Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Beautiful Creatures

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Goodreads synopsis: There were no surprises in GatlinCounty.
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 have mixed feelings about this book. I'll start with the positive. The story was very unique and compelling, there were a lot of wonderful background characters, the setting was great. My favorite aspect of Beautiful Creatures was the dark and mysterious southern gothic feel to it, the scenery, the overall "feel" of the south was beautifully expressed in every chapter. Both the mysterious air of the cypress and magnolia filled landscape as well as the small town snobbish nature of some places in the deep south were presented in a way that really makes the reader feel a part of the story.

The magic of the casters was also really interesting, each caster having their own individual powers that each used in their own unique way. Some of my favorite characters were Lena’s Uncle Macon who I couldn’t decide whether I actually liked him or not through more than half of the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him. Amma, Ethan’s housekeeper/surrogate mother, who is a force to be reckoned with, was so entertaining. Quick to defend Ethan, she was just as quick to put him in his place when he didn’t do as she said. Amma was as quick with her words as she was with her actions when she felt her boy was threatened. And Ethan’s 3 great aunts were wonderful. They were quirky and dramatic, and altogether entertaining.

Where Beautiful Creature missed with me is that I felt like there were some inconsistencies in some of the characters actions as well as in the flow of the plot. Its hard for me to explain without giving away key plot points but there were several points where I felt the actions and decisions a character made didn't fit with their personality as it was presented up to that time. Sometimes I felt the plot jumped around a bit and it took me a minute to understand what was going on and why. Also, there was a bit much on the teen angsty "I can't go on living without you" thing. The relationship between Ethan and Lena reminded me of a reverse kind of Twilight, where the guy was obsessively in love for no apparent reason right from the beginning.

All of that being said, I enjoyed the story overall. I think that most fans of YA would also enjoy this novel and anyone who, like me, likes fiction based in the south will appreciate the southern gothic nature of Beautiful Creatures. 

Rating 3: I liked it


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