Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: The Caster Chronicles #2

ISBN: 9780316077057

Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’ eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

I went into this book dying to know whether the issues that seemed kind of skimmed over in “Beautiful Creatures” would finally find solutions in this book. Instead I was confronted with something of a love… rectangle?

I knew with the events that happened in the end of “Beautiful Creatures” that Lena would be a bit scattered and mournful. I never thought it would manifest in the form of a tall, dark, and handsome stranger that seemed to be stealing her affections away from Ethan. There are so many ways Ethan could have confronted the situation rather than how he did. I was disappointed that Ethan didn’t show more spin. When someone threatens to come between two people in love, obviously one of them would fight to keep the relationship intact, right? I didn’t feel Ethan did much of that. Yes, he chased Lena as she continued to try to run away, but he did not actually confront her or try to reason with her. Instead he started to give up and look elsewhere same as her. That was by far the most frustrating part of the story. The fact that the two people who are fought so hard in the first book seemed to give up on the relationship they had finally gotten (moderately) approved.

The romance aspect was the only part of the book that I struggled with. I found the mysteries of the Caster world developing more and more intriguing qualities. The Tunnels, that were mentioned and explored only briefly in “Beautiful Creatures” is now one of the main focal points of this book. It was fascinating to explore the Tunnels along with Ethan and his, according to him, “motley crew” as they searched to save Lena from tall, dark, and yummy and virtually herself.

Throughout the book more and more revelations are made to show that even without Lena’s intervention in Ethan’s life he was always firmly embedded in the Caster world. If he hadn’t fallen for a Caster girl he would have still possibly discovered the society while attempting to understand his mother’s death. Lena has constantly chastised herself for involving Ethan in the Caster world but perhaps in later books she will stop doing so.

Lena is a character I struggle with on a book-by-book basis. In “Beautiful Creatures” I understood her self-deprecating ways a bit more due to the bullying of the entire town and a mother that discarded her until she needed her for her own selfish gain. The Lena of “Beautiful Darkness” I did not understand as easily. Yes, I understood she was devastated by events in “Beautiful Creatures” and that she is constantly struggling with whether she is good or bad, Light or Dark, but how that turned into a tryst with a stranger and despicable deeds she does throughout to both Ethan and the townspeople of Gatlin… I don’t 100% understand that. Grief can do things to a person, true, but to the extent that Lena was willing to give up the one person who has never faltered in their faith in her? What are you doing Lena? If you continue to be deputy downer all the time, you are going to ruin the series for me. First book, mild annoyance. Second book, starting to get worse. If the third book includes much of the same, I may have to step away from the Caster Chronicles for a while.

Don’t take my harsh words to mean that I hated the book. As I said, the aspects that didn’t involve the romance, were amazingly written and very Alice in Wonderland-like (which I LOVE by the way). That part of the book made up for all the woe-is-me’s from Lena and the I-love-her-but-give-up’s from Ethan. Would I say this was as good as “Beautiful Creatures”? No. Worse? Not by much.

Purchase: Amazon  »  Barnes & Noble  »  Book Depository

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