ethan Wate is struggling to hide his apathy for his high school "in" crowd in small town Gatlin, South Carolina, until he meets the determinedly "out" Lena Duchannes, the girl of his dreams (literally--she has been in his nightmares for months). What follows is a smart, modern fantasy--a tale of star-crossed lovers and a dark, dangerous secret. Beautiful Creatures is a delicious southern Gothic that charms you from the first page, drawing you into a dark world of magic and mystery until you emerge gasping and blinking, wondering what happened to the last few hours (and how many more you're willing to give up). To tell too much of the plot would spoil the thrill of discovery, and believe me, you will want to uncover the secrets of this richly imagined dark fantasy on your own. --Daphne Durham

Amazon Exclusive Interview with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Authors of Beautiful Creatures

What does your writing process look like? Is it tough to write a book together? Did you ever have any knock-down drag-out fights over a plot point or character trait?

Margie: The best way to describe our writing process is like a running stitch. We don't write separate chapters, or characters. We pass the draft back and forth constantly, and we actually write over each other's work, until we get to the point where we truly don't know who has written what.

Kami: By the end of the book, we don't even know. The classic example is when I said, "Marg, I really hate that line. It has to go." And she said, "Cut it. You wrote it."

Margie: I think we were friends for so long before we were writing partners that there was an unusual amount of trust from the start.

Kami: It's about respect. And it helps that we can't remember when who wrote the bad line.

Margie: We save our big fights for the important things, like the lack of ice in my house or how cold our office is. And why none of my YouTube videos are as popular as the one of Kami's three-fingered typing…okay, that one is understandable, given the page count for "Beautiful Creatures."

Kami: What can I say? I was saving the other seven fingers for the sequel.

What kinds of books do you like to read?

Kami: I read almost exclusively Young Adult fiction, with some Middle Grade fiction thrown in for good measure. As a Reading Specialist, I work with children and teens in grades K-12, so basically I read what they read.

Margie: When I write it comes from the same place as when I read: wanting to hang out with fictional characters in fictional worlds. I identify more as a reader than a writer; I just have to write it first so I can read it.

What books/authors have inspired you?

Kami: "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories" by Flannery O'Connor, "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury and "The Witching Hour" by Anne Rice. I also love Pablo Neruda.

Margie: I think Harper Lee is the greatest writer alive today. Eudora Welty is my other Southern writer kindred; I was obsessed with her in grad school. Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones made me love fantasy, and my favorite poets are Emily Dickinson (at Amherst College, I even lived on her street) and Stevie Smith.

Did you set out to write fiction for young adults? Why?

Kami: We actually wrote "Beautiful Creatures" on a dare from some of the teen readers in our lives.

Margie: Not so much readers as bosses.

Kami: Looking back, we wrote it sort of like the serialized fiction of Charles Dickens, turning in pages to our teen readers every week.

Margie: And by week she means day.

Kami: When we were getting texts in the middle of the night from teens demanding more pages, we knew we had to finish.

Margie: As it says in our acknowledgements, their asking what happened next changed what happened next. Teens are so authentic. That's probably why we love YA. Even when it's fantasy, it's the emotional truth.

A lot of us voracious readers like to cast a book after reading it. Did you guys have a shared view of who your characters are? Did each of you take a different character to develop, or did you share every aspect?

Kami: We've never cast our characters, but we definitely know what they look like. Sometimes we see actors in magazines and say, "Lena just wore that!"

Margie: We create all our characters together, but after a point they became as real as any of the other people we know. We forget they're not.

Kami: I never thought of it like that. I guess we do spend all our time talking about imaginary people. Margie: So long as it's not to them…

Did you always plan to start the book with Ethan's story? Why?

Kami: We knew before we started that we wanted to write from a boy's point of view. Margie and I both have brothers—-six, between us-—so it wasn't a stretch. It's an interesting experience to fall in love with the guy telling the story rather than the guy the story is about.

Margie: We do kind of love Ethan, so we wanted there to be more to him than just the boy from boy meets girl.

Kami: He's the guy who stands by you at all costs and accepts you for who you are, even if you aren't quite sure who that is.

What is on your nightstand now?

Kami: I have a huge stack, but here are ones at the top: "Mama Dip's Kitchen," a cookbook by Mildred Council, "The Demon's Lexicon" by Sarah Rees Brennan, "Shadowed Summer" by Saundra Mitchell, "Rampant" by Diana Peterfreund, and an Advanced Reader Copy of "Sisters Red" by Jackson Pearce.

Margie: I have Robin McKinley's "Beauty," Maggie Stiefvater's "Ballad," Kristen Cashore's "Fire," Libba Bray's "Going Bovine," and "Everything Is Fine" by AnnDee Ellis. And now I'm mad because I know a) Kami stole my "Rampant" and b) didn't tell me she has "Sisters Red"!

What is your idea of comfort reading?

Kami: If given the choice, I'll always reach for a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy. I also re-read my favorite books over and over.

Margie: It's all comfort reading to me. I sleep with books in my bed. Like a dog, only without the shedding and the smelling.

Have you written the next book already? What's next for Lena and Ethan?

Margie: We are revising the next book now. I don't want to give too much away, but summer in Gatlin isn't always a vacation.

Kami: I would describe book two as intense and emotional. For Ethan and Lena, the stakes are even higher.

Margie: That's true. Book two involves true love, broken hearts, the Seventeenth Moon, and cream-of-grief casseroles…

Kami: Gatlin at it's finest!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:00 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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