Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

(Includes rant about young adult fiction)


I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it – I have the same guilty conscience after reading Beautiful Creatures as when I have eaten too much chocolate and enjoyed every bite. Here is yet another young adult novel with a supernatural twist and lo and behold, the main characters are teenagers and the balance between good and evil in the world is at risk. So far, Beautiful Creatures is generic, one in an unending line of young adult novel á la the Twilight Saga, and yes, this one is now a major motion picture. Surprised? Nah, not so much.

However, Beautiful Creatures made a good impression on me and has its own identity and unique supernatural world. Winning characteristics include the male protagonist (I kid you not) and the novel’s Southern flair, which is far from the white trash in the Sookie Stackhouse series, but retains that old plantation, Civil War reenactment, history-saturated atmosphere, which the authors manage to incorporate in the plot. The uniqueness of the supernatural twist is also refreshing. Sure, elements are recognizable from popular lore, but it has a new spin. Beautiful Creatures is far from witches with pointy hats with casters, whose gifts are indeed burdens to bear.

Now I am not going to give you a synopsis of the plot, because it is fairly predictable, even with a full scale war reenactment in the background, but only tell you that the interesting characters drive the plot. That said, Beautiful Creatures has a soap opera feel to it, which leads me back to I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it.

At least part of my apprehension is the popularity of young adult fiction. It is predictable, easy entertainment without the guise of literature or linguistic sophistication, in other words, the written equivalent to romantic comedies without the snazzy remarks, if it was not for the fact that the main characters are teenagers. Teenagers, who carry the world on their shoulders and experience great tragedy and love at the age of 16. And still, young adult fiction keeps young adults (otherwise known as teenagers) as well as adults (primarily women in my experience) glued to the page. Why do we wish to read about idealized 16-year-olds in love stories that remind me of the complete works of Barbara Cartland, many with that alluring supernatural twist? I continue to be flabbergasted, but occasionally I end up with yet another young adult novel in my hands, looking forward to the strong emotions, black and white fictional reality, and the supernatural twist, where you can create a thunderstorm, just because you are angry.

Would I recommend Beautiful Creatures? Yes, to readers of young adult fiction – young and old.

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