For a few years I watched Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garica circulate through my Media Center frequently, by teachers and students alike. I thought to myself, “I should read that.” But I always held back. Then I heard it was being turned into a movie and I thought, “Ok I need to read that.” So I did. Only I listened to it.
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.
So I finally read/listened to this! I figured it was time to know what all the fuss was about. And I was honestly, pleasantly surprised!
The main thing I think I enjoyed the most was the male main character and narrator. It is rare in Young Adult fiction to have a male be the narrator. Ethan Wate is a refreshing taste of YA supernatural romance through the eyes of a guy. He was a funny, flawed and incredibly loyal character and I enjoyed hearing the story as it unraveled from his point of view.
The story itself wasn’t most well written or most unique tale I’ve ever read, but it was fun. And this surprised me! I think after I recently read another supernatural YA novel (that shall not be named) I kind of had low expectations for Beautiful Creatures. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself being majorly entertained while listening and really wanting to find out what would happen next Particularly, as one who majored in history in college, I enjoyed the Civil War references throughout the plot. It was interesting to imagine what Sherman’s March to the Sea (where he burned much of the South in his wake) was like and the effect it may have had on the people who lived there.
One of my favorite minor characters was Marian the Librarian. It’s so nice to see a librarian portrayed in a positive way (again I will not mention that other book ehhhmmm). And I completely hated Ms. Jackson, who reminded me so much of Hilly Holbrook from The Help that I wanted to smack her! But this all makes sense to me now!
The audiobook and narrator were fine. There were some sound effects that were added in, which didn’t bother me too much, but the song…the SONG! It was SOOO hilariously bad I laughed every time it played. My husband heard it once and even looked at me with disgust on his face! It wasn’t the lyrics that Garcia and Stohl wrote that were awful, it was the audiobook’s take on how it should sound that was bad. We started singing it around the house to be funny and that it was! I was also pretty distracted towards the end when the narration suddenly shifts to Lena and the audiobook narrator for her just had no inflection to her voice and was pretty boring.
So, other than a few minor issues, I found myself really enjoying Beautiful Creatures. I think I’ll definitely check out the rest of the Caster Chronicles in the future (most likely on audio because they’re just so darn big!) to see what happens in the end. Fans of supernatural YA fiction will most likely find this one a fun and interesting read, so I recommend it to older middle school readers and up.
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (December 1, 2009)
Length: 17 hours and 38 minutes
Narrator(s): Kevin T. Collins,
Series: First in the Caster Chronicles series
Buy the Book: Beautiful Creatures