Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
London, Penguin, 2013, 563p
It is not often that I am unable (or was I unwilling?) to finish a book; but, though I tried, I can not read any more of this novel.
Beautiful Creatures has been hailed as the new Twilight, but I didn't want to be put off by that. I wanted to see what all this supernatural fiction was about - everyone seems to adore it. I couldn't stomach Stephanie Meyer, but, attempting to ignore the comparisons, I attempted Beautiful Creatures.
It is the story of Ethan, a boy from the south of the United States, who meets the girl who has been haunting his dreams, Lena. She is ostracised at school and throughout town; but Ethan thinks there is more to her, and is determined to understand why he feels so drawn to her. As the novel unfolds, it would appear that she is a caster, which is Garcia and Stohl's attempt at distancing themselves from previous witch stories. On her sixteenth birthday, Lena will either be taken by the darkness or the light - it is her curse.
Of the hundred or so pages I read, I found myself unsure if this book has even been edited. The descriptions are short and unimaginative, the dialogue is stunted. The pages are littered with lazy cliches and unrealistic events. When Ethan ran out of school, chasing Lena to comfort her, risking joining her in being a victim of school mockery, I wasn't convinced.
I was unsure of the male narrative voice. The story is told from the view of Ethan, and my feminist self automatically went on high alert, as Lena instantly became defined by his male gaze. This, I found to be unusual, since the authors are female. But neither of the characters were very well developed, neither gained my sympathy.
I hate being unable to finish a book. In many slow-starters, the plot or characters eventually develop enough to deserve my attention. But there is so much juicy literature out there, I do not want to waste any of my precious time.