(Cover picture courtesy of The Caster Chronicles Wiki.)
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
You know what the funny thing is about this book? While it was absolutely dreadful I could not and still cannot muster up the effort of actively loathing it. It’s not even worth the effort.
My number one problem with the book is the writing itself. I had a very hard time believing that this was written in the point of view of a teenager boy because honestly, these two authors had no clue how to write male points of view. Throughout the whole novel while Ethan and Lena are kissing behind lockers, going out driving, etc. Ethan never once thinks of taking things to the next level. Are you kidding? As much as I hate to stereotype, we’re talking about a teenage boy here. Do any (straight) teenage boys you know wax eloquently on the styles of dresses girls wear without even a hint of lust? Ethan was just a conduit for the two female authors to write the story. The real story was supposed to be about Lena.
Unfortunately if you totally ignore Ethan, Lena really isn’t all that interesting. I mean, she acts scared about going Dark and says she’s scared but I just never really connected to her through that fear. I didn’t really feel any of her emotions. She was just an idealized girl-next-door like pretty much every other YA love interest/lead. There was nothing really special about her, even when she made her supposedly ground-breaking choice on the night of her sixteenth birthday.
Can we also talk about the cliché overload? I’m from a small town that’s pretty much the epitome of the small town Hell stereotype and yet I found the portrayal of Gatlin disgusting. Ethan thinks he’s above everyone in the town, even going so far as to say he doesn’t speak with a traditionally Southern accent because his parents were educated. I don’t care how educated you are, if you live in a region your whole life you’re going to pick up some sort of accent. The behaviour of the townspeople is absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable. I know what small towns are really like and although they can be incredibly, ridiculously vicious toward any outsiders, I highly doubt that even with the help of evil the events in Beautiful Creatures would not happen in this day and age. Possibly 50-100 years ago, but not now.
The only thing even remotely interesting throughout the novel were all of the magical elements, even though they were not clearly explained. I like the idea of Casters being able to choose to go Light or Dark at their sixteenth birthday. I don’t like how poorly the curse on Lena’s family was explained because I still am not totally clear on why they are not able to choose hundreds of years after the event. Kind of vindictive spirits, don’t you think? Although the idea was somewhat unique, not much could salvage Beautiful Creatures.
For all my criticisms, I still can’t honestly say that I hate this book. It was poorly written, badly paced and the characters were all Mary Sues but it was so boring that I had to really struggle with myself just to finish it. I couldn’t even ‘hate-read’ it (to use the trendy term). I just really don’t care about this book and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
I give this book 0.5/5 stars.