Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl ISBN: 978-0316042673, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)

Plot Summary:

Sixteen year old Ethan is bored of small town Southern life, so when he hears that there is new girl in town he is intrigued. It doesn’t help that Ethan keeps on hearing a creepy song playing in his head whenever she is near. Lena is different and the DAR moms are out to get her. Ethan soon learns that Lena is a Caster, a witch, and that her whole family is Casters and that the two of them are linked telepathically, and also through a locket that enables them to relive the experiences of a doomed nineteenth couple. Lena is also convinced that when she turns sixteen, she will become a dark witch, but her uncle is not so sure.

Critical Evaluation:

Beautiful Creatures has very little to recommend it. The writing is sloppy and could use a better editor. The main character lacks realism; upon finding out that a fifteen year old girl can hear his thoughts constantly, this seemingly healthy sixteen year old boy has no negative reaction. His only inclination to the panic that any normal person would feel is to recite scores in his head. Beautiful Creatures also commits the high crime of fantasy novels: the use of magic does not adhere to any set of rules. When Lena finds out that the three “mean girls” had decided to dress as witches to mock her, complete with her birthmark in eyeliner on their cheek, she somehow manages to change the birth marks so that they the girls had actually used permanent marker, which all three find in their purses. This seems to insinuate that Lena has some kind of ability to effect events that have already occurred. Since such a power would have huge implications for any plot line, this is something that would have been addressed in a better constructed fantasy setting. However, it is clear that very little thought went into the creation of the world of the Casters. The world is divided into Casters and Mortals, but the term Mortal seems to have been borrowed from other fantasy books as there seems to be no reason to refer to the non-magic users using the word “mortal.” The reader is given no indication that Casters are immortal. There is very little that is original in this novel and reading the book feels like a rehashing of material that was better left in the hands of more talented writers.

Information about the authors:

Kami Garcia grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in spiral notebooks. As a girl with Southern roots, she has always been fascinated by the paranormal and believes in lots of things “normal” people don’t. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13″ on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.

Kami has an MA in education, and taught in the Washington DC area until she moved to Los Angeles, where she was a teacher & Reading Specialist for 14 years. In addition to teaching, Kami was a professional artist and led fantasy book groups for children and teens. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, daughter, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times Bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures Novels, which were also USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Indie-Bound, Wall Street Journal and International Bestsellers.

She is a graduate of Amherst College, where she won the Knox Prize for English Literature, Margaret earned a MA in English from Stanford University, and completed classwork for a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. Margaret was a teaching assistant in Romantic Poetry at Stanford, and in Film Studies at Yale. She attended the Creative Writing Program of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where she was mentored by the Scottish poet George MacBeth.

Reader’s Annotation:

Nothing ever happens in the lazy, southern town of Gatlin…not until Macon Ravenwood’s niece comes to town. Lena and her family are Casters, and they are far different from anyone Ethan has ever known.

Genre:

Horror/ Dark Fantasy

Booktalking ideas:

Dress like a witch

Reading Level/Interest Age:

Grade 7 +

Challenge Issues:

Witchcraft. 

I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.

Reasons for inclusion:

The mistaken belief that if a book is made into a movie, it is probably a good book. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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