Beautiful Creatures Book Review
The Caster Chronicles
The Caster Chronicles is a four book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The first book was made into a movie which was released in 2013. Though the Caster Chronicles ends with Beautiful Redemption, Dangerous Creatures, the first book in the spin-off series of the same name was released in May, 2014.
- Beautiful Creatures (2009)
- Beautiful Darkness (2010)
- Beautiful Chaos (2011)
- Beautiful Redemption (2012)
Beautiful Creatures tells the love story of two teenagers, Lena and Ethan, who live in the same fictional town in South Carolina, but exist in separate worlds. Lena is a Caster. Her family is powerful in a way that normal humans, referred to as Mortals, cannot understand. Her family also keeps secrets from the Mortals and from one another. Ethan is a Mortal, but is thrust into the Caster world as starts to fall in love with Lena, before he even meets her.
Ethan first discovers Lena in a recurring dream that he can't stop from sneaking into his sleeping brain. When he realizes the girl from his dreams is also the new girl at Jackson High, she becomes the only thing he cares about. He no longer even pretends to care about his reputation, grades, and the basketball team. The problem is that Lena is not normal.
Lena lives on Gatlin's oldest and creepiest plantation, Ravenwood Manor. Her uncle, Macon Ravenwood is the town shut-in. He never leaves his house and hasn't been seen in years. It doesn't help that wherever Lena goes, strange things happen. Unexpected storms and broken windows are the start of the weird occurrences that only increase in frequency and severity as Lena comes closer to her sixteenth birthday, February 11.
Beautiful Creatures is an impossible love story. Ethan and Lena might be perfect for each other in a different world. In Gatlin, South Carolina, they have a lot to overcome if they want to be together.
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Beautiful Creatures Paperback Book Cover
Review (contains spoilers)
Beautiful Creatures is an original and brave take on the teen paranormal romance genre. The authors do a great job of incorporating the setting into the story. The small-town southern culture is almost its own character. In a genre where most "normal" worlds take a backseat to the paranormal worlds, it is interesting how much the southern culture affects the story.
The book notably includes social commentary, making the novel a bit deeper than comparable teen romance books. I didn't appreciate some of the commentary (e.g. comparing being from the south after the Civil War to being from Germany after World War II). At times it was too judgmental for my taste or simply perpetuated stereotypes of the southern United States. However, I'm impressed by the authors' courage to tackle social issues in a genre not known for its depth.
The male protagonist, Ethan, is the storyteller. This is a bit different than most of the teen romance novels I've read, which focus largely on female protagonists. Ethan is likable, but I don't find him believable as a male teenage high school student. He is too deep, too romantic, too mature for a teenager. The only times he seemed like a real teenage male were when he had conversations with his best friend, Link.
Lena is Ethan's love interest and the story's main connection to the paranormal world. She is not as likable as Ethan, but they do have a good love story. She is also a bit mature for her actual age, but is more authentic than Ethan.
Overall, the story is original and exciting, but fell a little short. The authors were trying to do too much in too few pages. I found myself having to reread passages to see if I missed details, as some of the subplots did not always come together in a way that made sense. The story involved a lot of minor characters that I found more distracting than valuable. Ethan and Lena were not developed thoroughly enough for me to invest in their story, which made the ending drag.
I appreciate that the story ended. Sometimes authors end a book in a series with such a cliff hanger, there is no closure for readers. Beautiful Creatures can stand alone as a complete story. I didn't love it or hate it. The writing is good and the story is original, so I do recommend the book to other fantasy readers. I will read the next book in the series, Beautiful Darkness, to see what happens with Lena, Ethan, and their friends and families.
Beautiful Creatures Movie Trailer
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Beautiful Creatures Movie
Warner Bros. released the Beautiful Creatures movie in 2013. Movie critic Richard Roeper gave the film 2.5 stars (out of 4) in his review published on http://www.rogerebert.com/. Roeper praises the all-star cast of Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson. He is less impressed with the actual story and the leads who deliver it, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich.
Do you enjoy paranormal romance novels?
Paranormal Romance Series for Young Adults
While the Twilight series brought the teen paranormal romance genre to mainstream audiences, there is no shortage of these types of fantasy series on the market. If you enjoy this genre, you might also enjoy the following series:
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
- The Crescent Chronicles by Alyssa Rose Ivy
- The Empire Chronicles by Alyssa Rose Ivy
- The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater
- Fallen by Lauren Kate
Author Margaret Stohl
Author Kami Garcia
About the Authors
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created the idea of Beautiful Creatures over lunch. They decided to combine their passions into one story. Readers benefit from Kami's knowledge about the south and Margaret's enthusiasm for fantasy. A story that started on a napkin is available in 39 different languages and is a major motion picture.
Quotes from Kami
Kami and Margaret are friendly and accessible to readers through social media. In several interviews, Kami discusses the inspiration for their characters.
"We were not your normal, adorable, cheerleading, most popular girls in school, so for us, embracing who you are and your individuality is important."
"We have teens coming to our events, and some of them are coming out with their sexuality and bucking cultural norms. They tell us stories about their lives, and all I can think about is how much braver they are than we were at that age."