Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures Book Cover Beautiful Creatures
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.

Review:

It took me longer than it should have to get through Beautiful Creatures. I’d been looking forward to reading the book ever since I saw the trailer for the movie, but the novel turned out to be quite a letdown.

Don’t get me wrong – this is far from the worst book I’ve ever read, and there are some aspects of this novel that are praiseworthy. For example, I got a kick out of Ethan’s ancient, eccentric great-aunts, Mercy, Grace, and Prudence. They were always good for a laugh. I also appreciated that Ethan, despite being a popular jock, is a character capable of thinking for himself rather than letting his peers determine his actions for him.

Regardless of the bright spots mentioned above, though, I just wasn’t feeling Beautiful Creatures. One major problem was the romance between Ethan and Lena. I was originally planning to write that as “the romance that develops between Ethan and Lena,” but I realized that was inaccurate. The romance doesn’t develop at all, which is the problem; it simply appears and doesn’t seem to grow or change or improve in any way.

There seems to be no basis for Lena and Ethan’s attraction to one another. Ethan goes on and on in the book about how wonderful Lena is and how drawn he feels to her, insisting that they share a fated and unbreakable connection, but there is no real depth there. I felt no spark between them and wasn’t emotionally invested in their relationship. I was bored and didn’t feel excited in any way.

Another reason I couldn’t give this book a better rating is that the writing is just plain bad. This is especially the case in the scenes that take place during the Civil War (the book is set mainly in the present, but there are a few scenes that flash back to the past). The dialogue in these scenes sounds very stilted and unnatural, as if the authors are trying too hard to sound historically authentic. On top of that, what is actually said in that dialogue is simply absurd.

In one scene, for instance, a woman is zapped by a lightning bolt (don’t ask). She acts as if this is no big deal, and when her companion begins panicking and shouting that the woman’s eyes are changing color, her untroubled response is, “If there’s something wrong with my eyes, I’m sure it was because I was struck by lightning.” C’mon, really?

I’m still interested in seeing the film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures, but only because I don’t see how it could be any worse than the book. I definitely don’t recommend this to anyone.

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