You’d think I’d get tired of reading Twilight

Considering how much I complained about it, and all. And yet, I always get kind of excited when I can review a book based on my 13 Signs the Book You’re Reading Might be Twilight. I wrote the list exclusively for my review of Firelight, but reading over it again it still holds pretty true for Beautiful Creatures.

by Kami Gracia and Margaret Stohl

That’s right, it took TWICE the authors so this is 563 pages of TWICE the Twilight action.

Here is the deal:

Ethan hates his small Southern town, until beautiful and mysterious and captivating and amazing Lena shows up, niece to Macon Ravenwood, town recluse. All the popular girls hate her. Ethan is madly in love. Then, after a series of supposedly dramatic encounters and confusing events, she confesses that she is from an ancient family of Casters, meaning she has magical powers. But oh no! Her family is also cursed to be Claimed by either Light or Dark magic on their sixteenth birthday and they don’t get to choose and YOU SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM ME, ETHAN, I’ll just end up hurting you. Most of the book is spent ineffectually trying to find a way to save her from possibly “going dark” while the surrounding adults are all “Stay away from each other!” Also, they are possibly reincarnated from their ancestors, a Confederate deserter and a high-class Southern Caster lady.

Thirteen Signs that the Book you are reading is, in fact, Twilight
1. Secret Mythical Creature: Check, Lena and her family are Casters, each with various magical powers, like one of them can heal and another can see different times. Except Lena is something called a “Natural”, which means she has ALL POWERS. Also, her uncle is an incubus!
2. Secret Mythical Creature Kind of Lamer than usual and given weird sparkly attributes: Yeah, the incubus just eats dreams. Lame. Also, Lena’s powers mostly manifest as the weather matching her emotions.
3. Love at first sight: One-upped! Before Lena even moves in, Ethan starts having dreams about her. On page five, he literally describes it as “love before first sight”
4. Star-crossed lovers: A Caster and a Mortal? SCANDAL! Also, one-upped by implying their ancestors were ALSO star-crossed lovers.
5. Over-described hot guy: One-upped! Since this book is from Ethan’s point of view, it’s an over-described hot GIRL. At first I was unsure if the male perspective would appeal to teen girls, BUT then I realized it’s perfect, because it allows him to talk pretty much constantly about how beautiful and mysterious and unique she is, which would seem kind of arrogant and weird if she was the narrator. Bonus points for her being “not like the other girls” and for no one being able to REALIZE her beauty but him. Of course middle school Patricia would have been all over that.
6. Guy who is “too dangerous” and tells girl to stay away from him repeatedly: Like #5, this is now gender reversed. Even though from the time they meet they inexplicably have telepathic powers with each other, Lena is constantly saying things like “Stay away from me before I hurt you!”, a sentiment echoed by her uncle, Ethan’s housekeeper/mom surrogate, and everyone else in town.
7. Weird Culty Family: Yep. Lena’s whole family are casters–some light and some dark–complete with weird holidays, traditions, and private library under the town. Plus there’s that whole curse thing, caused by Lena’s previous incarnation/ancestor. Also, they don’t find out their real names until after they turn 16. They sort of forgot this at the end, since Lena never gets renamed?
8. Obligatory Human Friend the Protagonist Uses But Mostly Ignores: His nickname is “Link” and he kind of sticks by Ethan even when the whole town/school is all “Why are you dating that non-blonde freak?” He gets slightly more face time in the book than your typical non-magic friend, mostly because Lena’s dark cousin uses him to get to Ethan/Lena, for MONTHS. Ethan knows about it, but does nothing besides once saying something like, “She’s bad news… or whatever.”
9. Having to hold yourself back while making out for fear that Morality will manifest as real life danger: Ethan constantly feels electric shocks while they kiss, and one time has like a mini heart attack. It turns out, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for Casters and Mortals to be together physically because the Mortal would die of like MAGIC OVERDOSE or something. They find out from Lena’s Super Evil Dark Caster mom at the end, a fact which is never really resolved and I assume is what the sequel is all about.
10. Everything that looks like action turns out to be boring: There’s a confrontation at the end that’s okay, but it still seems kind of “eh” maybe because I had to slog through 500 pages to get to it. Most of the book milks the dynamic of “I’m madly in love with you/but I CAN’T be with you”.
11. No Plot until the last 50 pages: I’m pretty sure the authors thought this book was like made of suspense. Unfortunately, the “mystery” aspects were either easy to figure out, impossible to figure out, or kind of irrelevant. Sure, there was tension before the last 50 pages, mostly in that you don’t know what will happen on Lena’s birthday, but you are so bashed over the head with it, that I really stopped caring.
12. Controlling, abusive relationships: I wouldn’t say their relationship is controlling or abusive, so points for that. I would say it’s weirdly co-dependent. Given the whole telepathy thing, they are thinking each other’s thoughts most of the time, and Ethan pretty much thinks/talks about NOTHING except Lena and how mysteriously beautiful she is the entire 563 pages.
13. Writing style: 7th grade fanfiction: I actually had few problems with the actual style and sentence construction that I usually find with Twilight and its copycats.

Twilight score: 10/13

Another aspect of this book that I’m not sure how I feel about, is that it’s set in a small Southern town and the authors feel a desperate need to Explain The South to you pretty much every chapter. It was weird for me reading it, since I already understand the South, thanks, so I always felt like the book must be pretty much written for people who live in New England or California. And it will pretty much only reinforce their stereotypes about the South, something I find kind of sad. I much prefer how The Splendor Falls handled this. Also set in a small Southern town, it had some characters acting like stereotypes some of the time, not every one all the time. Then again, that novel also had well-rounded, well-developed characters in general, as opposed to cardboard cut outs of TEENS IN LOVE+DISAPPROVING ADULTS+IGNORANT SOUTHERN HICKS so I don’t know why I’m surprised.

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