So, who gets intimitaded by big books?
I’ll admit it: I’m still a little weary, even though I’ve read some monstrously huge things in University (we’re talking 500+ pages here.) So when I’m reading for fun, I won’t always pick up a big book (at least not until I’ve read a few shorter ones first and I’m looking for something more substantial.) I refuse to read two overly long books in a row because I’ve gotten lazy now that I don’t have reading deadlines to meet.
So when I picked up a copy of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures, I was a little put off by the size, even if the back-of-the-book description was compelling enough (Southern gothic with supernatural elements? Yes please!) I don’t know why I’m still put off by things like that: I’ve read lots of really long books for school – we’re talking Dickens and Collins and the like – and loved both. But I’ve come to the conclusion that length isn’t the most imporant thing. There have been tons of books I’ve read that have felt too short. I can’t even make up my mind! It’s either too short or too long, which is worse?
Ultimately what’s really important is: is the story compelling enough to warrent all those pages? In the case of Beautiful Creatures there’s definitely more than enough plot to require the book to be so long. I won’t lie: there are moments where the story drags a little (the book could have been roughly 50 pages shorter) but at the end of the day, it’s a hell of a story. So often we see the ordinary girl in a supernatural tale being taken in by an extraordinary boy, but in Beautiful Creatures, this dynamic is flipped on its head: we see the thoroughly ordinary Ethan Wate fall for the extraordinary Lena Duchannes. The text isn’t without its unfortunate Romeo & Juliet moments but thankfully there’s no love triangles getting in the way. A few of the adult characters (Lena’s uncle Macon, Ethan’s caretaker Amma, the librarian Marian Ashcroft and Mrs. Lincoln) are particularly compelling, which rounds things out nicely. So often the grown-ups can be throwaway characters in YA, which is a shame (though fortunately not the case here.)
So, is the book too long? Maybe. Is it worth reading? Definitely. Moral of the story: don’t judge a book by its length. One of my favourite books in the world is Collins’s The Woman in White and it’s HUGE. But it’s also one of the best books I’ve ever read. I reviewed Kelly Creagh’s Nevermore awhile back and it’s not much shorter than Beautiful Creatures – you’ll recall I gave that one an A+. You just feel like you’ve achieved more when you read a big book. I still remember my mind reeling when I read the final pages of The Woman in White. Because it takes longer to read a big book, you get to spend more time in its universe and you come away feeling like you’ve really stepped inside the story.
Final grade for Beautiful Creatures: A-. Can’t wait for the movie!