Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3), Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Chaos
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Release Date: Oct. 18th 2011 from Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 starHalf star

I have mixed thoughts on Beautiful Chaos. On one hand, I love Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s writing and, like always, it shines through. The second half of the book was seriously exciting, and left me not just in tears, but crying. Ugly crying. On the other hand, the ending felt like a kick in the gut, and I really struggled to get into the story after a very slow start. For me, Beautiful Chaos was not easy to read.

From Goodreads:
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

OK, so imagine the movie trailer voice: THIS SUMMER, THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING TO GATLIN. We join Ethan in a darker place than we have before, and something is wrong. He's losing the plot. In addition to dangerous dreams, he’s forgetting himself. Memories, phone numbers, everyday details, Ethan's losing little pieces of himself one bit at a time. Not good. He can’t even confide in Amma: she’s gone darker than she ever has before.

Since Lena claimed herself, both the Caster and Mortal worlds seem to be falling apart. I wasn't joking about the apocalypse. Drought, pestilence, swarms of locusts. The Caster's powers are misfiring, which is kind of dangerous when you can set fire to things with your brain. Where Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness were about choosing your own path, and taking control of your destiny, Beautiful Chaos is about dealing with the consequences, and perhaps about the inevitability of fate.
“The Mortal world is in a state of beautiful chaos, which will ultimately lead to an exquisite end.”
These books are so immersive. As Beautiful Chaos commenced, some quality or cadence of tone sucked me once more into the tiny world of Gatlin, and had me enthralled by that lush, hypnotic, flowing prose Garcia and Stohl have mastered. The short version: I love Garcia/Stohl's writing. The quality and feel of it. But I struggled to get into the story.

Beautiful Chaos has SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. that for the first half—that’s 250 pages, folks—it felt like nothing happened. So much time was spent on setting up so many different plot threads, events, and carrying over ones from the previous book, it was overwhelming. I struggled through the beginning of Beautiful Chaos like I was walking through knee-deep mud. But then, thankfully, it got GOOD. Pages 250-500-something are exciting, mysterious, high-stakes and everything I expect from these darned-talented authors.

Did Someone Turn Out The Lights?

The Caster Chronicles have always been dark, but Beautiful Chaos is darker. The bleak tone and hopelessness of the situation in Gatlin weighed down on me, and as much as I love revisiting the world of this series, for me it made Beautiful Chaos hard to read.

Once again, people are keeping secrets, but this time, the people we trust to have the answers—Amma, Macon Marian and the other Casters—are at a loss themselves. The safety net’s gone. The stakes are higher this time; the dangers seem more real. Characters we’ve come to know and love get hurt. And, as the cover copy promises: this time, there’s no happy ending. There’s a feeling of desperation hanging over our favourite Caster-Mortal blended/extended family, and it rubs off on the reader.

One of the darkest points of Beautiful Chaos for me was Amma: like Ethan, we’ve come to count on Amma as our pillar of strength, but Amma’s falling apart at the seams. Seeing Amma like this was heartbreaking and frightening. The lady's a seer--if she’s that worried, well, people: we have problems.

Did I Say *Tiny* World?

One of the things I love most about the Caster Chronicles is Gatlin: it’s as much a central character as Amma or Macon. It’s not just a backdrop, but a living, breathing thing. Wake’s Landing, Marion’s library, Ravenwood, the tunnels, the cliquey school, the self-righteous, bigoted DAR and quirky sisters combine into something larger than themselves. I love Gatlin. It excites and terrifies me. It’s like the TARDIS: there’s more than meets the eye—it’s bigger on the inside!
“Don’t you start Mercy-Lynne. You know vegetabalism is one step closer ta a world without panties an’ preaches. That there is a documented fact.”

Hmmm... So Basically:

For me, Beautiful Chaos didn’t feel like its own book, but more a culmination of the events of those preceding it. The whole book was climax Climax CLIMAX! Then it ended. Seriously. Mega-uber-massive cliffhanger. And not in a good way. Beautiful Chaos was five hundred pages of build-up to an event that didn’t happen in this book.

I’m the first to admit I don’t love cliffhangers, but I can respect a good one... and in a way, I suppose this one was, but, at the same time, there was no resolution to any of the events within this book, and that frustrates me. I was left knowing (almost) as little on page 516 as I was on page 1.

Despite these complaints, I enjoyed Beautiful Chaos. The writing is gorgeous, the stakes are high, the characters I know and love are all there hiding their secrets, and Gatlin? My oh my I love Gatlin.

Beautiful Chaos was dense, convoluted, overwhelming, heartbreaking and... while fabulous on some levels, unsatisfying, on others. Either way, it’s achieved its goal: I’m eagerly anticipating book four, if for no other reason than to find out how this one actually ends! If you're a fan of the Caster Chronicles, definitely read Beautiful Chaos. If you're already undecided on this series, Beautiful Chaos will do little to change your mind.

Books in This Series:

  1. Beautiful Creatures
  2. Beautiful Darkness
  3. Beautiful Chaos
  4. As yet unamed, expected 2012

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  1. Ooh great review!! I STILL need to read this series!!

    Thanks for stopping by the blog!

    Reading is my cup of tea

  2. Although you had some issues, I am glad you still enjoyed! Ugh, the ending... the ending... the ENDING. I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers. I love them for what they do to me. I hate them for what they do to me. One that can twist at my heart is both amazing and goddamn awful haha.

    And I so feel the same about Gatlin. Kami and Margaret really excel at making it a character all of it's own, it always feels so familiar and welcoming when diving back into one of these books <3

    Fantastic review! Now let's sit in torment together until the 4th freaking book *twitch*

  3. This is a series I've been meaning to read for a while but just haven't found time for yet. But after your comments about the cliffhanger I might wait until book 4 is released so I don't have a long and agonising wait ;)

  4. Thanks Molly! The books are really beautifully written, and I love love love Hatlin. They're worth reading, but they're LONG :D

    @Brodie: yes yes and yes! I really did like it, and the more space between finishing it and thinking about I I leave, the more I like it. I'm excited and TERRIFIED to see where they take it next, but yes: the ending... I mean, normally I have an idea with cliffhangers, but this one has me speechless! *twitch* ;)

    @Chrissie: the books are fab, and the writing is so so SO beautiful. You could totally read book 1 and 2 and wait for book 4, but the ending... Yeah :/
    It kills me! It kind of feels like this series is never going to end, and we'll be strung along from cliffhanger to cliffhanger for the rest onour natural lives! But in a good way, if that makes sense. I LOVE escaping into this world every year :)

  5. I've only read the first book in the series and I loved it!!! I totally NEED to pick up the rest asap. To the library!!! Thanks for the amazing review :)


  6. @Jaskirat: You totally should! Some parts of the second book really frustrated me, but I liked it, and I really did like Beautiful Chaos, too! I LOVED Beautiful Creatures, and I love-love-love escaping into Gatlin when these books come out :)

  7. I read the first two books in the series and really liked them (although I loved Beautiful Creatures a lot more than the second book too!), but for some reason, I never had any INTENSE desire to pick up this book when it came out! But I will eventually, that's for sure! I want to know what happens, and I'm really intrigued about the super-intensity of this one now! :)

    Awesome review, Sarah! I LOVED Gatlin too!! I just have a thing for tiny, gothic towns LOL! x)

  8. Oh dear! I haven read Baeutiful Darkness yet so I didnt read your reivew. Although I saw the 3 stars which are not too many but good enough for me to enjoy =9.

    Thnx for the review (though I cannot read it yet) but you certainly reminded me that I have a copy of Beautiful darkness sitting on my shelf and waiting to be read =9.

    Muah!! ^__^

  9. @Mimi: Thanks you!
    Despite being excited for this book to come out for a year, when it *did* come out, I was kind of 'huh. OK' about it--no desire to race and pick it up, either.
    Gatlin is just... like you: I just have a thing for tiny, gothic towns. Did you read The Splendour Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore? I love it for the same reason :D

    @Natalia: I love that you're not spoilering yourself on this one! I really hope you love it Natalia! I DID like it. I really like the series, and I love Garcia/Stohl's writing and Gatlin. OMG, GATLIN. I love LOVE Gatlin. 3 stars, for me, is good, I promise! 4 is LOVE, and 5 is like, OMG THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE XD

  10. I am seriously behind on this series! Everytime I go to the library I remind myself that I have to get this book but then I always leave without it!

    Anyways, great review! I had a feeling that the authors would end this one with a cliffhanger! Especially after leaving us on the edge after the first book!

  11. @Sarah: oh my goodness, I know, right? EVIL EVIL EVIL cliffhangers... but the more space I put between reading this, the more I like it. There is not a CHANCE I'm going to forget the ending any time soon, and, despite being less than totally in love with it, I'm dying to read the next one. DYING. Seriously. You'll find me collapsed over my keyboard o_O

  12. I loved this book better than the first and second one. It's well written and beautifully crafted. My only complaint would be that Ethan, Lena and link don't spend enough time doing normal things. For example, the author would talk about how the town is being destroyed and everything is going wrong for pages and pages and then make Ethan and Lena go to the movies once. I felt like there were not enough worry-free moments. Other than that this is a great read and well worth the money!! I do find Lena's character to be a bit dry though.



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