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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Reading the graphic adaptation of Beautiful Creatures made me think of a bad movie adaptation.  The artwork is beautiful and really caters to manga fans, but readers who’ve read the book or listened to the audio version will find so much missing from this title.

Beautiful Creatures
Written by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Illustrated by Cassandra Jean
Yen Press, $16.99
Rated OT, for  Older Teens (age 16+)
Reviewer’s opinion, It should be rated T (13+)

Ethan Wate hates the small town of Gatlin, where he grew up and lives. His thoughts are on finishing school and going to college far away from Gatlin. But in his senior year, a new girl shows up in town, the same girl that’s been appearing in his very strange dreams. The two are linked magically. Lena, Ethan soon discovers, is from a family that has a long line of magic, but at sixteen, they are claimed by either good or evil. Lena doesn’t want to be claimed as dark, evil. But what events can change all that?

Beautiful Creatures is a beautifully written novel, rich in detail.The fault in this adaptation isn’t that it isn’t well executed, but how can you cram a 563 page novel into a manga that is only 238 pages long? Like I said, this is a bad movie adaptation.

Yet Cassandra Jean’s artwork is beautifully rendered. The black and white manga style drawings bring the characters to life. (Macon was not at all as I had envisioned him, and the depiction didn’t work for me, but Ama, while not how I pictured her, was better than my own images.) Jean uses standard manga techniques so that this will appeal to manga fans. Fans of the novels will be curious but, I believe, ultimately disappointed.

My unfinished book review has been sitting on my computer for months… and in the interim; I was a little surprised to see that this title was a Goodreads’ Choice for Best Graphic Novel (2013). I may not share the opinion of over 12,000 Goodreads readers, but still this is a title worth picking up.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. This happens every year. Goodreads users are not really comics readers, but instead of skipping the Graphic Novel category, they vote on the one they think they’d like. Inevitably this is an adaptation of a YA novel, or something else they’re familiar with in another way. Last year it was The Walking Dead, but before that it was the Vampire Academy and Twilight manga adaptations. 2009 was a Batman book— by Neil Gaiman.

    Looking at this year’s numbers (, BC had ~12k, Avatar the Last Airbender: The Search had ~11k, and The Walking Dead had ~10k votes. Then there’s a huge drop-off with Saga coming in 4th with ~6.6k.

    Really, they need to stop putting media tie-ins in the category. Even good ones like ATLA can rarely actually compare to original comics material. ATLA wasn’t better than Boxers & Saints, that’s for sure. And though this would probably lead to TWD winning for the next couple years, I still find that preferable to Hachette’s attempts to double-dip on their profitable YA properties winning every year.

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