February 1, 2010

Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl) Review

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (December 1, 2009)
Hardcover: 563 pages
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. (Source)

I was first introduced to 'Beautiful Creatures' when I was reading it for the OBS Young Adult Book Club. It was a book that I had no clue about until it was dropped into my hands. While reading the first chapter I have to admit I was hesitant to see where this story was going with all of the southern flavor it possessed. Mind you, I am not inclined to Southern anything, being from the big bad North. But I had to smile at the character of Amma which I could picture as a character from any Southern movie beatin' down the youngins. That character was so well sculpted I knew I had to go on and see what this story was really about.

I wasn't surprised by the whole town of Gatlin and their cookie-cutter life that just repeated generation after generation (since I almost lived it myself). But I could sense the character progression of Ethan and how he might try (not purposefully) to break the mold and stir up some trouble. When I met Lena, all bets were off. I felt a connection with this outsider that who just wanted to fit in, no matter how much she just did not stand a chance. The fact that she wanted to fit in but in her own style was such a pleasure and so refreshing. Other stories of the 'new girl' changing her whole look and personality to fit in is a very old story, but this character was mesmerizing to read.

I enjoyed the development of the romantic relationship between Ethan and Lena because their fates were intertwined without them realizing it. They both saw into the past which quickly turned into their future and no matter how they tried to change it or stop it it still persisted to come true.

The minor characters in this novel were really remarkable. Each one had their own distinct personality that created a more realistic flavor to the story. I could pick out some girls who were exactly like Savannah and Emily in high school and also great friends like Link who made high school bearable. I have to say my favorite minor character was Ridley. She is so incredible fun and bewitching I couldn't wait to see what other trouble she would stir up.

Another great thing about this novel was the fact that it was written by two incredibly talented women who molded this story together without breaking rhythym or characters. I have never read a book where two people shared such a vision and executed it so perfectly. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for their next novel!

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