Monday, April 5, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl


Ethan Wate has lived in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina all of his life. Same buildings, same people, same routine, just a different day. He can't wait to escape and discover the world outside the historic time capsule of his hometown. He just has to survive high school. Getting to school on time is challenging enough, but Ethan is also struggling with the recent death of his mother and his father's subsequent withdrawal from life. Then there are the strange dreams Ethan has been having of a beautiful girl which quickly deteriorate into nightmares where she slips through his fingers.

Lena Duchannes is the new girl at school. Not only does she live in a creepy plantation with her hermit  uncle and drive around in a hearse, but she's literally the girl of Ethan's dreams. Their connection is virtually instantaneous and devastating. Their families don't want them to be together, the entire school is treating Lena like an outcast, and even the residents of the town are on a bit of a witch hunt. They may not be far off the mark. Lena is not a normal girl, as Ethan quickly discovers. They say that love can conquer all, but there's no such thing as a sure thing.

If you're a fan of the Twilight series like I am, this book is for you. The books share a very similar story line, a human falling in love with a supernatural being in a small town with quirky characters. This writing team is very good at getting you to feel the emotions of this star-crossed couple. When they were angry, I was angry. When they were frustrated, I was frustrated. It's a rare achievement for a book since it does not have the visual cues that a movie has. I would have liked more detail on Lena's abilities and her family. It can get confusing at times since the authors created most of the supernatural elements from scratch which requires more explanation than a story about vampires. Sometimes I felt that explanation was lacking. At 563 pages, that's a minor complaint since the book already feels pretty complete. Give it a chance. You won't regret it.

BEST FEATURE: The town of Gatlin and its residents. They're hilarious. With their pronounced southern accents, Civil War re-enactments, and obsession with family trees, I would love to see a book that focused on them.

WORST FEATURE: The ending. Not a happy ending. Not an unhappy ending. I don't know if the authors are planning on a sequel, but I don't feel like I got closure with this one.

PARENTAL WARNING: violence and minor sexual content; appropriate for teens

MY RATING: 4 - a pleasant surprise. I'll be watching for new books by these authors.