Monday, February 25, 2013

Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (4 stars)

About Beautiful Creatures
(from Amazon)

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.


Ethan can't wait to leave Gatlin in the dust. His dad has been a recluse since his mom died, leaving nothing for him in the small town. The only excitement comes in the form of his dreams about a mystery girl. 

Lena Duchannes comes to Gatlin with a secret--a secret her powerful family is trying to protect her from, while trying to keep the town in the dark. Ethan recognizes her from his dreams, and they form and immediate and intense connection.

Lena has a choice to make, and time is running out. The day she turns 16, her powers will be claimed for either the light or the dark. Old Man Ravenwood, as the town refers to him, is Lena's protector; a man determined to deliver her to the light. But what sacrifices will he, and others, need to make along the way? Will Lena have any choice in the matter?

There's so much to love in this story, now a major motion picture: intriguing characters, paranormal twists, an endearing romance, and shock value. Plus, the story is told from Ethan's perspective, which I found quite refreshing. It was nice to see the romance from the boy's point of view. Although I loved Lena by the end, I wasn't sure what I thought of her in the beginning; she was a bit broody for me. But I commend the authors for the slow unraveling of the plot and characters. It was like eating a pastry and enjoying every single glorious layer of it. 

My best compliment... I already have Beautiful Darkness, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Lean and Ethan and to discover more about other family members, and all of their powers.

It's a solid 4-star read that moves toward a 5-star read by the end. I highly recommend it for YA paranormal fans, but also to fans of Southern fiction and darker tales. 

Rating: 4 stars

About the Authors
(from the Beautiful Creatures website)

Kami Garcia is a teacher and reading specialist with an MA in education, and leads book groups for children and teenagers. 

Margaret Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. 

They both live in Los Angeles, California, with their families. Beautiful Creatures is their debut novel.

Note: I also saw the movie and will have a review of that up soon. A slight warning on the movie for those who love the book--it's quite different. Reading the book first definitely affected my view of the movie.