YA Book (and Movie) Review

Hello all! I hope you’re all enjoying your long weekend (and I hope you’ve all been reading Animal Farm!)

Mr. Woodall mentioned in passing last week that soon we are going to stop doing vocabulary and will instead spend class time doing D.E.A.R. instead. D.E.A.R. stands for Drop Everything And Read and that means you’ll have to pick your own fun reading book and start reading it for the first 20 minutes of class every day. This is a great opportunity to branch out, read something for fun and find a genre, series or author that you enjoy. I love reading books, especially young adult books, so I thought I’d offer some suggests on our blog for anyone who doesn’t know what book they might enjoy reading.

It seemed only fitting that my first recommendation be Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl because the movie version just came out (on Valentine’s Day actually) and I know how much you all love movie versions of books.

Beautiful Creatures is set in a small town in South Carolina, which was one of the things about the book that attracted me, since I live in the South. Beautiful Creatures fits into the Southern Gothic genre, which has unfortunately been waning recently. Southern Gothic novels and stories usually feature unusual or disturbing characters, sinister events, characters that display a prejudiced or close-minded set of ideals and sometimes feature supernatural occurrences. Image

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Ethan Wate, who is played by Alden Ehrenreich

Beautiful Creatures is told from the point of view of Ethan Wate, a high school junior who has lived in his small town his entire life. He stands out from the rest of his classmates because he longs to leave Gatlin behind and go to college in a big city like New York. He enjoys reading classic novels and hates the closed-mindedness of his classmates and fellow townspeople and really can’t stand the snobby girls he goes to school with. In the weeks leading up to his first day of school, he’s been having nightmares featuring a mysterious young woman and he can’t seem to get the image of her out of his head.

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Alice Englert plays Lena Duchannes

On Ethan’s first day of school, he learns about the new girl in Gatlin. Her name is Lena Duchannes and she’s the niece of the town’s creepiest resident. Her uncle, Macon Ravenwood, lives in an old plantation on the outskirts of town and hasn’t been seen for years. People believe that he’s a witch and because Lena is his niece, Ethan’s classmates consider her a witch and freak too. But Ethan can’t bring himself to stay away from her, because he’s pretty sure that she’s the girl that he’s been dreaming about.

As Ethan grows closer to Lena, he learns the truth about her family and some surprising information about his own family history. The novel features a colorful cast of characters including Macon’s mysterious dog, Ethan’s wise-cracking best friend, Ethan’s surrogate mother Amma who may know a little bit about magic herself and Lena’s sinister cousin who seems to cast some sort of spell over the boys in Gatlin. Ethan and Lena have to face more than just the disapproval of the townspeople because Lena has a family curse to combat, one that might be the death of Ethan.

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Lena keeps track of the days until her birthday (when her true nature will be decided) on her hand.

The film version of Beautiful Creatures takes the plot and characters introduced in the novel and puts a different spin on things. I won’t spoil too much about the book or the movie here but it’s definitely like seeing two different stories. I think that it’s always great to see the world you imagine in your head while reading a book come to life on the big screen and the actors portraying Lena and Ethan do a fantastic job of giving life to the two young protagonists. Lena’s Uncle Macon is played by Jeremy Irons, who does the voice of Scar from The Lion King, so you know that was a big selling point for me!

If you’re a fan of the Twilight novels or enjoyed Ally Codine’s Matched series or really enjoy reading young adult literature, than Beautiful Creatures is definitely for you. One of the great things about this novel for me was that it’s told from the point of view of the male protagonist, which you don’t see very often. Ethan is also a sweet and charming guy; he’s thoughtful, polite and loyal, which is a nice change from the rough bad-boy that girls seem to be swooning for in YA lit now-a-days. Lena is a complex character who feels alienated from the other kids her age, which is something I’m sure that everyone has felt at one time. Another thing I loved about this book was the friendship between Ethan and his best friend Link, who sticks beside his old friend even when Ethan becomes a social outcast because of his relationship with Lena. I think it’s always nice to see a realistic friendship in a book. Plus Beautiful Creatures is the first in a four-book series, so you won’t have to figure out what to read next when you finish this one. The second and third books (Beautiful Darkness and Beautiful Chaos) only get better and dig deeper into Lena’s family history. They even take a trip to Georgia in the second book!

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The cast of “Beautiful Creatures”

Link, Lena and Ethan decide to go to the movies on a Friday night

Link, Lena and Ethan decide to go to the movies on a Friday night

When it comes time to pick a book for D.E.A.R. I highly suggest you look at Beautiful Creatures. It might seem long and intimidating, but I promise that once you start reading, the pages will just fly by. Plus, when you finish, you can check out the movie!

Check out the trailer for Beautiful Creatures if my amazing review hasn’t sold you!

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About japace9

I am an English education major at Kennesaw State University and love reading, writing and watching movies. My favorite books include "The Lovely Bones," "Atonement," "Looking for Alaska," and "The Wives of Bath" and my favorite movies are "The Lion King," "Moulin Rouge!" and "Almost Famous."
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