Beautiful Creatures is a story of star-crossed lovers with a supernatural edge and atmospheric Southern setting. The film adaptation of the first novel in Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s fan-favorite series (2009, Little, Brown) is fittingly scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day, 2013. Presented by Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures, Beautiful Creatures (PG-13) was directed by Richard LaGravenese, who also penned the screenplay. High schooler Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) yearns to escape the confines of his small middle-of-nowhere South Carolina town. When the mesmerizing and unique Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), niece of local recluse Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), arrives in Gatlin, Ethan just can’t keep his eyes off of her. Romance blossoms between the two teens, and Ethan unexpectedly finds himself immersed in a world infused with mystery and magic, for Lena is a “Caster”—or witch—who possesses special powers. As her 16th birthday draws near—the day that will determine her fate as a force for good or evil—secrets about their town, its history, and both of their families begin to come to light, secrets that will play a role in Lena’s destiny. The cast also includes Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, and Emmy Rossum. YAs can visit the movie’s website to view video previews and a gallery of photos.
Mark Cotta Vaz’s Beautiful Creatures: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (Little, Brown, 2013; Gr 7 Up) provides an in-depth look at the making of the film. Beginning with a description of the book’s origins (the authors scribbled out their story ideas on paper napkins at a restaurant during lunch and were egged on to complete the project by a bet made with one of their daughters), the well-written text goes behind the scenes to delve into the screenwriting process, casting, costume and hair design, location and sets, special effects, and more. Thorough explanations and quotes from the creative staff and actors paint a portrait of a production that strove to make the story’s fantasy elements seem real. Readers discover the nitty-gritty details behind the movie magic from the construction of a ruined plantation’s crumbling columns and walls out of foam, to a meticulously crafted high-tech dining room set that could actually spin and move around (design schematic included), to the challenges of re-creating Civil War battle scenes. Numerous full-color photos, both candid shots and film stills, appear throughout and are handsomely integrated into to volume’s inviting layout. Eye-catching and informative, this fun-to-browse offering will reel in book and film fans.
Help moviegoers make a connection to the source material by displaying Little, Brown’s new media-tie-in edition of Garcia and Stohl’s novel (2012; Gr 7 Up), which features an eye-catching cover showcasing the cast. Told in a riveting first-person narrative by Ethan, this page-turning story is driven by unique and strongly delineated characters, a skillfully created world in which small-town realism coexists with supernatural secrets, and an against-the-odds romance that reveals the power of true love. This edition is also available as an audio book with CD. Make sure you have copies of the rest of the series for readers who get hooked: Beautiful Darkness (2010), Beautiful Chaos (2011), and Beautiful Redemption (2012, all Little, Brown).
A graphic novel version of Beautiful Creatures (Yen, 2013; Gr 7 Up), adapted and illustrated by Cassandra Jean, will be released in early February. The elegant cover, a profile image of Lena in luminous violets with silver lettering, welcomes readers. Though the plot has been streamlined, the succinct script and crisp manga-style illustrations effectively convey the major story points and work in harmony to establish characterizations, build suspense, and create a distinctive and dramatic mood. Shading is used to distinguish between spoken dialogue and Ethan and Lena’s ability to communicate silently. Bold cross-hatching underscores moments of great magic, while softer lines and and smaller-size panels evoke the protagonists’ indomitable affection. Well-paced and logically delineated, each chapter ends on a high note, building toward a satisfying climax. This graphic novel grabber provides an inviting and fresh way for series fans to revisit the story or for the uninitiated to take their first steps into the Caster world.
A Potpourri of Paranormal Romances
Tempt teens who just can’t get enough of these Beautiful Creatures to keep reading by booktalking or displaying a selection of page-turning tales forged with mystical wonder and touched by true love. Encompassing copious coming-of-age themes and a variety of writing styles, these titles also make excellent choices for book discussion groups.
For as long as she can remember, 16-year-old Blue Sargent has been told by the members of her clairvoyant family that she’s destined to kill her true love with a kiss. Though she has no psychic ability of her own, Blue’s presence amplifies the talents of others, and she knows from experience to put trust in these predictions and resolves to never fall in love. When she meets The Raven Boys (Scholastic, 2012; Gr Up), a group of students from a nearby posh private boy’s school, she finds herself swept up in their quest to locate a local ley line—an invisible pathway of spiritual power. Led by the handsome Gansey, they hope to discover the resting place of a legendary “sleeping” Welsh king. Things get complicated when her feelings for Gansey—who is as exasperating as he is charismatic—begin to deepen, and prophesy seems destined to lead to danger. Unfolding at a pace that manages to be both suspenseful and stately, Maggie Stiefvater’s masterfully written novel features unique and deftly drawn characters, a plot as pleasingly complex as a well-played chess game, and the heart-pounding excitement of a murder mystery. The surprises keep on coming, right up until the very last sentence, and readers will clamor for the next installment in a planned quartet.
Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Texas Gothic (Delacorte, 2011; Gr 8 Up) blends laugh-out loud humor, hair-raisingly eerie ghost tale elements, and delectable romantic tension. Priding herself on her steely rationality, Amy Goodnight has long played the role of protector of her oddball family of practicing witches, “psychics and potions makers and ghost whisperers” who have zero interest in appearing normal. She’s looking forward to a quiet pre-college summer spent with her sister ranch-sitting for their aunt in rural Texas. However, when a construction project exposes long-buried human remains and stirs up the local specter—a spirit who seems to want something from her—Amy must tap into her own talents. Add to this a neighboring cowboy whose blue eyes and biceps make it worth overlooking his obnoxious demeanor, a crew of university students tasked with excavating the grave site, spine-tingling supernatural occurrences, and a mystery that involves menacing bad guys who are very much alive. A fast and fun read, narrated by a likable protagonist, peopled with quirky characters, and propelled with rip-roaring action.
A true Misfit (Amulet/Abrams, 2011; Gr 9 Up), Jael is aware of her half-human and half-demon heritage, but knows almost nothing about her past…or her potential. When her strict and ever-cautious father, a former priest, gives her a necklace for her 16th birthday that once belonged to her mother along with an admonition not to wear it, she just can’t resist. Suddenly, she finds herself in possession of amazing powers and begins having visions of the past: the fiery romance between her father and the ancient goddess/demoness Astarte; their amazing adventures smiting and exorcising evil-minded demons; and her mother’s choice to sacrifice herself to protect baby Jael. Needless to say, all of this makes the teen’s day-to-day life as a Catholic high school student a bit of a challenge, as does the fact that Belial, fearsome Grand Duke of Hell, is determined to hunt her down. Empowered by the affection of a cute skater dude and and her own blossoming abilities, Jael resolves to stand and fight. Steeped in mythology, religion, and dazzling imagination, supernatural elements fuse neatly with the book’s realistic Seattle setting. Jon Skovron blends demon-slashing action with philosophical quandaries and touches of wry humor as this delightfully strong heroine wrestles with believable coming-of-age issues.
The Golden Lily (Razorbill, 2012; Gr 8 Up), the second volume in Richelle Mead’s “Bloodlines” series, is set at Amberwood Academy, a California boarding school that serves as secret hiding place for Jill Dragomir, princess of the Moroi, a vampire sect more peaceable than their fierce Strigoi counterparts. Alchemist Sydney, part of a covert organization of humans dedicated to keeping the existence of vampires a secret, has been tasked with keeping Jill and her cohorts safe. Dangerous foes and mysteries intrigues lurk everywhere, and Sydney must balance schoolwork with duties that include serving as boyfriend advisor, bodyguard, and scientific researcher. And though she’s supposed to remain detached, she finds herself thinking of her vampire acquaintances almost as family, bringing her true allegiances into question. When she meets a boy who seems to be the perfect match, the overly analytical and socially inept Sydney struggles with the ins and outs of date expectations and first-kiss etiquette, while a much more heartfelt—and forbidden—passion brews between her and a troubled Moroi. Both funny and sincere, the first-person narration remains consistently in character, defining an individual who is intelligent, courageous, caring, and charmingly clueless about how others perceive her. A spin-off of the “Vampire Academy” series (Penguin), this spellbinding series will thrill fans and win new readers over to the author’s enticing world.
Truly Gothic in its haunting early-20th-century Swampsea setting and grandiose in its storytelling panache, Franny Billingsley’s Chime (Dial, 2011; Gr 7 Up) is told from the perspective of a 17-year-old character who believes that she should hang for her witchy crimes. Gifted with the second sight, Briony has the ability to see the spirits that linger in the marshes surrounding her town and thinks that she caused the incident that resulted in her stepmother’s death as well as the long-ago accident that left her twin sister Rose mentally fragile. Only when a handsome visitor arrives, a young man with leonine good looks and flashing eyes, does Briony begin to gaze through her guilt and self-hatred to see her own spirit—and dark secrets long hidden away—with clear eyes. Flavored with primordial magic and touches of wit, this novel is lyrically written, breathtakingly romantic, and beguiling from beginning to end. Also available in audiobook format from Random House Listening Library.
VAZ, Mark Cotta. Beautiful Creatures: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. Little, Brown. 2013. pap. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-316-24519-7.
GARCIA, Kami & Margaret Stohl. Beautiful Creatures. Media tie-in ed. Little, Brown. 2012. Tr pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780316231671; pap. $7.99. ISBN 978-0316231657; AudioBook. $19.98. ISBN 9781619698437.
_____. Beautiful Creatures. illus. by Cassandra Jean. Yen Pr. Feb. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316182713.
STIEFVATER, Maggie. The Raven Boys. Scholastic. 2012. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545424929; ebook $17.99. ISBN 9780545469791; AudioBook. $39.99. ISBN 9780545465939.
CLEMENT-MOORE, Rosemary. Texas Gothic. Delacorte. 2011. PLB. $20.99. ISBN 9780385906364; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385736930; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780385736947; eBook. $9.99. ISBN 9780375898105.
SKOVRON, Jon. Misfit. Amulet/Abrams. 2011. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419700217; pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781419704109.
MEAD, Richelle. The Golden Lily. “Bloodlines” series. Razorbill/Penguin. 2012. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781595143181; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781595146021; eBook. $10.99. ISBN 9781101565889.
BILLINGSLEY, Franny. Chime. Dial/Penguin. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803735521; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780142420928; eBook. $8.99. ISBN 9781101476048.
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