Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beautiful Creatures - HBIC Editor Review - Parajunkee

H B I C R E V I E W  - by Parajunkee

Beautiful Creatures
Hardcover version, purchased from Border's (used my 30% off coupon!)
Beautiful Creatures Fansite | Book's Website

PJV's Quickie POV: Beautiful Creatures paints a captivating picture of young love and heart-break that had me engrossed from the beginning.  The tone is rich and wet and full of southern elegance.  While not the best YA novel I've read all year, it did live up to the hype.  Very much enjoyed this book and you definitely should mark this as a must read if you haven't already.

Review: Ethan Wate is stuck in a world that he desperately wants to be rid of. The world is Gaitlan, small-town, small-minded Gaitlan. Where he has been put in a box, a box where you have to date this sort of girl, you have to play this sort of sport and you have to think these sort of thoughts - or else.

Ethan can't wait to leave, he can't wait to break out of his little Gaitlan box and head to college, yet in the 2 years he has before college he knows he has to play the game - or else. That is of course, until a new girl comes to his small town and breaks down Ethan's little box with a bang.

Lena Duchannes does not fit in at all.  Everything about her screams different, but Ethan can't help himself, he is drawn to Lena and he believes the feeling is mutual. His classmates and what he thought were his friends do not feel the same way as Ethan.  Lena is different, Lena is weird, Lena is not right for Gaitlin. Ethan, doesn't care, he knows one thing - he belongs with Lena and he will give up everything and anything to belong to her. Just how much will he be asked to give up though???

The tone of the book is very rich and descriptive.  I have to say that was the best part of the book.  Descriptions were heavy and real.  The entire novel breathed southern depth, reading this book I could almost taste the humidity the tone was so well brought to life.  The love development was well-done, not one of the best I've read, but I could empathize with the emotional struggle.  Characters were wonderful, even the secondary characters had rich development that had me enjoying their plights.  The plot was compelling and original.  Some side plots were dropped but nothing that was so obvious.

My only dislikes about this novel was that it might have been a bit much at times.  When I read heavily descriptive novels sometimes I have to skim through the scenes, which I found myself doing in the middle of the novel, so some of that could have been left out and still maintained the integrity of the book. Some of the plot was also predictable, I had the "bad-guy" pegged early on.  I also found all the secrecy very frustrating, I mean why would they lie to Lena sooo much?

The stereo-typing in this novel was also very frustrating. The novel  oozed a message of closed-minded intolerance, but I think it was a testament to a reverse message of intolerance to small town southern conservatives.  I believe yes, small towns can be a little behind in forward thinking, but I don't believe that in general they are as intolerant as they were portrayed in this book.  The good guys were the liberal minded youth - the bad guys the religious conservatives, in life it is never that black and white.

Recommendations: I would pass this on to teens and adults.  The story has an innocence to it that is suitable for young teens, yet it has a depth that adults will enjoy.

I give it a 3/4 BWB rating.

1. All the lies and deceit that was occurring in the book to the teenagers seemed a bit much, right? Do we lie to our children to protect them, or brutal honesty? It seems like a reoccurring theme in Hollywood and literature, but is it a reoccurring them in real life? 

You hear about this all the time in books and movies.  The truth kept from them for their own good. This was one of the things that I was unsure about in this book.  **** Spoiler ***** If Lena had the ability to claim herself, why wouldn't they have told her, and prepared, set options up, etc. The truth is always better than lies, no matter how crazy the truth may be. I think some things might wait until a  certain age, but once the child's mind can process the information maturely, why keep the truth away?

2. Do you feel Lena and Ethan were too chaste, with only random kissing? With rampant teenage pregnancies and condoms being distributed in schools, do you feel these YA novels that stick to just kissing and no cursing aren't reality, or do you agree with their good show of morals?

I understand the reasoning of the authors of keeping the physical side of Lena and Ethan's relationship to a minimum - it would have introduced complications that weren't revealed until later in the book. Yet, does this make it a real portrayal of a teenagers relationship? To reveal my age, it has been 13 years since I have been in high school, but I seem to remember the dating scene.  And if the guy wasn't pressuring, I was thinking something was wrong with him, or he really didn't like me.  Not that I was allowing, but it was just the game. It was just that in high school if you weren't talking about sex, you were hinting about it, engaging in it, declaring that you were not engaging in it, or being preached to about it by adults. So, do I think the chaste kisses are real life, they could be, maybe I just ran in a racy crowd in high school.  Maybe going to an all girls high school lent us chicks to a little more promiscuity? Hey the later questions deal with stereo-types. I just remember a lot of girls that were in serious relationships were also exploring the sexual sides of those relationships, if not acting out on them, but at least discussing them with their partners of why or why not to engage. Which also brings us back to TRUTH.  So approaching sex and cursing in a YA book, my first reaction is NO! don't let the children read it.  But then, teenagers aren't children anymore, they are faced with these decisions every day - if we portray things as they are and walk the characters through the thought process of how they are making this decision, isn't that better than just not showing it at all and pretending it is not there??

3. Obviously the authors lean towards a very strong liberal political viewpoint...the story does a great job labeling conservatives as bible thumping, closed minded racists who burn that sense how do you feel about censorship and do you feel its fair to label all conservatives this way?

I might have to come out of the closet politically to answer this question. Oh my. Personally I'm used to conservatives being portrayed in this light. It doesn't mean that I like it though. Like all stereo-types there usually is some fact behind it, but does that make it right to perpetuate? While we have labeled racial stereo-typing as a faux pas, why isn't political stereo-typing also something to frown on, considering a lot of time, political lines tend to be blurred with the racial lines. Personally I think stereo-types perpetuate ignorance, especially in a world where people are on information overload and just skim, instead of dive. While the authors took the moral high ground on the sex issue, I think while they were preaching intolerance of liberal views, they actually were rather intolerant of the conservative view-point. And while there are idiots and racist on both party lines I really don't believe they are the majority. The next time you stereo-type think about mine, I am a artist by trade, graphic designer, one of the cars in my household is a Prius. My religious affiliation tends to be more spiritual instead of organized...can you guess my political frame of mind??

4. Southern, small town close-mindedness is a big feature of Beautiful Creatures, did you find the towns reaction to Lena something that could really happen, or a gross Southern, small-town stereo-type? 

For ten years I was a small-town infiltrator. From the big city (the one only 30 miles away) it didn't make a difference in grammar school, but my lack of accent did rear its head as I got older.  It was more like I was labeled snobby though, instead of out right demonized.  I think the stereo-types were a little too rampant in this book.  I enjoyed the book, and fiction is what it is - fiction. What didn't sit right with me is that it hit close to home.  I'm a very southern girl - and it gets kinda old being labeled a racist just because I was born on this side of the Mason-Dixon line.  I have been called a racist before by someone who thought they were better than me because they were from Connecticut. Books like this perpetuate stereo-types and like I said earlier, the funny thing is it preached intolerance, yet if you turned it around from a southern conservatives view point it was very intolerant itself.


Emily said...

Great review! Sadly I didn't get around to reading this one but I'll be back in the game for Soulless. I do have a copy of this book so I'll definitely read it at some point. Glad you enjoyed it!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Thanks for the honest review. I was really excited about it and started it but it didn't stick. From everything i've read I thought I would love it but maybe it was my mood. ?!