Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
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 hardly ever start reading a book without first having some idea of what it is about. More often than not, the book’s cover and title do a good job of that, and if they don’t, the blurb at the back definitely will, and these factors determine whether or not I buy a book. That wasn’t the case for Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (first book of the Caster Chronicles). I’ve been seeing this book around but I didn’t pick it up because I couldn’t figure out what it was about. It was always shelved beside the other vampire young adult (YA) romance books, and I wasn’t in the mood to read another Twilight. The cover was beautiful, like its title, but neither told me what those “creatures” were. The blurb wasn’t enticing either – it still sounded too much like the other supernatural YA romances out there. I only picked it up when I heard that a sequel was coming (with an equally beautiful cover) and when I saw that almost all of the book blogs I followed were excited about it. I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Beautiful Creatures is narrated by Ethan Wate, who hails from Gatlin, a small Southern town where everyone knows everyone. His mom’s death caused his father to become a recluse who left him under the care of their superstitious housekeeper, Amma. Unknown to Amma, Ethan had been having strange dreams about a girl he had never met, dreams which left physical evidence even when he woke up – dirt on his bed, water around him, and even a song on his iPod. When Lena Duchannes moves into town, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her, even when all his friends were ostracizing her. Despite Lena’s attempts to push him away, Ethan presses on, determined to find out the connection between him and Lena, and maybe help her blend in. But in the town of Gatlin, it’s never easy to fit in, especially if you have a secret as big as Lena’s.
Vague, I know, but after I finished reading the book, I understood why the book’s summary wasn’t any more detailed: revealing any more would spoil the story. Beautiful Creatures has an excellent plot, one that even some of the most critical book bloggers praised. At first glance, the book seems like it’s the typical boy meets girl–with an added dose of superpowers–but it’s much more than that. While the romance is an integral part of the story, it wasn’t there just for the sake of having the characters fall in love, as it connected Ethan and Lena to their pasts. Underneath the romance is an intricate web of details: the social groups and hierarchy of the town, the history of the curse that links Ethan and Lena, and most of all, the supernatural world that lies under the unsuspecting eyes of Gatlin residents. Aiding the plot significantly was the setting: Gatlin is a living, breathing setting that almost felt like another character – and perhaps it was. Garcia and Stohl definitely took time to build this small town, complete with histories, eccentricities and secrets. It was almost as if the residents of Gatlin (save for Ethan, Lena and her family) were one entity being represented by different personas, united in one purpose: to drive away anything that tries to shake things up. Click here to read the rest of the review.
2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 54 out of 100 for 2010
My copy: ebook, $9.99 from Amazon Kindle Store
Cover image & Blurb: Goodreads