Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

in a sentence or so: Ethan has been having some pretty freaky death-related dreams. like when he wakes up there are physical remnants of his dreams, kind of dreams. so imagine his surprise when the girl he's trying to save in those dreams moves into his impossibly small town, bringing with her just as much mystery as he's expected...

Ethan Wate belongs. in Gatlin, everybody is somehow connected to the "war of northern aggression", either by direct descendant or at least living in the south long enough to refer to the Civil War as "the war between the states".  Ethan is also set apart. his parents were both writer/historians, which resulted in a little more open mindedness about life than the people of Gatlin were comfortable with. i use the past tense, because Ethan's mom, Lila, died a year ago.  his dad shut himself up in the study and hardly emerges but for a bowl of shredded wheat.  thankfully, Ethan has Amma. a highly spiritual (spirit being the key word) and loving caretaker.  let's just say that it's not an ordinary day unless Ethan finds a little doll stuffed in his dresser drawer or some salt around a windowsill with Amma around.

Ethan has edged out a pretty normal existence in Gatlin. he knows that in a mere two years when he graduates from high school, he will be out of Gatlin for good. he dreams of where he will go based on all the books he reads and keeps them tracked on a map in his room. all he has to do is wait for two years and he's ready to start his life.  until Lena. Lena, the new girl (which is pretty amazing in itself, since there hasn't been a new student in Gatlin since Ethan was in 2nd grade or something), is the one that's haunted Ethan's dreams. she's different, really different. as blonde as the Gatlin girls are, she has raven-dark hair. as prim as the Gatlin girls are, Lena wears all black and a clunky necklace full of junk hanging around her neck. and for some unknown reason, Ethan is absolutely drawn to her.

Lena is not only outwardly and socially different. she's REALLY different. when she's frustrated, windows explode. or it starts to rain. or hurricane wind gusts come out of nowhere.  and despite all that - despite the fact that she's not one of "us", Ethan can't stay away. reluctantly, Lena and Ethan form a unique relationship and she slowly opens herself up to him. not surprisingly, she admits to Ethan that she's a Caster (which, for our purposes, is kind of like a witch or supernatural spell caster).  not only is she causing a stir in Gatlin, Lena has some life changing events looming on the horizon. the kind of events that will not only impact her, but could possibly end the relationship between Ethan and Lena for good.

i'm trying really hard not to be spoilery, so please forgive the vague plot descriptions.  while the plot was pretty established about 100 to 200 pages in, there were bursts of action or furthering of plot development in the last 350 pages or so that could be spoilers if i dwell on them. what i can say is, this book felt a bit sluggish. now don't get me wrong - i adored the characters. i thought that Ethan and Lena were unique and had such individual and easy to relate to voices, but also that the huge supporting cast were fleshed out and developed. i also appreciated the dark-supernatural-fantasy elements that permeated the pages.  however, i also thought that a good 1/4 of the book could have been cut out due to repeating itself.  we read that Gatlin is a small town with strong Confederate ties about 30 times. and everyone, down to the history teacher and english teacher, are fleshed out for the reader.  each chapter progressed the plot a teensy tiny amount, but it certainly felt long to me.

overall, i thought the story was creative with the impending doom factor, some conspiracy theory factors, and general small-town crazy factor bundled with the dark-fantasy factors. the love story between Ethan and Lena was pretty sweet most of the time, and learning about all of the different characters in the story was fun too.  Ethan's voice was funny, insightful, and just plain awesome.  i'm assuming that a sequel is in the future, since there are a LOT of loose ends. like, not just cliffhangers, but blatantly unanswered questions.  ultimately, if this were about 200 pages shorter, i would be a huuuuuuge fan. as it is, i thought it was an okay read.

fave quote: "So that was my secret. All there was to tell.  I was sixteen years old, I was falling in love with a girl who didn't exist, and I was slowly losing my mind." (7)

fix er up: i appreciated the fleshing out of secondary characters, but i felt like that added with the plot repetition and slow reveal was just too much and weighed down the book.

title: Beautiful Creatures
authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
genre: Fantasy, Edgy

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

4 comments:

  1. Great review so I became a follower! Look forward to seeing what you review next!

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  2. well thanks! good luck with your two books out to publishers!

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  3. i insist "going bovine" gets reviewed.

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  4. well eriks, you can always read it and tell me what YOU think.

    i really do want to read "going bovine", and have it on request at the library.

    in the meantime, i've got some other award winning or honor books coming up for review. you're welcome.

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