Review: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publication Date: October 18th, 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
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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.


Things have never been the same in this mystical Carolina town ever since Lena’s Claiming. The Day of Reckoning seems to be upon them.

The plague of insects infesting every inch of town. The nightmares and the panic. Casters who couldn’t control their powers, or use them at all. A river of blood…

Ethan is convinced that The One Who is Two will be the one to restore the Order. They just have to figure out who it was before time runs out for Gatlin and for the entire world.

Let me just get my bearings here…

I can’t believe I have to wait another year for the next book of this series. This is complete torture. I don’t know if I’ll survive that long. The ending made a basket case out of me. It made me mad and sad and just…gah!

Okay. I’m done.

Here’s what I thought.

When I started this series, I’ve considered Ethan as a younger brother I was very protective of. By the end of Beautiful Darkness, I started having some really disturbing feelings toward this boy. I’m ashamed to admit, that after reading Beautiful Chaos, I now have a full blown literary boy crush in the person of Ethan Lawson Wate. He finally grew up and has developed a more masculine personality and voice!

I have no clue how to describe the anxiety I felt while reading this. The amazing writing duo of Garcia & Stohl did an incredible job of never letting the reader get too comfortable. Even through the tender moments between Ethan and Lena, there was always this shrieking alarm in my head telling me that these kids were about to be put through an emotional torment. And by the end of this book, I may have cried as much as Lena did. Melodramatic, much? Read this book. You’ll see.

I’ve always had a hard time with serial books. The lag of time between publishing remains a stumbling block for me. It’s hard to jump back into its world without having to go through a quick refresher course. It takes me quite a bit of time before I pick up an installment to the series – more often, to a point where I wait for it to be completed before I dive back in. Well, that is not the case here. Page one threw me into the series like I just finished its predecessors yesterday. Just like that, I’m back in Gatlin – hotter than Amma’s kitchen and more magical than Ravenwood.

The authors didn’t spend a lot of time rehashing what had happened in the last two books. Maybe it’s because I loved this series so much that the books seemed like they’re still fresh reads. And in any case, Garcia and Stohl will not guide you back in slowly, they’ll THROW you back in. So if you’re not as big of a fan as I am, be prepared for some forehead-crinkling moments.

I don’t know how the dynamics of this writing duo work but I’m continually awed that they’re able to keep Ethan’s voice true and consistent through the entire series. I’d imagined it’s tough having two sets of writing personalities writing one character. How they’re able to combine their impressive skills and not overpower the other just completely amazes me.

Ethan was not the only character that has improved in one way or the other in this series. Most notably, John Breed. Until about a quarter to the end of the book, it was difficult to ascertain whose side this caster was on. But I am looking forward to reading more about him in the next book. The Caster Chronicles truly has one of the most well-developed, multi-dimensional set of characters I’ve read as of yet – with the exception of one, in my opinion. Ethan’s dad. His role was almost non-existent in Ethan’s life. Now that he joined the land of the living again, he’s back to teaching and therefore gone for the most part of the book. He pops in once in a while, but regrettably, he had a diminished role as a father. It was pretty sad that Ethan, knowing what he knew and what he was about to do, couldn’t even give his father a proper adieu.

The secrets everyone kept from each other was extremely frustrating. Sometimes, the intensity of frustration got to a hurl-the-book-across-the-room level. But in this case, I managed to calm myself down because the secrets added to the mystery and suspense of which this series is known for. So even though I wanted to shake Amma so bad and hit Ethan with the one-eyed menace over the head with repeatedly, I was able to appreciate the eventual reveal more.

Ethan and Lena’s relationship remain intense and beautiful. Maybe it’s because of their ability to talk telepathically, but this gave them a more poignant connection – which makes for an even more intense heartbreak. I’ve never been more prone to contacting the writers with some very harsh words along the lines of, “For the love of God, give me an HEA!”


With the combination of magic, mysticism, Religion and the real milieu of the good ol’ South, the third book of The Caster Chronicles left me breathless. Unrelenting suspense, beautiful writing and unforgettable characters kept me in constant wondrous state until the very last page. I will do just about anything to get an early copy of the fifth book. Absolutely amazing. 


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