Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts on Beautiful Creatures

Last week a friend of mine, a librarian, ambushed me when I walked into my local library. She was clutching Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, a brand-new copy in crisp, perfect plastic binding. She told me the library had just acquired it and, though she had it reserved for herself, she had no time to read it. So she offered me her reservation slot, thinking I would like it.

I've long been aware of this book, in book stores and in the blogosphere, so I thought I'd give it a try.

A confession: I could not finish it. So this opinion is not based on a complete read-through.

For starters, I'll say a positive thing. I'm impressed that this was written by two authors. I'd be really interested to hear how they did this, since BC is not a narrative split between two characters the way David Levithan's collaboration projects are, or collabs between other writers. It is pretty cool that they were able to work together to create a relatively seamless story.

Well... let's start with the narrator, Ethan Wate. He's supposed to be a sixteen-year-old boy, or somewhere around that age, but he sounds like a middle-aged woman the way he describes peoples' clothes and stuff. It's stressed over and over that Ethan is "different" than the boys in his high school, but I really didn't see much of that. I felt like I was just being told that he's different and not really shown what's different about him.

The love interest is Lena Duchannes, who is the town pariah because she's the local hermit's niece. This is stupid. Real people don't really care who your family is. Sure, you'd be a curiosity, since there's so much mystery surrounding your relative, but the whole town wouldn't shun you and threaten to kick you out of the school! My next-door neighbour is a (super creepy) shut-in/hermit type, and I'd be interested in his niece, but if I hated her it would be because of her own qualities. I also just hate the name Lena because I knew someone named that once, and she was a raving lunatic bald woman. So that name's kind of ruined for me.

Basically all the townspeople in Beautiful Creatures were really stupid and one-dimensional. It's a sleepy Southern town, and yes, I get that. Not much changes around there, I get it. But the authors pound this into our heads every few pages. And, while I live in Western Canada and haven't met many Southerners, aren't they famed for being friendly and hospitable? What happened to that?!

I got to page 180, and I was still just vaguely aware of what the story was even about. I just felt like I was being jerked around, plot-wise, given the absolute bare minimum of information so I'd be "intrigued" but I just felt like I was being lied to. Also, the little mini flashbacks Ethan and Lena experience? Soooo hilariously bad I actually laughed. It was this really cheesy third-person POV during this little episodes, and yet when they pull out of it, Ethan and Lena know the peoples' names even though what they witnessed didn't tell them that at all, the third-person flashback narrator did.

Anyway. The verdict: completely lame. Skip this one, guys.

PS - I'm also reading Gone with the Wind right now, and as that is an infinitely better Southern novel than this one is, it probably coloured my disliking of Beautiful Creatures.

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