Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Summary: There were no surprises in Gatlin County. 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.
(Summary from book - Image from powells.com)

My Review: I'm always skeptical of books written by more than one author. I’m not sure why –but it just seems weird to me that a book could come out of the heads of several different people (never mind all the editors, etc. that get to stick their hands in it) and still be a success. Despite all that, I’d heard some really good things about Beautiful Creatures and decided I should probably put aside my prejudice and give it a try. I’m fairly glad I did.

Main characters, Ethan and Lena are drawn together by an unexplainable force. They can read each other’s thoughts and share each other’s dream—literally. Lena is counting down the days until she turns 16, when her fate will be decided for her, and she’ll belong to the Dark or the Light. Despite Lena’s warnings of futility, Ethan refuses to leave her and is determined to save her from the inevitable.

Right away this book had an ominous, slightly hypnotic quality and a deeply southern feel that carried me away to what I’ve always imagined the south to be like*—well, minus all the dark magic. The small town of Gatlin felt authentic, from its' suspicion of outsiders to its' Confederate pride, and was an unbelievable (yet entirely believable) setting for the mystical phenomenon found in this book.

While there were vast sections of this book that were extremely captivating, I still didn’t feel as completely connected to the story as I wanted to be. While it was refreshing to read from the male perspective, I wonder if that didn't contribute to the problem. There were times that I strayed to other books and read a few chapters in them before heading back to this one. I can’t quite explain the momentary detachment, since overall I felt this book was incredibly well written, with strong, intriguing characters and a creative (and, thankfully, vampire-less) plot. I imagine that someone with a longer attention span, or more time on their hands, would flip for it.
Overall, I felt this book was a solid YA fantasy—dark, but not too dark—and certainly full of surprises. There was enough of a conclusion to keep me from chucking the book across the room, but it definitely left things open for a sequel or series.

*I should point out I’m a north westerner and have never actually been to the southern states.

My rating: 4 Stars. As a special bonus, this book is pretty PG, which is a rare find in the YA genre nowadays.

Sum it up: Likely to be a huge hit with the YA crowd.


4 comments:

Curvy Jones said...

ooh this seems like a good one! I typically dont read fantasy but apparently a good story will take me to genres I've never heard of before, lol.

Thanks for your review!

KyleeJ said...

Thanks for the review! I'm adding Beautiful Creatures to my To-Read list.

Monica said...

Just finished reading this book - thanks to your review. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was written well and it kept me turning the pages without all the sexual tension found in SOME other books. Plain ol' enjoyable! Thanks for the review.

Mary Garcia said...

i read this one and the next one just a few months ago. You were right, it was a success! it´s not the typical fantasie'love narrative and that's what i like about it. I can tell you that two people can get along and join ideas greatly as for example i did with my college thesis partner.

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