badness

Beautiful Creatures is a terrible, terrible book

I noticed a movie about magic people called Beautiful Creatures is coming out, and I figured Ballerina Friend would like to go see it, and may have already read the book.  I thought it would be fun to read it and chat about it with her later, a sort of impromptu book club for two.  Unfortunately, Beautiful Creatures is a terrible, terrible book.

I wrote a review on amazon.com (see below).  I hated this book, but the part of me that hates things is smushed up against my sense of humor, so my vitriolic review had to be peppered with some comedy:

Beautiful Creatures makes Twilight look like Gone with the Wind.  It’s hundreds of pages worth of unfounded teen angst.  If I hadn’t read it on my Kindle, I would use it for toilet paper.

 

god it must be hard being the 'beautiful loner'

god it must be hard being the ‘beautiful loner’

The author attempts to end every chapter with a cliffhanger, and ends up using a small variety of the same one every time: “We were running out of time.”  The teenage boy who narrates the story is apparently so unfamiliar with (and horrified by) the linear progression of time, than he cannot BELIEVE that time marches forward no matter how badly he apparently wants to… I dunno, kiss (?) this girl.

Every character has exactly one dimension:
-Southerners are nasty, old fashioned, racist, stupid and shallow.
-Kids in bands are grungy, semi-friendly, and give their cars edgy names like “The Beater,” which is a huge opportunity for a penis joke, which the author misses completely.
-The only educated people in town are from elsewhere.
-No one ever leaves the town.  EVER.  The author feels the need to point this out a couple dozen times throughout the book just so you can remember how hard it is to be a teenager trapped in a beautiful house with a private cook and a free education.  Must be rough.
-The old ladies are all genuinely crazy.  It’s not cute.  They need medical attention.
-The one non-white character is an African American woman who works as a cook, practices voodoo, and sounds like a racist black face character.
-Magical-type people (“casters,” not witches, because that would be just one too many clichés, apparently) all fall within one category only: old-fashioned, slutty as hell, mentally challenged, or goth.  Pick one, then add ‘incompetent’ because in a book about “casters,” you’d think some “casting” would occur, but you’d be wrong.  When a few spells finally do get cast, all they end up doing is lighting fires and glaring at each other.  The tension is non-existent.

Here are a few things that DO happen, inexplicably:
-The main character proves to be psychic.  It’s not a big deal for some reason.
-A magic house changes its interior structure occasionally, but this serves no real purpose.
-The narrator is said to have some kind of power, but it’s never explained.
-Various “casters” are said to be types, like “natural” or “catalyst,” but these terms are never explained.
-The evil (and therefore slutty, of course) “caster” is capable of making people do anything she wants, and she chooses to use this power to mess up a prom.
-One of the “casters” drives a hearse for no reason.
-The whole book leads up to a night on which something bad is supposed to happen to this “caster” girl.  Her guardian (who has spent the whole book up to this point freaking out and protecting her from death) lets her attend what is essentially a rave that very night, which is obviously a terrible idea, but in the end, doesn’t matter much either.

The inconsistencies in this book were exhausting.  Still, I like magic stories so I kept reading thinking, “Surely, SURELY this will culminate in some kind of climax that will ultimately explain what a ‘natural’ or a ‘catalyst’ is.  SURELY all those other characters I’ve spent so much time reading about will prove to be more than just talking scenery.  Surely I haven’t just wasted $9 and a few days of my life reading this terrible, terrible book.”

Guess what: No.  Just no.

Do not buy this book.  Do not see the movie.  Save your money for food, shelter, or ice skating.  Ice skating is a better experience than this book, even if you hate ice skating.

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goodness

Levar Burton, you were right

all I want is a small house with library that looks like this

In case you didn’t know, books are fucking magical.  “Hi,” they seem to say.  “I’m a dead tree that can make you smarter.”  See?  Magic.

I’ve always been totally fascinated by the concept that paper and ink can change a person simply by existing.  That’s all books do, really: sit around waiting to be discovered, like gems, like stars, like Atlantis.  All it takes is looking at them, and a person is different, no matter how small the change.  The power of ideas, knowledge, emotion, resting nearby, quietly lying in wait to pounce on my imagination like a happy predator, like my roommate’s cat, Calico; this is magic.  The written word is powerful, and this baffles and delights me.

I watched Reading Rainbow as a kid.  Giordi Laforge hosted, and he was the greatest.  He must be one of the most beloved people by my generation.  Every episode, he would basically say, “Let’s go on an adventure by looking at paper with words on it.”  I believe that’s what’s commonly known as magic.

all the cool kids read copiously

Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high
Take a look
It’s in a book
A Reading Rainbow

I can go anywhere
Friends to know
And ways to grow
A Reading Rainbow

I can be anything
Take a look
It’s in a book
A Reading Rainbow

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