Spoilers for Beautiful Creatures. This is the type of series best read in order; so if you haven’t read Beautiful Creatures, here is my review and interview with the authors from last year. Read Beautiful Creatures then come back.
First, my review. Then, my short question & answer with the authors.
The Plot: This sequel picks up almost immediately after Beautiful Creatures ends. Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes battled the odds and won! Or, so it seemed. Lena is haunted by the death of her uncle, and Ethan is hearing new, strange songs that warn that the danger is far from past. In her grief, Lena pushes Ethan away. If she doesn’t want his help, what should he do? Can Ethan walk away from the girl of his dreams?
The Good: Wowza. That is review-speak for “I liked Beautiful Creatures, but I love Beautiful Darkness.” Of course, much like Skechers and a Prada backpack, I thought I loved Beautiful Creatures until I read Beautiful Darkness.
In Beautiful Creatures, Lena’s sixteenth birthday loomed as the day when it would be decided whether she was a light Caster or dark Caster; whether she was good or bad. While it seemed a matter of predestination or fate, Lena’s family, including her dark caster mother and cousin Ridley, tried to influence the proceedings. Lena wasn’t claimed, and now Ethan is hearing ominous songs about what will happen on Lena’s seventeenth birthday.
In Beautiful Creatures, Lena and Ethan were kept apart because of the fear of her sixteenth birthday and because she was a Caster and he a mortal. It was “electrifying,” and not in a good way, when things got too hot and heavy between them. In Beautiful Darkness, Lena’s grief over Uncle Macon’s death, and the events that led up to it, succeed in doing what her mother and cousin could not do: it forces Lena to look inside at the darkness within. Beautiful Darkness shows that we all have that darkness within us; the question becomes, how do we handle it?
Lena deals with her anger, guilt, and hate by pushing Ethan away and taking on some of the traits (and fashion sense) of her dark siren cousin, Ridley. Ethan is puzzled and hurt by Lena’s actions, especially when she also begins to spend time with the mysterious John Breed, who could be either a Caster or Incubus. And at this point, I’ll confess something — I really, really wish that I reread Beautiful Creatures before reading this book. Garcia and Stohl have created a wonderful supernatural world, and I forgot half of it. They give enough to follow and enjoy (and love!) this sequel, but I should have reread the previous book.
Ethan’s journey to save Lena becomes literal: he further explores the mysterious Caster tunnels, winding up in some unexpected places and getting some new allies. You may recall I kept thinking of Beautiful Creatures as Dangerous Creatures, because even though there was beauty there was danger and that danger was what most impressed me. Guess what? That danger is still there, except instead of thinking of this as Dangerous Darkness (cause that is just silly!) I keep wanting to call it Beautiful Danger. The danger, the darkness, is so attractive and seductive and as Lena discovers, so easy….
Seriously, I love this story yet have a mental block against the real titles. If I ever get on Jeopardy (YA books for 800, Alex) I’ll get this question, I’m sure, and look like an idjit. However, my bad memory tells you something important: this book, like the first, is full of danger and real-life risks.
And now, for the question and answer part of our program!
Liz B: Beautiful Creatures was a 2010 Finalist for YALSA’s The William C. Morris YA Debut Award. In addition to being popular in the United States, it has also been translated into other languages. How many languages/countries is it in? What has been the most surprising thing about the translation process?
Kami: Currently, Beautiful Creatures will be published in 36 countries, in 27 different languages. It hasn’t actually come out in all of those countries yet, but the rights have been sold.
Margie: Since Beautiful Creatures has so many regional Southern references and dialects, we get a lot of questions from translators about food, expressions, and the Civil War. One German editor asked if he could cut down the book slightly because German words are so much longer than English words. Otherwise, the book would have been about 900 pages!
Liz B: Have you had a chance to meet with your international fans?
Kami: We went on tour in France and Spain this past May, which was incredible! Our fans were so wonderful there. We had great events in Paris and Lille, Madrid and Barcelona.
Margie: I’ll be doing three more events in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble in November; 16 Lunes is doing really well in France. When I spoke at a book festival in Rome last summer, the Italian Castergirls were amazing! I’ve also met our German publishers, who are incredibly supportive. All the international fans we’ve met have been so enthusiastic about the book — starting fan sites, talking to us on Facebook and Twitter. We can’t thank them enough.
Liz B: Did having an international readership impact the writing of the sequel?
Kami: We don’t think about the book in those terms when we’re writing. We only think about the story and what makes sense for our universe and our characters. And we have such amazing translators that we don’t have to worry. They really find a way to make the story accessible to the readers in their specific countries.
Margie: I don’t know so much about Asia and Eastern Europe, but the EU readers are very sophisticated, and YA is a growth market there as well. Our European readers have these genre-born attitudes about “American high schools” and “American families” and “American Cheerleaders” that come from YA books and American television; it’s very funny to sit down with bloggers and talk about it all. So our EU readers are fairly well-versed in what to expect from a YA book. Our book is a bit longer and more regional, but the sense of place seems to be one of the things our foreign readers are enjoying.
Liz B: Thanks, Kami & Margie!
Links you may be interested in:
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl & The Caster Chronicles at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com
Caster Girls & Boys fansite at www.CasterGirls.com
Little, Brown’s Beautiful Creatures website, www.SomeLovesAreCursed.com, has extras such as excerpts, downloadables, and a map of Gatlin
This is part of a Beautiful Darkness tour organized by Novel Noise. Other stops on the tour:
The Compulsive Reader, October 1
Boy With Books, October
The Story Siren, October 12
Steph Su Reads, October 14
Green Bean Teen Queen, October 18
Wastepaper Prose, October 20
Frenetic Reader, October 22
Late Bloomer, October 26
Page Turners Blog, October 28
Bookalicio.us, October 31
Good Books and Wine, November 3
Page to Premiere, November 6
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, November 8 (that’s here, today!)
Mundie Moms, November 11
Photo credits: Alex Hoerner (top author photo), Vania Stoyanova (second author photo)