Friday, August 17, 2012

Audio Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Narrator: Kevin T Collins
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: 12/01/2009
ISBN: 1600248462

I know, I know... I'm jumping on the Beautiful Creatures bandwagon a little late, but with the movie adaptation's release looming ever closer I really wanted to get a look at this now before the hype really started up.

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. 

I started with the print edition of the book, but quickly moved to the audio version after a few pages. Why? Because this was just so slow moving that I was having problems staying interested enough to keep going. I like the basic story of the book as well as the characters and the setting. The number one problem with this novel is that the pacing isn't very good. You have parts of the book that just tend to sag under its own weight because it's so drawn out that you just kind of get irritated and want it to get on with whatever it's going to do. I couldn't help but feel that the book could've been edited down by at least a good 60-100 pages to make this progress a little faster. It's not quite water treading along the lines of Anita Blake, but it just felt slightly unnecessary at times. This was still visible with the audio edition, but the excellent narration made up for it at times.

Speaking of the narration, Collins does an excellent job capturing the Southern drawl of the various characters. From Macon's luxurious drawl to Ethan's "down home" twang, I was captivated by how Collins read the book. I also liked that he didn't give into the temptation to twang up Lena, as I sort of felt that a girl that's travelled all over wouldn't really have a strong Southern accent.

Plot and character-wise, our authors did well. Our main characters are likable enough and I enjoyed the meanness of the townies that were out to get Lena for being a weird outsider. What really steals the show, however, are the side characters. They're fantastic. Sure, you could argue that mean girls Savannah and Emily are one note at this point in time, but they're also entertaining. The character of Macon Ravenwood also steals every scene he's in, and I have to say that during most of this book I was shipping him and the Gatlin librarian Marion, my two most favorite characters of the novel.

Overall this wasn't a bad read. It's just incredibly slow to get into, with much of the action and "OMG KEEP READING" scenes coming more in spurts between periods where not much really happens. I was warned of this ahead of time so I was prepared, but I still want to caution readers that if they're the type of get bored with slow moving books, they'll either want to wait for the movie or pick up the audiobook via their local library. (I checked mine out through the local library's OverDrive system for free, with no fear of late fines.)

3 out of 5 stars

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