At least one of my students recommended Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I am always a little skeptical of fiction books written by multiple authors; in my experience they aren’t written as well. I think it’s just hard to mesh one person’s voice with another, and it ends up falling flat.
The topic was interesting. A sixteen-year-old Ethan keeps having these weird dreams that feature a girl he’s never seen. When that very girl moves to his small Southern town, he is inexplicably drawn to her, though everyone else in the town fears and shuns her because she is the niece of an old, eccentric hermit whom no one knows or trusts. It turns out this new girl, Lena, is a “Caster” (the politically correct term for “witch,” basically) and Ethan is drawn into her life and the drama that accompanies it.
But for me, the story did fall flat. You know how teachers always say to “show, don’t tell” when you’re writing? Well, it felt to me like Garcia and Stohl did a lot of telling and not much showing. Although the story is told from Ethan’s point of view, it didn’t feel like teenaged boy was really talking. It felt like two thirty-something women projecting what a teenaged boy might think, say, and notice, rather than allowing the character to come alive. Additionally, the authors tried to put a whole lot of story into this book, so they delved into high school drama, Ethan’s dead mother and reclusive father, his housekeeper/nanny and his best friend, the history of the town, the Civil War, the history of the Caster community, voodoo, high school formals, and a romantic relationship. It just felt like too much. Additionally, there were some things that I felt the authors told me over and over again. (Okay, I get it that the kids at the high school are superficial and don’t like Lena because she breaks all their unwritten codes of conduct.)
I see why my student liked it. There is romance and teenage drama and mystery and excitement. Probably a lot of other adolescents would like it too. But it wasn’t my thing.
So I went back to the library today and looked at the new YA books they have in, and I checked out these:
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
I’ll let you know how I like them.