Beautiful Creatures Book Discussion – Week 8
We’re are so excited to have Cutie from the awesome Super Secret Twilight Blog as our last guest poster for our book discussion (next week it’s me & Greta again). When we were talking about having this discussion, Cutie gave us a lot of great advice, having conducted the great Wide Awake discussion, and we’re grateful, as always, for her help.
Firstly, thank you to fragile and erikasbuddy for hosting this fan-freaking-tastic discussion. Putting together a discussion is a ton of hard work and I am grateful to you both for being so dedicated. *gathers into group hug* Thank you to all the fabulous posters who came before me. There is no way my post will come close to the awesomeness of y’all. Thank you to the authors for lurkin’ about and making us all feel insanely cool beans for checking out what we think about their amazing book. The sequel can’t get here fast enough… no truly it can’t. *winks teasingly* Thank you to fragile for demanding I read said book and for giving me first pick at the chapters I wanted to discuss. And lastly, thank you to everyone whose been reading every week, either silently contributing to this discussion *points at self* or sharing their thoughts.
SPOILER WARNING: This post details the plot of the book Beautiful Creatures. If you have not read the book and don’t want to know what happens, don’t read any further.
Nooooow, last week the lovely Rudy (aka Just The Librarian) left us with a feeling of desperation, for Ethan makes a promise to Lena that is not his to make. As Lena whispers in his mind: … I could lose you. Ethan impulsively response: That’s not going to happen. He promises so and then burns his hand. Foreshadowing? Me thinks so. With these heart-wrenching thoughts we move forward and meet the Sandman…
Sweet dreams are made of these
The final countdown has begun.
Lena’s birthday was in a week
One hundred and sixty-eight hours.
Ten thousand and eight seconds.
While Lena and Ethan desperately search The Book of Moons for a cast that would save one’s girlfriend (that they FINALLY have) before it’s too late, Ethan tries to remain relaxed and in control of his fraying emotions. As Lena spirals into a frantic depression, Ethan pushes aside his worries in the face of her trials and forces a calm he does not feel. However, Ethan cannot hide from his dreams. Dreams that rage against him. Dreams that remind him just how powerless he truly is. Looking for a distraction, Ethan takes up a little lite reading. But even the over the top angst and terror of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness or the Silver Surfer’s inability to stop Galactus from swallowing the universe can hold off Ethan’s own feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and sadness. And the nightmares rage on…
There was fire everywhere.
And smoke. I chocked on the smoke and ash. It was pitch-black impossible to see. And the heat was like sandpaper scraping against my skin.
It’s hard for me not to see a parallel here. The fire being Lena’s fate, a fate Ethan cannot see, cannot understand. A fate that is taking over his life, that will determine his future, as well. A fate he is powerless to control, but he is desperate to both embrace and escape. Yet the end of these dreams always eludes him, taunting and frustrating him, slipping from him as easily as Lena slips from his grasp…
Bolting upright in his bed and awaking from his fiery dream, Ethan comes to the realization that he is not alone, someone is in the room with him. That someone is none other than Macon Ravenwood. Ethan demands to know why Macon is in his room and refuses to accept “It’s complicated.”"Uncomplicate it,” he demands. But what Macon confesses is more than Ethan was expecting and a mystery is finally relieved to us the readers. Macon shares that he is neither a caster, alien, nor vampire, but a Incubus (Click here for a description of an Incubus. Thank you Wiki for always helpin’ a girl out when she’s confused about a mythical creature). Unlike a blood Incubus, Macon feeds on dreams, ideas, desires, fears, and memories. He takes things that “Morals have in abundance, something you don’t even need.” Unless, of course, the very thing he is stealing from you is the one thing you are desperate to learn, like say the outcome of a dream that has been haunting you and your cursed girlfriend for a while now.
And has Macon been stealing parts of Ethan’s dreams intentionally? Yes. In an effort to protect Ethan and Lena from some truth that they are not ready for. Macon informs Ethan that he and Lena would one day understand that they are just too different and should not be together. Ethan remembers the fate filled words of his great uncle when he wrote that he and his love where “A Species Apart.” However, even in the face of impending and inescapable doom, Ethan still has hope declaring he and Lena are not so different and that Macon is wrong. Macon’s response:
Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.
Excusing himself from both Amma (who had found Macon in Ethan’s room and was sorta upset at his being there) and Ethan, Macon turns in a swirl of overcoats and vanishes from the room. Leaving in his wake an even more baffled, scared, and unsure Ethan.
The calm before the storm
Ethan awakes with a sobering thought the next morning. He is unable to hide from reality any more, unable to kid himself that all the bad things in life would just disappear, melting into merely nightmares:
This time around, I knew if it seemed like everything had changed, it was because it had. It if seemed like things were getting weirder and weirder, it was because they were. If it seemed like Lena and I were running out of time, it was because we were.
With six more days and counting left, time was flying by and held no promise of good things to come. Lena and Ethan knew there was no escape, so they embrace their time together stealing ever moment they could:
We held hands in the hallway. We kissed by the back lockers until our lips ached and I felt close to being electrocuted. We stayed in our bubble, enjoyed what we tried to pretend were our ordinary lives, or what little we had left of them.
As the days tick by, Ethan struggles to find a cure all for their situation and spends every moment he can with the girl he loves. Meanwhile, Lena slips further and further into her depression, feeling literally imprisoned by her fate. Reaching a breaking point, the two fight and Ethan storms off with a mere 24 hours to go before her birthday. Ethan is left clueless as he ponders what to do:
I hadn’t had a girlfriend before so I wasn’t prepared to deal with all this – I didn’t even know what to call it. Especially not with a Caster girl.
Our poor, sweet Ethan is not just dealing with a girl whose having a bad hair day, but one who is facing losing her very self. With 24 hours to go, the Battle of Honey Hill and Lena’s sixteenth birthday looms before him. Adding more worry to his already overflowing basket of woes, Ethan learns from Luke that the Lolly-Pop Girl (aka Ridley) are planning a surprise party at Ravenwood for her cousin. Yet another event he is helpless to stop…
Amid all this, the two oldest houses in Gatlin are preparing for The Battle of Honey Hill and the other a cursed sweet sixteen birthday party. However, only one event took center stage in Ethan’s mind:
As for the eight casualties of Honey Hill, I couldn’t really compare. I was only worried about one. Because if I lost her, I would be lost, too.
So forget the Battle of Honey Hill. To me, this felt more like D-day.
“At the edge of the cliffs, the wind is a smack, and D-day becomes wildly clear: climbing that cutting edge into the bullets.”
- John Vinocur
Day One: We could stop waiting for the end to come.
The end was here.
Waking to the sounds of Lena losing it, Ethan finds that The Book of Moons is gone from his room. But he has no time to look for it, as Lena beings quoting Mr. T.S. Elliot:
this is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper
Ethan races to Ravenwood and finds that someone, either Lena or Macon, had redecorated yet again:
If you could imagine the color of anger, it had been splashed over every wall. Rage, something dense and seething, was hanging from every chandelier, resentment woven into thick carpets padding the room, hatred flickering underneath every lampshade….
What follows is so heart wrenchingly bittersweet I was forced to fall head over heels in love with Ethan and I longed for the world to make sense for Lena. Lena’s depression has reach an epoch, she is lashing out at the world. In the face of her overwhelming anger, Ethan stays the course, determined to be by her side. He races towards her, heedless of the dangers he faces. He is willing to take whatever she will allow:
Now I was standing at her bedroom door, leaning my cheek against the cold white wood of the paneling. I wanted to be with her, as close to her as I could get without having another heart attack. And if this was as near as she would let me get, if was enough for me, for now.
Swoon worthy, for sure. *sighs* But wait, it doesn’t stop there. And as I read, this chapter quickly became my favorite in the whole book.
Are you there, Ethan?
I’m right here.
I know, L.
I don’t want you to get hurt.
Ethan, I don’t want to leave you.
What if I do?
I’ll wait for you.
Even if I’m Dark?
Even if you’re very, very Dark.
*dabs at tears* Lena finally relents, because she believes him, just as I do. Letting him into her room, he holds her and soothes her as the prophetic music plays on. A new verse is added, one Lena has decided to ignore. She just wants to be with Ethan, the boy who makes her feel safe and loved. She wants to forget she’s cursed and be normal if only for a little while. And let me tell you, the over the top sugary sweetness that takes place makes my heart sing:
We fell onto her bed and curled into one ball, until it would have been hard to sort out whose limbs were whose. We weren’t kissing but it was like we were. We were closer than I’d ever realized two people could be.
I guess this is what if felt like to love someone, and feel like you had lost them. Even when you were still holding them in your arms.
Wishing to block out the world, they make their own little cave, one that Lena asked if they could never leave. Ethan gives her a present, something of his mother’s, something to show Lena that he does in fact love her. As he looks at her necklace of “junk” he realizes that it had become his junk, as well. That everywhere Lena went she carried little pieces of him with her. They come just short of saying the I love you’s we’ve been waiting for, and, I must confess, I am glad they just know it, feel it, and don’t need to say it at this point. What happens next is “a real kiss.” One that fixes the chaos of Lena’s room (and by extension her heart me thinks), un-shattering windows, putting clothing back on their hangers, and setting a fire off in the fire place. Not to mention shocking the hell out of Ethan.
Their stolen moments are quickly over. Ethan and Lena, hand in hand, must face their fate. Joining her family for her Binding, Lena gives herself a pep talk. The family starts the Binding, with Lena’s just arrived Grandma in the mix, when they are interrupted by a pounding at the door. The very magical living room morphs into an ordinary birthday party, complete with a birthday cake, within the blink of an eye.
Whose at the door? Why Ridley, Link, and everyone from school, but of course, here to surprise Lena with her birthday party, complete with a rock band and dance floor. Despite knowing she shouldn’t go, that Ridley is charming all her classmates into liking her, Lena longs to be a normal girl, with a normal life, and a normal sweet sixteen birthday party. In the face of Macon refusing to let her go, Lena sneaks out with Larkin’s help and Lena and Ethan (who also thinks its a bad idea for her to be at the party) enjoy themselves, dancing, holding one another, and being normal. And in the face of this normality, Lena is finally able to say those three little words to Ethan that she’s been denying herself of… “I love you.” Ethan’s response, “I love you, too, L. I think I always have.” It’s amazing how freeing those three little words can be. Standing with his arms around her, her hair against his chin, Ethan feels something (now ladies get your head out of the gutter! *smiles knowingly*):
… I felt something else. That part of her I thought I would never be able to reach, the part she kept closed off to the world. I felt it open up, just long enough to let me in. She was giving me a piece of herself, the only piece that was really hers.
Talk about a proud Mama Bear moment here. Our little Lena is finally feeling hope… To bad it only lasted five more minutes…
Her kiss is sweeter than cherry pie
Lena and Ethan’s little bubble of happiness is burst by Link, who rushes over to Ethan to let him know his dad is on the balcony of the Fallen Soldiers, in his pjs, and lookin’ as if he were about to jump. Mixed emotions of shame and pain overwhelm Ethan. Despite his father’s break with reality, Ethan truly loves his dad. Plus, he’s all Ethan’s got now that his mom is dead. But concern for Lena holds Ethan back, until Larkin says he’ll take Lena home and she promises to go directly there… hm…. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after years of reading it’s that no good can come of young lovers going in different directions.
Fearing he’s too late, Ethan frets when he can’t see his father immediately upon reaching the Fallen Soliders. And when Link tries to reassure him by saying that Ridley is with his father, Ethan’s stomach bottoms out as he remembers:
If she used her power on you, and she told you to jump off a cliff- you’d jump.
And when he reaches the balcony, there stands the Lolly-Pop Girl sweet talkin’ he daddy into jump off the ledge. Ethan offers to help his dad, but Ridley counters back with:
You don’t want his help, do you, Mitchell? You just want some peace. You just want to see Lila again.
Link watches helplessly as Ridley and Ethan fight. When he questions Ridley about who Sarafine is and what’s going on, she tells him he’s out of his league, however, Ethan notices a flicker of genunine emotion cross her face. A moment in which one is left to ponder if Shirnky Dink (aka Link) means a little bit more to Ridley then she’s willing to admit or even realizes herself.
But Ridley has orders and she must follow through or else. And a shocking confession is made:
I’m sorry about this, Short Straw. I really am. But everyone has a part to play, and this is mine. Your dad is going to have a little accident tonight. Just like your mom did.
Um… Excuse me, what? Lila was killed! By who though and why? Ridley answers neither of these questions for us, only saying that it was before “her time.” Either way, none of it matters, and it’s not personal it’s business. Why must his dad die? To distract Ethan and get him away from Lena, she confesses.
Link, meanwhile, is trying to process what he is hearing. Allowing the truth to sink in, that his girlfriend is a Siren witch whose been using him to get at Lena. Link refuses to believe that she doesn’t feel something for him. That it wasn’t all just a lie. He implores her to admit that he was more to her than just a job, that they had “shared things.” He stands before her, pleading with her and she relents.
With his father safe, and the implications of Ridley’s confessions weighing heavily upon him, Ethan reaches out to Lena with his mind to make sure she’s okay and implores her to stay with Larkin. Link, however, can’t let Ridley go without declaring “You’re not all bad.” To which she responses “Maybe I’m just drawn that way.” And this reader was left thinking… Are you really?
The clock is racing, Ethan and Lena are split up, and the time of the claiming is at hand. My poor little heart is about to explode!
Questions. Questions. Questions.
My mind is a random mess of wonders while reading a book.
Here are a few things I pondered.
What do ya thunk?
1. What do you make of Macon’s confessions to Ethan? And do you, like Ethan, feel that he is holding back an essential piece of the puzzle?
2. Having read The Heart of Darkness (if you have seen Apocalypse Now the movie is based off the short story) and knowing the story of Glacitica swallowing the universe, it was clear to me that Ethan was not escaping by reading but wallowing in his own depression. Interestingly enough, the so called stronger species in this story (Lena) is unable to handle the stress she faces, while Ethan man’s up and wallows in private where he cannot hurt her. Which got me thinking, who do you view as the strongest person in Lena and Ethan’s relationship? Ethan? Lena? Or are they pretty even? And in the end, how will this effect the outcome of the story?
3. If Lena had never met Ethan, do you think she’d had the strength necessary to face her birthday? Or were the two destined to meet?
4. After the real kiss, Ethan declares “We’re really going to have to figure out what to do about that.” What exactly is that? What do you make of the heart attacks and crazy happenings whenever Ethan and Lena touch or kiss?
5. Why did Ridley relent and let Ethan’s dad live? Was it due solely to Link? Bordem? A moment of compassion? And what does this say about the claiming and it’s power? Is there a way to defeat the curse?