Friday, November 12, 2010

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Lena was supposed to claim herself for Dark or Light on her 16th birthday, but she didn't. Now the moons have been thrown off course. Lena seems to be drifting away from Ethan, her mortal boyfriend. Ethan thinks it's because Lena is mourning her Uncle Macon's death, but it might be something more. Could Lena be going Dark? Ethan refuses to accept that the girl he loves might be leaving him forever. He will do everything he can to save her.

My first problem was I hadn't read Beautiful Creatures, the first in the series, so I spent a good part of this book confused since I had no background and I didn't know what had happened at Lena's 16th birthday and the history of the Casters (although I got plenty of that over the course of the book). This is not a series that is easy to read out of order. Definitely start with the first one.

My second problem was a similar problem I had when I read Inkheart. Inkheart was a long book, as is Beautiful Creatures. They were so long, so why did it feel like nothing was happening? We're all just going around in circles, slowly, oh so slowly working up to some kind of action. It dragged. Ethan and company don't go out search for Lena until almost 400 pages in. And it takes like 300 pages for Lena to take off. After she and Ethan have had the same confrontation like six times with Lena pushing him away and Ethan not knowing what to do. Now, maybe this is what would actually happen in real life, but it wasn't working for me in book form. There was way too much build-up to the action, which I then found unsatisfying and confusing.

The climax, where they've just crossed over a magical barrier and now have to fight the evil super power Dark Casters and Blood Incubuses, it's four mortal kids against all this evil magic. They have no plan and yet they're just ready to barreling in. And then luckily for them, suddenly all these other magical creatures show up at that very moment to save them, having had no help along the way. I wasn't buying it. Despite the length, there hadn't been enough character development to truly believe we were dealing with Lord of the Ring friendships here.

You know what I mean when I say Lord of the Ring friendships, right? The kind of friendship and love you have for someone where they can say, "Hey. I have to take a journey to hell to throw a ring in a hole. I'm probably going to die. Will you come with me and keep me company?" And the other person says, "Yes, yes I will go with you, fully knowing I'm probably going to die too, because I love you and you are my friend." It's the Frodo-Sam friendship, and it's beautiful when done well.

Anyway, we had these kids walking into hell, fully assuming they were going to die trying to save Lena, and I just couldn't figure out why. The relationships weren't strong enough for me to believe it. And so it all just seemed off.

I'm sure it would have helped if I'd read the first one, no doubt. But even then, I don't know if I would have felt differently about the pacing.

That being said, your kids who like supernatural romances and have gone through Twilight and Shiver and Halo and all the rest will very much like this one too.

Beautiful Darkness came out on October 12th.

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