Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mini book review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I suppose "I liked it better than Twilight" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement but that's about the best I can do for Beautiful Creatures, the supernatural Southern Gothic YA romance by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  Set in the small Southern town of Gatlin, where the Civil War is adamantly referred to as "The War of Northern Aggression," the book follows first-person narrator Ethan, misfit son of misfit intellectuals, who just can't wait to get out of there after graduation.  Until the equally-and-even-moreso misfit Lena Duchannes arrives in town to live with her recluse uncle.  Lena is a witch Caster and has been sent to Gatlin for protection until her sixteenth birthday when she will be called to serve Good or Evil.  She and Ethan fall in love and together battle against bullying, bigotry and magical forces.

On the one hand, the characters aren't limp, passive twits, swanning around because they're in love.  They actively work together to deal with high school bullshit, uncover historical mysteries and save Lena's life.  There is great potential here, if only it were written better.  All the book's characters - and there are a lot - seem half-formed.  The dialogue is flat and not particularly realistic.  And people seem to spend a lot of time focused on unimportant things, only to rush through the big action set-pieces.  Good, well-written YA fantasy is possible - see Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, for one - but Beautiful Creatures falls a bit short of the mark.  Although I did like it a lot more than that efffing Twilight crap.

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