Series Title: The Caster Chronicles
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Kami's Website Margaret's Website
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 where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. Mysterious, suspenseful, and romantic, Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption introduce a secret world hidden in plain sight. A world where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen. Sometimes life-ending.
So, I only started this series ten months ago. I got interrupted by the encyclopedia that is the Wheel of Time and life in general. I finished the other three books a couple of months ago--and because I'm terrible at writing reviews for series unless I'm stuck with time between them--decided to do a Series Sunday about the whole thing instead of one-offs. So here it is.
When I started this series, I loved it. I was charmed by Ethan's voice and narration. The setting was spectacular, the supporting characters solid. It was campy in places, and a little trite, but I was deeply engaged.
I blew through Beautiful Darkness nearly as well, and still really enjoyed it. Maybe not quite as much as Beautiful Creatures, but still a lot.
I have no idea what happened with Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption. I really do not. I just know that I struggled to finish them--and probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been listening to them on audiobook (which, while driving, is fairly effortless). I just got lost somehow. I really struggled with Beautiful Chaos. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it was interrupted by another series (which, admittedly, was my fault). Maybe it was the turn that that plot took. I'm not sure. I just know, that when I did finish it, I gave it two stars on Goodreads. I disliked it that much.
I suspect things started falling apart for me when Amma goes to see the bokor. That's about where I allowed myself to get wrapped up in WoT. Something about that move, that decision, was just... I'm not sure if "out of character" is the right description or unexpected, but it turned me off. Badly.
Chaos never really recovered for me. I felt like it was predictable--and painfully so. I saw what was coming, and I didn't like it. I didn't want to read it. I wasn't surprised by the ending. I was annoyed.
I didn't really care much for John Breed, either, incidentally. And he becomes much more
important in the last two books. I've mentioned that character is really big for me, and it's odd, because John would usually be a character I liked. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't like him, didn't like the whole setup. It felt forced. It was "let's set up these characters together because they don't get to be with who they want to anyway."
Redemption didn't really redeem itself for either. I had read so much in the series that I felt I had to finish it, and it was easier than Chaos, but I still was left feeling indifferent. I have to admit to some really original ideas of death and afterlife in it, but overall, when I was done, I felt "meh."
Another symptom of my "meh" reaction is the fact that I didn't go searching for more information about the series and what would happen. In series, I am a sucker for searching out spoilers. I'm terrible at letting the intensity build and hanging on the edge of my seat to find out. I want to know more, and I want to know now. Even with the arguably huge cliffhanger ending in Chaos, I felt no compulsion to find anything out. As I'm writing, I think it may have been a lack of depth to the world. I just didn't feel like there was much beyond what we were seeing. While the concept was original and a new take, I felt a distinct lack of deeper worldbuilding.
I didn't understand the Council of the Far Keep, didn't understand their function or how they really worked or why. I don't think it was fully developed and it left me feeling indifferent. Parts of the world portrayed didn't feel real, didn't seem to fit to me, just didn't make sense.
You'll have to forgive the negative-sounding review. I'm much better at picking apart things I don't like than pinning down things I do.
However, in spite of the feeling the last two books left with me, I still really enjoyed the first two. The character building and setting are excellent, the concept an original take, and a fun, charming narrator makes the first two absolute must-reads on my list.
For the second two, well, you'll have to decide that for yourself. For me, I wouldn't have felt bad just reading a detailed summary--I don't think I would have felt I missed much.
So, definitely encouraging the first two. 4.5 stars for them overall. 3 stars for the series as a whole.
Books in the Series:
1) Beautiful Creatures
2) Beautiful Darkness
3) Beautiful Chaos
4) Beautiful Redemption