Monday, December 21, 2009

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 561 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: Friday, December 11, 2009
Finished: Monday, December 21, 2009

From the inside cover:
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
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 picked this up in early December while I was book-shopping for my nephew's Christmas presents, and remembered that people were talking about this book and saying it was "going to be the new Stephenie Meyer". That normally would have put me off this book forever, but then I saw some people's first impressions (good ones) and decided to give this one a go. This book is quite long, almost 600 pages, which is why I took a little longer to finish it; but in the end I was quite happy with it.

Ethan Wate hates where he lives. The small-town mentality is starting to get to him, especially since his mother passed away and his father became a shut-in. Just when he thinks nothing will change in Gatlin, South Carolina, a new girl comes to school. Lena Duchannes, the niece of Old Man Ravenwood, is officially off-limits to everyone. Her uncle's rumoured to be a bit psycho, plus she's "not one of them" (gotta love small-town mentality). Ethan however, is inexplicably attracted to her (and not just in a love/lust way), and decides early on to choose the outsider over the rest of the town, no matter what the consequences. It's a cool little story complete with Casters (spell casters), magic, and star-crossed love.

Things I loved: a supernatural story told from the male's point of view instead of the female's, the fact that the girl is the one with said supernatural power, the Southern small town location, all the To Kill a Mockingbird references, Amma, and all the family trees.

I loved Ethan's narration, he's very real and very relatable as a character. Lena is very down-to earth, smart, and stands by her opinions (though she is slightly confused about some things). Amma, the Wate family's housekeeper and practically Ethan's grandmother, is a riot. I would read this book again just for Amma. Macon is a character I also loved, simply because he exceeded my expectations. Even the secondary characters are great simply because they exude that Southern feeling about them.

The plot's nothing to write home about. Perhaps it's because I watched a lot of Japanese anime in my university years and plot lines about forbidden love and (spoiler alert) reincarnated love/history repeating itself are so common that this just seems like another one of those types of stories. But although I felt the plot wasn't stellar, the details made it worth it. Lena's poetry, the flashbacks of the historical characters, the family trees; you can tell a lot of thought and love went into the creation of this book. I can't give away more about the plot without going into spoilers, so I'll leave it at that. Hopefully there will be a second book so we get to see what happens after the events at the end of the novel.

If you're ready for a supernatural romance where both the male and the female characters are sympathetically portrayed and you don't feel like yelling at them while you read (if you're the type to yell at characters like I do), then read this. If you want a story in a different setting with a lot of atmosphere, then definitely read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
I really like this cover. Could be because I'm a sucker for all things shimmery, as well as purple (purple is an under-represented colour in book covers), but I really like it. The images of the trees shine in the light and add to the feel of the book. The script of the title is lovely, very bubbling and flowing.

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