Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (2009)

Genre: Fantasy
Interest level: 13-16
Beautiful CreaturesThis has been out for a couple of years, so I’m a bit late in getting to it. But a good recommendation sent me to the ebook collection at VPL. This is the first title in the Caster Chronicles. Casters are, as you might guess, witches. Or rather, the preferred term for witches. This is a story of doomed love between a mortal and a caster, from the perspective of Ethan, the mortal teen. (Yup, a mirror image of Twilight.) There is a decidedly formulaic feel to this typical YA fantasy – forbidden love, strange creatures that defy our reality, a nasty clique at high school, and the requisite unhelpful adults, with the exception of a librarian with a Ph.D. (Noah Wylie’s character in a skirt). The timeline is typical – 150 or so days until Lena’s 16th birthday, when she’ll be claimed by either Light or Dark. Set in the South, the two teens’ Civil War ancestors play a pivotal role. The plot is predictable and the book is too long. How much driving off to clear one’s head can a teen do? He doesn’t even have a car! The writing is uneven and occasionally painful. Consider this gem from a shower scene: “No matter how hard I scrubbed, I couldn’t get my heart to stop pounding.” I do understand why it’s a hit with teen readers, who are lost in the love story and the magic, and the promise of more to come. Disengage your logic and critical thinking functions, enjoy the unusual male protagonist/perspective and savour the Southern references when they appear (far too few in general, far too many of the Civil War). Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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