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Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures) Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—This engrossing must-have sequel to Beautiful Creatures (Little, Brown, 2009) immediately returns to Gatlin, SC, and the seemingly impossible relationship between Caster girl Lena Duchannes, as yet un-Claimed for Light or Dark, and Ethan Wate, her beloved Mortal. Grieving the recent loss of Uncle Macon and worried that her 17th Moon and family curse will destroy everyone else she loves, Lena pulls away from Ethan and runs off to the Great Barrier with Siren cousin Ridley and mysterious John Breed. But is she headed for nirvana or danger? Plagued by strange visions and accompanied by his loyal friend Link and Keeper-in-Training Liv, Ethan travels the Caster Tunnels running beneath the world determined to save Lena. Along the way he faces shocking revelations about his family and gets help from several unexpected sources—developments that will further enamor readers. Familiar and favorite characters behave just as remembered, and sometimes even better. New additions, especially clever Liv, enhance the series and its plot, which is a cycle of hope, despair, and possibility. Like her Book of Moons, it gives and takes with equal measure in a great storytelling balance. Mortal and Castor settings aboveground and below reinforce the novel's Southern and gothic tone. Past and present are navigated successfully, offering new information while creating more questions. With allusions to a bigger game afoot and a classic good vs. evil climax that leaves several loose ends (unique, dangerous, and entertaining), this volume will leave readers clamoring for the next installment.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ
(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The anticipated sequel to Beautiful Creatures (2009) picks up where the first book left off. After revealing some of the twists in their tangled relationship, Ethan and his otherworldly Caster girlfriend, Lena, must further delve into her fate. Will she be claimed by the Light or the Darkness? And what can Ethan do to help save her as her journey intensifies? The southern gothic atmosphere, several new characters, and the surprising fate of one old favorite will keep readers going until the next book, which promises new surprises as “18 moons” approaches. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper
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It is what it has been, over the top teenage angst. However,this book gives more depth to the the adult and senior citizen set of the strange little town. People are not always what they appear to be. And the other worldly Casters and their very strange family tree branch off in new directions.
The book dragged at times, but over all it was a decent sophomore effort. And the kids have just finished their sophomore year. At the end of the book, they are anticipating their junior year. So will begin Book three I presume.
Unlike the first installment, Beautiful Creatures, this book had a few elements that did make it feel of lesser quality. None of those things are really so extraordinary that it would ruin my Caster Chronicles experience, however. These aspects did make me question as to whether or not the authors may have been hasty with the creation of it. But before I get into the icky stuff, let’s check out the portions of the book that I loved!
The dominant theme from beginning to end is simple yet beautifully complex: grief. Now, before I explain the importance of such a foundation, I should warn you that there will be non-plot-ruining-story-hints ahead. I won’t spoil anything, but what I will discuss might imply what is to come, just in case if you haven’t read the first book (or any book in the series, really). With my disclaimer…disclaimed, let’s move onwards. Our female protagonist experiences one of the most profound and excruciating emotions that anyone could ever undergo, which is the grief that comes along when you lose someone, or even something, very near and dear to your heart. Whether it’s a loss that stems from death, or just two people going separate ways, there are stages that we experience along the path of mourning. This path was illustrated quite adeptly in Beautiful Darkness and ends up being the focal point of unfolding events.
Anger. Guilt. Sadness. Disoriented within your own life. Trying to answer the horrid question of “why.” These are all of the facets that people endure when dealing with loss, plus many more. Our authors captured that brilliantly as Lena finds herself feeling wholeheartedly confused with splashes of self-loathing and rage. Her sadness infused with her abject affections for Ethan, create a catalyst of fear and loneliness that is agonizingly relatable for anyone who has ever felt the knife of loss. Spiraling down a very dark path, she tries to match her actions to the storm brewing inside of her, which is far from pretty. Garcia and Stohl do an exquisite job of showing the reader what it’s like to fall into a pit like that. The lengths that humans go to just to stop hurting, even if it’s only for a fraction of a second. I have lost people who meant the world to me, I’m still trying to recover from one of them. It’s not an easy task, at all. The deeper I dove into Beautiful Darkness, the more realistic the characters became for me. I could picture myself in Lena’s position, making the same choices, running from the same mental and emotional demons. Not a lot of writers can capture the essence of that kind of pain. I’m glad that Garcia and Stohl did.
Character growth in this book wasn’t extreme. While the obstacles that the cast members end up facing do change them in numerous ways, I felt that this change (for some, not all) was decidedly limited. I find this to be a good thing because there are still two installments left within the series. While I want to see these people transition and shape up into something grand based off their experiences (whether it’s evil or good), I don’t want to see it happen too quickly. The balance of growth felt just right. It may even have been a bit underplayed, but I’ll take that in lieu of overdoing it any day.
Now, let’s take a look at the components that I did not particularly enjoy. I’m going to start with the dialogue. Drawn out and terribly clichéd would be a fantastic way to describe the thoughts that came to mind while reading some of the interactions. I find it really peculiar because it only seemed to occur when particular people were talking, such as Link and Ridley, or a couple of villainous persons (of whom I can’t name without spoiling, sorry). There was no originality in the way they bickered back and forth. To be perfectly blunt, it felt like an atrociously dimwitted teenage film. Beautiful Creatures didn’t have this issue, so I don’t understand why it popped up in Beautiful Darkness. I’m severely hoping not to encounter this in the last two volumes, or my interest will wane rather quickly.
Unnecessary appearances also seemed to be a running familiar in the novel. There is one villain from the previous book that makes an appearance in this one, but their arrival was abrupt and their departure disappointingly anti-climactic. I was expecting so much more and got so little that I don’t even understand why they were brought back to begin with. This happens quite a lot with the character named Link as well. He plays a part in the story, but it felt so lacking and gratuitous. Chiming in with a phrase here or there, mostly for comic-relief (at least that was the effect given), that I wished they would have left him out as well. The finale of the book made me understand why he was given screen time, but again, I think it could either have been written much better or just not included.
The continuation of the story from book one was pretty decent. The dangling loose ends from Beautiful Creatures is adequately addressed in Beautiful Darkness, yet with the quality of the overall writing taking such a dip, I feel hesitant to read the last two books of the series. The characters are growing on me. I want to watch them blossom (or break), but there is a newfound fear of it happening with poorer taste. Nonetheless, book two of The Caster Chronicles stays very true to its name and remains really dark from beginning to end. The pace is slow at the start, but when it picks up you can find yourself getting carried away with all of the craziness that occurs. It was a very good reading experience, even with the hiccups; three and a half lollipops outta five.
I personally really enjoyed this book. I got hooked on this series about midway through the first book, Beautiful Creatures. I personally feel that Beautiful Darkness was way better and more understandable than Beautiful Creatures was. Maybe that's because of all the explaining in Beautiful Creatures though. This book had a lot of dramatic turns and twists that I never saw coming. I personally loved that. It literally kept me on edge until the very end of the book.
There are a few things I don't like about the book. I personally feel that they passed over a few things that they should of explained better. Also the afterward is in somebody elses' point of view when it's been in Ethan's from the very beginning. That kind of threw me off a bit, and made me wonder if there's a reason behind that. I still think that this series should have been told in both Lena and Ethan's point of view. I think it would have been more dramatic and page turning. That's just my opinion though. I also don't like how Ethan is constantly talking about blue ceilings and carpenter bees. It's funny the first time, but then it just gets really redundant.
I would recommend this book series to any person who is into books about magical people. Especially those types that involve drama and suspense. It's really targeted at a young adult audience, but I think just about anybody would enjoy reading it. However, I do not recommend reading this book until you read Beautiful Creatures. You will not understand what's going on unless you read the first book.