November 15, 2012

The Swoon Factor

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Warning: Unlike my usual poetic book review, this is for YA fiction.  Like a gruesome teenager, I make little to no sense in this blog, turn into an Edward superfan and have begun to glitter…(Damn, I wish I was with my girls at the Twilight premiere tonight.  I’m not going to be able to read twitter for weeks.

We all fell for Edward or Jacob.

Then there was Peeta or Gale.

And now we have Mr. Wate.

I’m such a silly high school girl who has crushes on literary characters.  Wate had me at “beater” and the dreams where he wakes up with dirt underneath his fingernails, okay that one’s a little weird.  I know I’ve come to this late, way late actually because there are already three books out.  It’s like that time when I read The Hunger Games trilogy in a weekend and I made my boyfriend run to Walmart at 1230 at night to pick up strawberries and the third book.  Yea, that’s what my grocery list looks like.

Team Edward

Beautiful Creatures was one of the first YA novels that I didn’t hold a good clue about the ending.  Obviously, I was sure that the love story would keep playing out into the next two books, but the other people, Alma and Macon, I had no idea.  I’m still upset about the ending a little, a sniffle of a little.  I actually decided to read this book because I was seeing Paranormal Activity 4 with my boy (such a bust, don’t waste your money, it’s the third one with less excitement), and Beautiful Creatures had a preview.  I’m usually not to keen about witch stories unless they have some witch who throws an apple into a banquet hall “for the fairest.”  See: The Odyssey, The Trojan War, Snow White and a tad bit of Sleeping Beauty.  I prefer the Grimm kind if you’d like to know.

Somehow this book just spoke to me, it was the right kind of witchy.  We then, walked across the street to Target which only had the newest book and I scoped out the library early the next morning.  Lucky me, people aren’t dying to read this book.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a late bloomer like Twilight was.  I read Twilight almost three years before it became TWILIGHTFANGIRLEDWARDJACOBEATYOURFACE! My dad thought the cover looked interesting (it wouldn’t surprise you to know that he read 50 Shades of Grey when it came out because of its daring and inspirational cover).

I like Beautiful Creatures because it’s the new stage of paranormal YA.  Unlike Cinder, which I liked but thought was to easy to figure out, I like Beautiful Creatures because it was twisted, and complicated and only at page 407 did I realize a few key connections that would have helped me figure out the end.  It became particularly clear in the last 100 pages, but I can guarantee my students would know nothing until the bitter, sour end.  I’ve complained a lot about YA being too socially and emotionally low.  It’s like they take a downer for adult fiction and create this easy to read and easy to figure out YA fiction.  I don’t think YA should EVER EVER EVER be the “below average” and not complicated version of adult fiction.  If anything, teens need more action and more intensity.

Advice to Young Adult Readers

You should see how many tap dances I do at the front of my classroom everyday just to get my students interested in the classics.  I had to have a Maycomb Pig Pickin’ to get my students to become a character in the To Kill a Mockingbird Trial and I when I explained the Trojan War, the way Paris abducted Helen from King Menelaus, I said, “and Menelaus was like Nawww Braahhh.”  This is what I do in my classroom, this is how much it takes to get today’s students to look up from an exhilarating text message about last night’s “experiences” to actually learn something.

Students need books that make them want to keep turning the pages.  Students need books that leave them imagining enough that they can taste the rain of the story, the watermarked, wrinkled pages of it.  I moved on from Night with a test and a few vocabulary quizzes.  My students had little to no empathy unless we were watching a horrific video about the Holocaust.  However, Beautiful Creatures, now this would do it.  Two of my girls were so excited to see Shine mention To Kill a Mockingbird and I was just pumped that they were excited over the book being mentioned, that they even remembered the title.   Like Shine, Beautiful Creatures mentions To Kill a Mockingbird. I just mentioned like 9 books in 2 paragraphs, sorry.

Let’s get back to the creatures at hand.  None of them glitter (well, maybe a little).  None of them suck blood (except one member of team dark magic).  The best thing about it is it has constant references to the American Civil War.  I love a good petticoat and general’s uniform in my books.  They even have a reenactment on the Night of Sweet Sixteen.  Can you tell I’m excited by this book?

I wish I could tell you about it without giving too much away.

Here’s the hook: It has two libraries; a caster library which holds magical spell books and books filled with pressed flowers and herbs, and then a “normal” library with dusty history books, and people’s saved “just-in-case” tissues shoved into the cracks as a book mark.  Hey, it’s better than using a dirty spoon.

19 comments so far.

19 responses to “The Swoon Factor”

  1. Bea says:

    I am sorry you are not with your friends doing the traditional “Twilight at Midnight” thing, but hey, let’s start a new tradition!
    Your books sounds like a good one, maybe Harry Potter meets Twilight at the library? Anyway, if you like it, share it with your Father, because he loved the Twilight saga, the Hunger Games, and even 50 Shades of Gray!

  2. Jen Thompson says:

    Great post Cassie! I love anything like finding the next great book and this series sounds so good…I’m just going to have to read it…simple as… 🙂

  3. Brianna Soloski says:

    I’ve had this book on my Amazon list FOREVER. There is not enough time to read all the books on the list, or on my Kindle, or that I pluck off the shelf when I’m at the library pretending to write my own novel, but really, I’m browsing the stacks, looking for books that will suck me in and keep me up late, leading me to wake up at 8:30 a.m. (Luckily, I didn’t work today). I didn’t do the Twilight thing – I have the books, but I’ve only read the first one. I’ve seen the first three movies (and own them), but I never went fangirl.

    • Cassie says:

      UGHHHALKSDJFLKSADF READ IT SILLY GOOSE! You have to, it’s actually good YA which has been hit or miss lately in my opinion. And I know how you feel with the book list, bah, mine is out of control. Do you have any MUST-READ recommendations for me?

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        I’m reading van Booy and Strayed right now. It sounds like a law firm, eh? Sometimes I talk like I’m from Canada. I also say y’all, left over from three months in North Carolina. MUST READS?: Ian McEwan, obvs. Girl Seeks Place (that’s my book & yes, I’m shameless). Lately, I’ve been craving good literature, books that I want to mark up because the writing is so good. My journal is rapidly filling with quotes from Everything Beautiful… I forced myself to read ten chapters in a row yesterday just so I can finish it before it’s due back at the library. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It’s actually a trilogy, but just read Things. The other two fly so far under the radar most people don’t know they exist. The Stranger by Camus. Sarah’s Key by de Rosnay. Sweet Like Sugar by Hoffman.

        • Cassie says:

          It does sound like a law firm. AH! It’s okay that you say ya’ll because I’ve lived here since I was 5 and I definitely have an accent that I can put on with a snap. My parents are from NY so to people here, I say a few words VERY funny. I tried to read Atonement once and wanted to gouge my eyes out, unfortunately. I do plan to read your book at some point! It has a most excellent title. I HATED Things Fall Apart in high school, but it could be that I wasn’t ready for it, so as per your recommendation I will try again, but ONLY FOR YOU. Haha. I’ve read Sarah’s Key and loved it. The Stranger is in the book closet at school so I will have to read it!

  4. This is in my to-read pile. Thank you so much for your post. I’m digging it out and putting it on top!

    • Cassie says:

      Oh you’re going to love it! It’s a real quick read and a happy little story. Plus, unlike Twilight, there isn’t anything absolutely heartbreaking in the middle of it. (I can’t handle that kind of emotional stress, haha).

  5. Yamini says:

    I’ve always loved this book, not so much the second one but it (the series) is more…realistic—if it makes sense? I still have to read the last one that just came out! Waited for so long and now I can’t get time to read it…

    I agree that it’ll be a late bloomer b/c I read it when it first came out (been a few yrs) and now so many people are getting into it slowly…

    • Cassie says:

      I heard a bit about the second one and I may not read it because I didn’t like what I heard. I don’t have a great big need to read the next one. I guess the cliff hanger wasn’t that extreme. I may though just so I can talk to you about it. 🙂

      I hope with the movie coming out more people read it.

  6. B says:

    I’m interested in starting this series since I’ve seen previews for the movie. Thanks for the review!

  7. pymette says:

    I’ve been in a ya book mood for the past… year… haha 🙂 I love browsing teen fic and standing beside a kid who looks like he’s 9, and my husband’s like- “hon… step away from the hunger games box set.” Is this book worth the hype, then? I’ve seen it mentioned, good & bad, on goodreads, and I think my library has it, so possibly will give it a try! ~leanna

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Hi, I’m Cass

I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.

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