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Beautiful Creatures Hardcover – December 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ethan Wate is struggling to hide his apathy for his high school "in" crowd in small town Gatlin, South Carolina, until he meets the determinedly "out" Lena Duchannes, the girl of his dreams (literally--she has been in his nightmares for months). What follows is a smart, modern fantasy--a tale of star-crossed lovers and a dark, dangerous secret. Beautiful Creatures is a delicious southern Gothic that charms you from the first page, drawing you into a dark world of magic and mystery until you emerge gasping and blinking, wondering what happened to the last few hours (and how many more you're willing to give up). To tell too much of the plot would spoil the thrill of discovery, and believe me, you will want to uncover the secrets of this richly imagined dark fantasy on your own. --Daphne Durham

Amazon Exclusive Interview with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Authors of Beautiful Creatures

What does your writing process look like? Is it tough to write a book together? Did you ever have any knock-down drag-out fights over a plot point or character trait?

Margie: The best way to describe our writing process is like a running stitch. We don't write separate chapters, or characters. We pass the draft back and forth constantly, and we actually write over each other's work, until we get to the point where we truly don't know who has written what.

Kami: By the end of the book, we don't even know. The classic example is when I said, "Marg, I really hate that line. It has to go." And she said, "Cut it. You wrote it."

Margie: I think we were friends for so long before we were writing partners that there was an unusual amount of trust from the start.

Kami: It's about respect. And it helps that we can't remember when who wrote the bad line.

Margie: We save our big fights for the important things, like the lack of ice in my house or how cold our office is. And why none of my YouTube videos are as popular as the one of Kami's three-fingered typing…okay, that one is understandable, given the page count for "Beautiful Creatures."

Kami: What can I say? I was saving the other seven fingers for the sequel.

What kinds of books do you like to read?

Kami: I read almost exclusively Young Adult fiction, with some Middle Grade fiction thrown in for good measure. As a Reading Specialist, I work with children and teens in grades K-12, so basically I read what they read.

Margie: When I write it comes from the same place as when I read: wanting to hang out with fictional characters in fictional worlds. I identify more as a reader than a writer; I just have to write it first so I can read it.

What books/authors have inspired you?

Kami: "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories" by Flannery O'Connor, "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury and "The Witching Hour" by Anne Rice. I also love Pablo Neruda.

Margie: I think Harper Lee is the greatest writer alive today. Eudora Welty is my other Southern writer kindred; I was obsessed with her in grad school. Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones made me love fantasy, and my favorite poets are Emily Dickinson (at Amherst College, I even lived on her street) and Stevie Smith.

Did you set out to write fiction for young adults? Why?

Kami: We actually wrote "Beautiful Creatures" on a dare from some of the teen readers in our lives.

Margie: Not so much readers as bosses.

Kami: Looking back, we wrote it sort of like the serialized fiction of Charles Dickens, turning in pages to our teen readers every week.

Margie: And by week she means day.

Kami: When we were getting texts in the middle of the night from teens demanding more pages, we knew we had to finish.

Margie: As it says in our acknowledgements, their asking what happened next changed what happened next. Teens are so authentic. That's probably why we love YA. Even when it's fantasy, it's the emotional truth.

A lot of us voracious readers like to cast a book after reading it. Did you guys have a shared view of who your characters are? Did each of you take a different character to develop, or did you share every aspect?

Kami: We've never cast our characters, but we definitely know what they look like. Sometimes we see actors in magazines and say, "Lena just wore that!"

Margie: We create all our characters together, but after a point they became as real as any of the other people we know. We forget they're not.

Kami: I never thought of it like that. I guess we do spend all our time talking about imaginary people. Margie: So long as it's not to them…

Did you always plan to start the book with Ethan's story? Why?

Kami: We knew before we started that we wanted to write from a boy's point of view. Margie and I both have brothers—-six, between us-—so it wasn't a stretch. It's an interesting experience to fall in love with the guy telling the story rather than the guy the story is about.

Margie: We do kind of love Ethan, so we wanted there to be more to him than just the boy from boy meets girl.

Kami: He's the guy who stands by you at all costs and accepts you for who you are, even if you aren't quite sure who that is.

What is on your nightstand now?

Kami: I have a huge stack, but here are ones at the top: "Mama Dip's Kitchen," a cookbook by Mildred Council, "The Demon's Lexicon" by Sarah Rees Brennan, "Shadowed Summer" by Saundra Mitchell, "Rampant" by Diana Peterfreund, and an Advanced Reader Copy of "Sisters Red" by Jackson Pearce.

Margie: I have Robin McKinley's "Beauty," Maggie Stiefvater's "Ballad," Kristen Cashore's "Fire," Libba Bray's "Going Bovine," and "Everything Is Fine" by AnnDee Ellis. And now I'm mad because I know a) Kami stole my "Rampant" and b) didn't tell me she has "Sisters Red"!

What is your idea of comfort reading?

Kami: If given the choice, I'll always reach for a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy. I also re-read my favorite books over and over.

Margie: It's all comfort reading to me. I sleep with books in my bed. Like a dog, only without the shedding and the smelling.

Have you written the next book already? What's next for Lena and Ethan?

Margie: We are revising the next book now. I don't want to give too much away, but summer in Gatlin isn't always a vacation.

Kami: I would describe book two as intense and emotional. For Ethan and Lena, the stakes are even higher.

Margie: That's true. Book two involves true love, broken hearts, the Seventeenth Moon, and cream-of-grief casseroles…

Kami: Gatlin at it's finest!

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Ethan Wate, a high school sophomore, plans to escape his small Southern town as soon as he can. Life has been difficult since his mother died; his father, a writer, has withdrawn into his study. Then Lena Duchannes arrives, and this strange new girl is the very one who has been occupying his dreams. She and her kin are Casters, beings who have supernatural powers. Getting to know her exposes Ethan to time travel, mortal danger, and love. The teens can hardly bear to be apart, but Lena's 16th birthday, when she will be Claimed for dark or light, is only 6 months away. To save her, they fight supernatural powers and the prejudice of closed-minded people. Yet, good and evil are not clearly delineated, nor are they necessarily at odds. In the Gothic tradition of Anne Rice, the authors evoke a dark, supernatural world in a seemingly simple town obsessed with Civil War reenactments and deeply loyal to its Confederate past. The intensity of Ethan and Lena's need to be together is palpable, the detailed descriptions create a vivid, authentic world, and the allure of this story is the power of love. The satisfying conclusion is sure to lead directly into a sequel. Give this to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight (Little, Brown, 2005) or HBO's "True Blood" series and they will devour all 600-plus pages of this teen Gothic romance.—Amy J. Chow, The Brearley School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Series: Beautiful Creatures (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 563 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316042676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316042673
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,097 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1,310 of 1,360 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on November 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I liked this book. It was interesting, the paranormal aspects were fairly unique, and I love a story with a long family history like this one has.

But I just liked it. It never grabbed me by the throat and demanded that I keep reading. I think, mostly, this was because the pacing was off. There was too much time during the story when I was relaxed and not worried about whether the characters were going to get out of trouble. Sure, there were intense moments when I was glued to the pages, but then things slowed down too much and I was lulled into a strange sense of security. This made it too easy to set the book down.

The characters weren't as developed as I wanted them to be, either. Ethan's voice felt too feminine to me. Actually, when I first started reading, I thought the story was from Lena's perspective, just based on the voice. Then, after I adjusted to Ethan's voice, he didn't feel real to me. His entire character felt cliche, like the teenage girl's ideal boyfriend, not what boys are actually like (I think another reviewer said this, and I couldn't agree more).

Then there was the setting. It didn't *feel* like the south. To me, the story could have taken place in any rural situation. We didn't get a sense of southern culture, which is so unique and could have had an amazing impact on the story. A really good example of southern setting, by the way, is Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell. Great book. But I digress...

Beautiful Creatures is a good story. I think it could have been great if it had been shorter, which would have increased the tension and kept the reader glued to the pages through the whole story. Or, at least, if it had a bit more depth to it with the characters and setting.
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447 of 523 people found the following review helpful By Dragon Quill on September 30, 2009
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I have never really liked romance plots, and most of the time I despise YA romance. I don't think I will ever much like either, and my track record will most likely show cynical remarks for everything from the movie Titanic to Twilight to Pride and Prejudice and especially Romeo and Juliet. But Beautiful Creatures is an anomaly on that review record. Because I didn't just enjoy Beautiful Creatures. I loved it. And not just because there's magic in it.

First I loved the return to 1990's modern fantasy! For anyone who doesn't know what that amounts to: witches. Not ones with a special, hidden school (under no circumstances, however, am I complaining about Harry Potter) but the ones who hide in plain sight. Sabrina the Teen Age Witch. Disney Channel's Halloween movies. TNT's Charmed. Casper the Ghost. Having grown up with books and TV shows such as those, the return to witches and curses and dark charmed objects is more than welcome. But even if you won't be on the nostalgia train with me, the witch element should be welcome to anyone even remotely tired of faeries/fairies, angels, demons, werewolves, and (dare I say it?) vampires.

Second I loved the incorporation of 90s fantasy with 21st century style--something I'm sure fans of the current YA will enjoy. What I mean is a first person story that moves quickly. This novel moves quick, sucking the reader right along. Yet, even when incorporating the 21st century style, Beautiful Creatures still manages to be different: it's first person, through the guy's POV. Kinda neat.

The third thing I loved is the length of this novel. Most YA these days is rushed, even if it is long, and it doesn't seem properly developed. Rushed, in musical terms, like things were cut out.
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219 of 274 people found the following review helpful By Heather VINE VOICE on February 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It has taken me a small eternity to write this review. I was down a hand for I had to use my left index finger to clamp down on my left eyelid in order to stop the twitching that began around page 65 of Beautiful Creatures. Meet the culprit. "As I lay down, she sat up, I sat up, she laid down, I laid down. Awkward." Hell, now the right one is doing it.

To quote Hawkeye, from the 1991 movie version of Last of the Mohicans, Beautiful Creatures is "a breed apart and makes no sense" therefore making it nearly impossible to describe. It's a contradictory mess and filled with 600 pages of driveling, hyperbole, that attempts, and yet fails miserably, at being cerebral. I'll take it from the top.

Ethan. Who knew that 16 year old boys had so much in common with my great grandmother? Big granny could tell you everything there was to know about Southern style architecture, felt the world would end if she ran a few minutes late, and loved Gone With the Wind. Coincidentally, she and Ethan could have been soul mates. Even more amazing, Ethan is popular. Had he gone to my school (which was in a small southern town I might add) he would have been beat, both before and after school, and mocked mercilessly during class.

Lena. Can't really say anything about her, she is that flat and dull.

Amma. She must have fallen out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. She would dominate at a staring contest, could probably teach me a thing or two about setting the eye on someone, and if I ever needed to intimidate a guy by sharpening my pencil, she'd be the first person I would call. But as a character, she sucked arse.

Plot. Can't say much about it as there isn't one.
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