Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures Series #2)

Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl I am sorry to say it was a disappointment. The first book had moments of pacing difficulties but here they seemed to spiral out of control. There was no real beginning, middle or end to the story; it all just dragged out and felt like it was pushed together out of scraps of story and scenes. This book is over 500 pages long and you feel each of those 500+ pages, especially since the plot seems to have wandered off somewhere. Everything wandered from one scene to another with no real order or point. A strict editor could easily have taken a hundred or so pages from this story. It wouldn’t have been perfect but it would have flowed much easier. I really liked ‘Beautiful Creatures’ for a number of reasons as I mentioned above, but none of these things were present in this sequel – the mythos remains interesting and well crafted but it’s so clumsily put into the story with giant chunks of show-don’t-tell that it adds yet more speed-bumps to a story that desperately needs an energy boost. Ethan’s narration remains likeable enough but there are more points in this story where he doesn’t feel authentically male than in the previous story. Love stories may not be my favourite element in paranormal YA these days but it’s still important to make me care about the romantic leads and I just didn’t care about Lena in this story. Forget the fact that she’s barely in half of it; when she is there her actions didn’t do much to make me sympathise with her. In the previous book I understood her emotions and while I empathise to an extent here, her moments of ignorance, cruelty and just plain old stupidity drove me nuts. Stupidity should not drive the plot. This also left me wondering why the hell Ethan was so obsessively in love with Lena, especially since there were so many more interesting things about Ethan I wanted to know about, such as the return of his dad into his life after the events of the previous story. There were some small moments between Ethan and his dad where I really wanted to read more instead of that dreaded yet inevitable trope of the YA genre – the love triangle. Or rather a love square if I must be precise. With the added possible love interests in the story, I just didn’t care if Ethan or Lena ended up with someone different, although I admit to liking Ethan’s possible future English girlfriend Olivia more than I liked Lena. The moping and wondering just added more padding to a story that really doesn’t need it. But what disappointed me most about ‘Beautiful Darkness’ was something missing from the first book – the atmosphere. Garcia and Stohl did a great job in capturing the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck in a small town where everybody knew everything and gossip could ruin your life. It was like a lighter Southern Gothic but every bit just as effective and it was completely missing in this book. There was no tension, no atmosphere, no foreboding sense of something suspicious in the foreground and the book seriously suffers for it. That’s why this book was such a disappointment. I expected so much more and it just fell flat and didn’t deliver.‘Beautiful Darkness’ was such a letdown and I’m so disappointed that it didn’t live up to its predecessor. While the prose is still serviceable, the majority of the characters likeable and the mythos unique and interesting, the lack of plot, terrible pacing and lack of anything actually happening vastly outweigh the positives. If I’m completely honest, a lot of the time it felt like Garcia and Stohl were making it up as they went along, and with news that the series will go onto book 4 with more possibly on the horizon, I can’t see that as a good thing. The novel ends on a sort of (lazy contrived) cliff-hanger for book 3 which feels like the story is being dragged out like it’s part of the Saw franchise, and beyond it being uninteresting and thrown together solely for sequel bait, the story can only suffer as a result. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the ‘Beautiful Creatures’ series, I just don’t care enough.