Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Beautiful Creatures (The Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I had never heard of Beautiful Creatures before the movie came out. One of my former employees told me one day about her frustration that the movie didn’t match up to the book (spoiler alert: they are TOTALLY different). I put Beautiful Creatures on my reading list shortly after hearing her talk about how much she loved the book.

Beautiful Creatures is narrated by 16 year old student Ethan Wates. Ethan is stuck in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina where nothing exciting ever happens and being different is a social crime. Ethan has been experiencing strange dreams of a dark haired girl, in which he is trying to rescue her. The dreams seem so real –he can smell the girl’s scent of lemon and rosemary, and he often wakes up in the middle of the night with marks on his body that are consistent with what happened in his dream. The girl haunts his dreams, until one day she appears right at his school. The girl Ethan’s been dreaming of is none other than Lena Duchannes, niece of the town shut-in Macon Ravenwood and new student at Gatlin High school. But with Lena’s arrival comes a slew of odd occurrences, as well as a whole new world Ethan never knew existed.

I love this book. I file this book under one of my favorite books of all time. I typically have trouble relating to a male narrator, but Ethan was so adorable and funny that I had no trouble putting myself in his shoes. I also loved Lena’s character. She is struggling with herself, carrying a family curse while trying to have just a shred of normalcy before her life spirals out of her control. Although she is guarded, and at times temperamental, I couldn’t help but root for her and love her at the same time.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how the author explored the themes of light and dark. Lena, as a Caster, will be claimed for the light or dark on her 16th birthday. Most Casters choose to claim themselves, but due to a family curse where her ancestor Genevieve traded her soul for a mortal’s life, members of Lena’s family are unable to choose. Lena spends the entire book debating on her true nature. Although she is kind and sweet, she is also angry and impulsive. Ethan is convinced that Lena will be claimed for the light, but Lena possesses a maturity to know that it’s not that simple. Lena discovers along the way that it’s impossible for a person to be all light or all dark. Everyone harbors a dark side, but the important thing is choosing to be good. With the choice out of Lena’s hands, she is fearful for what her future holds for both her and Ethan.

I also love the other characters present in the story. Ethan’s best friend Link is your classic sidekick, always showing up to lighten the mood or to support Ethan and Lena. Macon Ravenwood, the supposed hermit, is really a complex and awesome character. He is outspoken, funny, and very protective of Lena and I loved seeing him shake things up in Gatlin! This book introduces many characters but they all help the plot develop. 

I think this book is a fantastic read. I couldn’t put it down once I started, so definitely clear out a Saturday if you’re looking to sit down and read this one. It’s a long book but I felt like every page was necessary. I loved watching Ethan and Lena’s relationship blossom, and watching Lena develop into a strong woman and Caster. I highly recommend Beautiful Creatures.

Side note: while the movie is 100% different from the book, I highly recommend it. It is so cute, funny, and well written that I couldn’t help but love it. As long as you keep in mind that it won’t be following the book, you shouldn’t be too upset.

8 out of 10

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