Book Review – Beautiful Creatures

I finally made it through Beautiful Creatures over the weekend. I knew it was going to be hot, so I decided to take a day-trip to the beach. I packed my beach bag with a few books since I was sure I’d finish Beautiful Creatures, and of course I’d need a new book to start. I thought I should wait a little to write a post about it because I wanted to make sure I had all my thoughts in line. Get ready.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate lives in the small Southern town of Gatlin. This is your stereotypical small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, and no one leaves. Ethan is anxious to get out after high school…but then Lena Duchannes comes to town and changes everything. Ethan realizes that Lena is the girl he has been dreaming about, and finds himself “drawn” to her. They develop a relationship despite the fact that Lena, the niece of the town recluse, is the outcast at Jackson High and everyone is set on tearing them apart. As they grow closer, Ethan realizes that Lena’s differences come from special powers. She is a Caster. Lena’s sixteenth birthday is approaching, which means she will be “claimed” – she will be chosen as a dark caster or a light caster for the rest of her life. Knowing that her mother was dark, Lena fears that she will be the same and is desperate to stop it. Ethan spends every possible moment helping Lena search for a way to save herself…until her birthday comes, and it may be too late.

As you may remember, I had been struggling through the book and was not a very big fan. At all. I wouldn’t say I hated it, but it was far from even being considered for a favorites list. It’s an “eh” book. Like I said previously, I’m not sure if my opinion was swayed by the reviews I read on goodreads, but it didn’t take much to figure out why so many reviews were negative.

One of the things that really bothered me was a lingering confusion over what exactly it means to be a Caster…how do they develop their “powers”? Are they similar to witches? What kinds of things can they do? These things were touched on, and there were different examples of Caster powers throughout, but I felt like there was never a very good explanation. I’m not saying Twilight was anything to rave about, but at least I understood the whole vampire/werewolf thing while I read the books! I felt like the authors of Beautiful Creatures just wanted to write a paranormal story, and made things up as they went along instead of thinking it out beforehand. (They do say in their acknowledgments that it took them three months to write the book, before going through editing. Gee, I would never have guessed…)

A second thing that I didn’t like was that there was no apparent basis for Ethan and Lena’s falling in love. There seemed to be no development of feelings over time, no getting to know each other. You know, those things we normal people go through in real life. In Beautiful Creatures, Lena and Ethan are “drawn” to each other because of a dream they keep having. And when they finally meet, Ethan’s world changes forever. Please. PLEASE! And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous lines. I wish I had kept count of how many times I rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh my God.” I couldn’t help but think as I read this, that a number of my students were reading these books, or had read them, and now have in their heads that this is what love is like…at sixteen years old. Hate to say it, but you don’t get an electric shock when you kiss someone unless you’re holding a fork in a socket at the same time.

Overall, the book wasn’t atrocious; I was curious to find out what would happen and how the story would end, which kept me reading. But I was by no means enraptured with this book, where I could NOT put it down. If a student is looking for a book to read and I know they like romance stories or fantasy/paranormal, I’ll recommend it but it won’t be with much enthusiasm. Should you read it yourself? Eh, if you feel like it. If you’re planning on watching the movie and are the type of person that likes to read the book first, go ahead. Or if you are thinking to yourself, “I have to see for myself what she’s talking about…”

Or just skip it and thank me. Okay, maybe I did hate this book. Can’t win ’em all.

http://thecasterchronicles.wikia.com/wiki/Beautiful_Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Source: http://thecasterchronicles.wikia.com/wiki/Beautiful_Creatures

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Book Review – Requiem

Requiem is the final book in the Delirium trilogy. If you haven’t read Delirium or Pandemoniumwhat are you waiting for?! But seriously, don’t read this post until you’ve finished both those books, unless you don’t mind spoilers.

This is completely unrelated, but I just noticed – Lena seems to be quite the trendy name, especially for YA novels. The Delirium trilogy stars a Lena; I’m reading Beautiful Creatures with Lena as a main character, and just read a review of City of Embers – with a Lena. Don’t you hate when a name becomes a fad?

Requiem focuses on the resistance and the buildup to a revolution against DFA and the government. Lena has made it back into the Wilds after a huge gamble to save Julian’s life in New York. What she didn’t expect for her return to the Wilds, was for Alex to join them (or to be alive at all). Suddenly Lena has to deal with feelings she thought had long been buried, while trying to hide it all from Julian, and watching Alex grow close with another girl.

As the resistance grows stronger, Lena and the others are threatened by Regulators, who have begun infiltrating the Wilds in order to suppress the Invalids. Constantly in motion, Lena’s group eventually find themselves at the center of the revolution – ready to attack Lena’s childhood home, Portland.

At the same time Lena’s best friend Hana is approaching her marriage to her selected match – Fred Hargrove, mayor of Portland. Hana seems to have the perfect life after her Cure. Perfect wedding, perfect husband, and perfect house; all will be hers. Of course, nothing is perfect, and beneath the surface, Hana’s life is far from it. While her story and Lena’s alternate throughout, it becomes clear that they will become intertwined somehow, and it is at this point that Hana must make a decision about her “perfect” life.

Requiem was a perfect end to the trilogy. Another wonderfully written book that used alternating chapters like Pandemonium; this time, the chapters alternated between Lena and Hana. When I got to Hana’s first chapter, I didn’t see the point and I thought to myself, “I really don’t care about Hana right now…what’s going on with Lena?” But just like Pandemonium, I felt myself getting drawn in with both stories, and constantly wanting to read one more chapter so that I could find out what happened with either character. What I loved about this whole trilogy, is the way little details throughout prove to be important later on (I guess the teacher in me would call it foreshadowing! 🙂 ). I think it’s safe to say that the Delirium trilogy is one of my favorite YA series. I know I will be recommending it to students, or asking which of them have read it so we can chat about it!

If you’re looking for a summer read (or three), these are your best bet! Have you read the series? What were your thoughts?

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Source: GoodReads

It’s Like Christmas!

Earlier this week I ordered a bunch of books from Barnes & Noble for my summer reading goal of Ya/Teen lit. They came today!

The Eleventh Plague and Switched weren’t in the order – I picked those up at Target today when I went for a completely different reason. Isn’t that how it always goes at Target?

I can’t wait to get through this stack….I don’t know where to start!

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What a beachy bedspread, huh? Thank you, ideeli.com!

Book Review – Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver Source: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com

If you haven’t read Delirium yet, wait to read this post. This is the sequel, and it’s impossible to write about it without spoilers.

Pandemonium picks up where Delirium left off. Lena has escaped Portland into the Wilds, and is trying to heal – physically and emotionally – and find her place among a group of “Invalids” who have taken her in. Eventually Lena is given an important role in the resistance; she is assigned to watch Julian Fineman, son of the president of the DFA (Delirium-Free America, a group whose purpose is to promote the Cure). This assignment takes Lena, as well as a number of her friends from the Wilds, into the middle of a DFA rally in Times Square. When an attack happens at the rally, Julian is taken into an old subway tunnel. Lena follows, and soon finds herself fighting for her life.

This book was written differently than Delirium, with each chapter alternating between “Then” and “Now” – Lena’s adjustment into the Wilds, and her role in the resistance. At first I wasn’t too fond of this layout, but as the story went on, I appreciated it much more, and I can’t imagine it written differently. I wasn’t as compelled to read the first few chapters as I had been in Delirium, maybe because of the alternating settings, but there came a point where I found myself thinking, “Ok, just read this next chapter so you can get back to ‘now’ to see what happens!”

I didn’t like this book better than Delirium, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, period. This was more of an adventure, and very action-packed compared to Delirium. Lena’s narration was perfect again. Lauren Oliver has a way of describing things and telling a story in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, but it’s exactly right; I feel like her writing is poetic but simple. This had another one of those cliffhanger endings, and I couldn’t resist a trip to Barnes and Noble the day after I finished, to get the third book. Which I just finished… 🙂

Overall, if you loved Delirium, it’s a good idea to read Pandemonium. And pick up Requiem while you’re at it, trust me.

Summer Reading

This will be a quick post – just wanted to share what I plan on reading this summer, and hopefully get some suggestions to add to my list!

Coming to the end of the school year, I decided I should read as many teen/YA books as I could over the summer so that next year I’d be able to give recommendations to students. Here’s what I came up with so far:

Delirium (ended up reading the trilogy; halfway done with the third book)
Beautiful Creatures
The Maze Runner
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Gone
The Selection
If I Lie
Reckless
Entwined
The Killing Sea
Perfect
Sarah Dessen novel

Have any good books to add? Let me know!