Saturday, March 6, 2010
Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
By Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
2009 Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Young Adul
Summary (Press Release)
There were no surprises in Gatlin County. At least, that's what I thought. Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong. There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met.
When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
I have been waiting to read this book for quite a while now and I was not disappointed at all. Beautiful Creatures is a book to be treasured, not just for its paranormal element, but for its forbidden love story, its plot twists and turns, and for characters who make you care and believe in what they believe in and just draw you into their stories.
The story is set in a small southern town with very deep roots in the past, in particular the civil war past. While there are many references to the civil war, and the authors are very accomplished at showing the obsessiveness of small town civil war re-enactments and their ties to the past, in no way is this novel historical in the usual sense of historical novels. The authors weave the stories of the civil war into their plot very seamlessly and while the civil war does play an important role in the development of events in the present, that's all it does play. My history of the civil war is not very fresh and I did learn some interesting tidbits that I didn't know before, but a lot of it was for interest's sake and to weave the characters and the plot together.
The plot itself was not that unusual. While the plot was interesting and fun to read, with plenty of twists and turns, I didn't find anything in it that stood out from other novels that I had read. What did stand out for me was the characters and the characters' development. In that area, the authors were fantastic. I really think that character development can often make or break a novel, but in this novel the characters were unique and remained true to themselves throughout. The dialogue was interesting and fun to read, the characters were often quirky, and some characters did surprising things that made the book even more fascinating to read. I especially loved Ridley, Lena's cousin, who was such an interesting character. She has such aspects of evil and compassion to her that I didn't know whether to like her or hate her. I also developed a fondness for Uncle Macon, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out who he was and what his role was in this novel. I found the characters to be quite fascinating and I loved trying to figure out all of their roles and how they figured in the events that were swirling around Lena and Ethan.
Lena and Ethan's relationship was also something that I found beautiful in Beautiful Creatures. It all began so slowly and developed into a loving relationship without all of the teen angst that you see in so many other young adult novels. They had real conversations and respected each other very much. I also liked that the novel was in Ethan's point of view, which gave it an unusual twist. I found myself really enjoying the male point of view to events that I know I would have looked at quite differently.
I definitely liked the paranormal aspect to this novel as well. Give me a huge mansion, dark secrets, a town that whispers about secret events, witches, spells, and other such things, and you've got one hooked reader. Wrap all of this around such fantastic character development and the way the authors tease you with small tidbits of information at a time about the events occurring in the novel, and I could hardly put it down at times. Give me secret tunnels, magic, dark mansions, and secrets anytime. All I needed was a ghost (should I talk about that too?) and you've got the makings of a story that I absolutely would love and did.
There is no question there will be a sequel. The way it was written towards the end definitely suggests that the book will continue. Because of this, I found the ending did not quite have the sense of closure that it could have and I was not completely satisfied. What is great is knowing that Ethan and Lena's story will continue.
This book was a treat to read and I truly enjoyed Lena and Ethan's adventures and their rush to discover the truth before time ran out. I am looking forward to the sequel and can't wait to discover more family secrets and treasures.