I just recently finished the fourth and final novel of the Beautiful Creatures Quartet by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The first novel, Beautiful Creatures was a magical story between high school lovers Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate. Ethan is a regular high schooler who recently lost his mother in an accident. Lena is brand new to Gatlin (the small Southern town that Ethan has lived all of his life) and comes from an affluent and “weird” family. Needless to say, “weird” translates to magical. I began reading this series when the film was announced to be released a little over a year ago. The advertisements looked amazing, storyline looked right up my alley, and the film had an all star cast (Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, need I say more?). This post will be a little more different, in that I am going to first review the novel series and then compare the first book in a little more depth to the film.
First off, this series was a joy to read. I liken it to the Harry Potter series, not only in that it has a magical element to it, but also grows a bit darker as the series progresses. The first novel is fairly juvenile, in that it concerns the story of a love that develops between Lena and Ethan. That got a bit tedious, but what really lived up the plot was the periphery characters: Uncle Macon, Amma, and basically of all of Lena’s interesting relatives. Beautiful Creatures is about Ethan and Lena’s love story and Lena’s “claiming.” Every relative in Lena’s family must be claimed on their 16th birthday, either to the light or the dark. The first novel ends at a cliffhanger right where the second novel begins. Overall, I enjoyed the continuity of the books throughout the series, in that they began right where the last one ended (unlike that of the Harry Potter series).
As the series progressed, the authors expanded the cast to darker family members of Lena’s and really explored a variety of concepts ranging from love, death, good vs. evil, and the strength of family. I especially love John and Liv. The two characters are outsiders to the central cast of the first novel, but quickly become integral pieces to the series. **Spoiler alert** The novels also try to tackle grief and death to a great extent. Macon dies in the first novel, Sarafine and Ethan die in the third, Abraham and Hunter die in the fourth. Clearly, there’s a lot of death, but also a lot of redemption and rising from the dead.
Now, onto some of my negatives from the novels. Overall, the authors did not go to great depths in developing their characters. Plot sequences were well developed, but please do not think you will be any of the greats like Tolstoy or Dickens. The writing is almost juvenile, but then again this is a young adult series so you have to hook them into reading and not make it too challenging. Other than the writing style, the only other aspect that I wasn’t a fan of was the last novel and how the series ended. Again, **Spoiler Alert** the fourth novel is all about Ethan’s death and returning him to the world of the living. Honestly, it was really boring. The plot wasn’t well-developed and the story really felt forced, like the authors were begrudgingly having to finish the series. Don’t get me wrong, some of the plot was really interesting in that the leading evil character was Angelus and Ethan’s journeys through purgatory were novel, but again, the novel was overall boring and I blasted through it, finishing in a record 4 days. Obviously, Ethan and Lena end up together (big shocker) and they continue their life in Gatlin.
Onto comparing the first novel to the film. Unlike the novel, the film lost its steam at about the first half. The first half of the film was exceptional; great plot, great special effects, amazing cast, and aligned fabulously with the novel. However, the last half dragged and the ending and pivotal parts of the plot that made the book great was lost in the film. At the end, Uncle MAcon trades his life for Lena’s. All of a sudden in the film, Macon dies and that’s how the novel ends. It’s really sad to have read the book and know that Macon will die for Lena, and then to see the film just lose it’s gas is really unfortunate.
Overall, the young adult series is worth a read for those that enjoy magical worlds and a few easy young adult novels. I would also check out the film once you read the first novel. The actors that portray the main characters are great to put faces to the characters in the novel. If you have read the books and share or do not share my opinion of the novels please let me know. I enjoy reading other’s thoughts and opinions, even if they differ from my own.