9. Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl & 10. Beautiful Darkness – by the exact same authors…
I put off reading these two books for a while. I love the design of the covers, I’m intrigued by Southern Gothic YA, and they have good blurbs. Then, Beautiful Chaos came out, I heard about a Beautiful Creatures film being made, and I wasn’t living in the South anymore so it was finally the right time. I cannot say that I was disappointed.
Although Beautiful Creatures got a little too saccharine at times and since I’m not the age of the typical YA audience I do find the “I’m reading Catcher in the Rye – it’s soooo good” sort of recommendations a mite patronizing (I just can’t do the pretentious chuckle of recommendation); however, as a whole it was definitely a good story. I have no South Carolina experience, and I did not go to high school anywhere that someone would have forced students to attend a re-enactment or acted like the Civil War wasn’t over…and to be fair I’m not sure how much of that rings true anymore, maybe it’s the extremely small town atmosphere that contributes to those sorts of conditions. Anyway, the main character Ethan was very dutiful and consistent and very teenage boy so he definitely rang true for me. His relationship with Amma and her quirks were well defined as well. I can’t say I was invested in the main female character Lena, I have a thing about romantic stories and I also have a thing about manic pixie dream girls, even the depressed versions, so she’s the kind of character I have to take with a grain of salt. I’m not sure that I will ever buy strength underneath a façade of constantly giving up and random magic bitchiness moves. Teenagers.
As for Beautiful Darkness, it moved. The storyline was much more involved and would have seemed overwhelming had Beautiful Creatures not taken the aspects of its supernatural world so slowly (in order to frustrate its already frustrated teenage characters, it seems). I like the leads much better when they’re separated (even though to an extent separating them using a guy in a black leather jacket on a motorcycle is a bit too done) and I will say that if Beautiful Chaos ends up being about the couple being pulled apart and put back together again I will be annoyed. It helped that in Beautiful Darkness Lena’s “you don’t understand me” shtick also irritated and confused Ethan the narrator. And it does bear saying that having a ridiculously similar outcome in both books seems a little lazy, there’s only so long one can be held in suspense by the exact same thing and about six hundred pages is pushing it. However, in terms of new additions and female characters I did like there’s Liv. It is the job of a librarian, or a Keeper, in the book’s terminology for Liv, to know things and I like reading about ladies who know things. I wish they hadn’t pushed her off to the side, but perhaps that will not be the case in Beautiful Chaos. I have high hopes for that one since it seems like the books really hit their stride in Beautiful Darkness.