Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2009. 563 pages.
1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] The problem in this story is that Lena, a new girl, comes to a small town and strange things start to happen. Ethan, a local boy in the small town, befriends her and finds out she’s a Caster (witch). Lena is turning 16, which will decide if she is a “good” witch or a “bad” witch, so Lena is dreading her 16th birthday. [Rising Action] Ethan and Lena try to find a way to break the curse on her family so she could pick her fate: good or bad Caster. They have flashbacks of Lena and Ethan’s ancestors which tell the story of the curse and they try to find the book that created the curse. [Climax] when Lena’s 16th birthday comes, she meets her mother, an evil Caster, who wants Lena to become evil as well. In the end, Lena hides the moon on her birthday, which changes everything because the moon, at the stroke of midnight, would have determined if she was good or evil. [Falling Action] Lena is then part good and evil, have two different colored eyes (green =good and gold=evil) showing that she is both. [Resolution] After fooling fate, Lena has another year to be “undecided” whether she is good or evil, and she and Ethan have more time to find out about the curse. Theme: The theme of this book is a mixture of Southern Gothic, magic, witches, and mystery. Tone: The tone of this book is very solemn and very serious. It’s getting closer to Lena’s birthday, which she is dreading, and she doesn’t want to turn into a “bad” Caster. Style: The authors’ writing style consisted of lengthy, descriptive background information, but also a lot of dialogue between the characters. It was very casual overall. Characterizations: There are two main characters in this story: Ethan and Lena. Ethan is a small town boy who wants to explore the world and not stay in his small town. He is adventurous, a reader, wants to learn more, and is very helpful. Lena is a new girl, very mysterious, quiet – toward most that is. When she is with Ethan, she a very powerful Caster, open, tells stories, and writes many of her thoughts wherever is accessible – wall, hand, journal, etc. Readability: This book was very easy to read and was a very fast read, even though it was close to 600 pages.
2. My reactions to the book. When first starting to read this book, I was intrigued: the reader doesn’t know what Lena is – only that she is different from everyone else. I was also very interested in the fact that Ethan, the male character, was the narrator – many YA books I’ve read are from the female perspective. Those, I felt, were the strengths of the book. A weakness I found was that it seemed the authors dragged on when they could have skipped a scene, making the story longer than it had to. Many young adults don’t like to read longer novels and that might deter them from reading this book. The writing was amazing; the authors really took their time to write an amazing novel. As for the material, since it’s about witches (or Casters, as they are called in this book) there isn’t too much that can be called accurate.
3. Comment on the cover art. The cover of Beautiful Creatures is very simple but shows the darkness of the book. I think it would appeal to teens because it’s not gender based – both boys and girls could be attracted to the cover – and the simplicity might make the teens want to read the back to find out more about what the story is about.