Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: read in December, 2009; copy purchased for my school library

Description from GoodReads:

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 love, love, love Beautiful Creatures.  I feel like this book was a gift from the authors.  I started reading it last Tuesday night, and Wednesday was when my heart was turned inside out with the news of Jake’s cancer.  Over the next several days, Beautiful Creatures got me through; whenever life was too much, I could lose myself in this book.  When a book isn’t strong enough, if I try to distract myself with it, I’ll only find myself reading a paragraph over and over while I obsess over whatever is upsetting me.  This book carried me away.  I’m going to try to avoid spoiling the details because it is worth going on the journey to discover them yourself.

Gatlin is a character of its own in Beautiful Creatures.  If you are familiar with the south, you will immediately recognize it.  If you aren’t familiar with the south, Garcia and Stohl remove any obstacles that might prevent you from seeing it.  There are two sides to Gatlin, and I loved learning about the history of both – how they intermingle and how they remain separate.

The book is written from Ethan’s point-of-view.  Ethan is a fairly typical high school guy: plays basketball, likes girls, eats a lot, has a best friend that he’s known almost forever.  He’s typical enough that the reader can relate to him, yet he is unique and solidly formed.  He recently suffered a loss in his family and is trying to cope.  He meets Lena, a new girl in school, and there is a connection between the two that neither can deny, yet they also do not understand.  Lena and her family are different from the others in Gatlin, despite her family’s deep connection to the town.  Differences are not always accepted in this town, which is something Ethan and Lena can’t ignore.

The authors have also created an awesome cast of characters, from the families than surround Ethan and Lena to the townspeople.  Whether it is a major character, like Lena’s uncle, or a minor character like Fatty, the cop who likes to bust high school students, each one is unique and memorable.

I love the way the plot builds.  It is detailed, but never messy.  I hung on every word to the last page, and was sad when it was over.  I love knowing that there is more to come, but I hate that I have to wait!

While I liked the way the relationship builds between Ethan and Lena, I do wonder if some readers will complain about a lack of passion.  I think it is a lot of personal preference – I always seem to prefer relationships that build over time and work towards a deep passion and love, but I know some want the instant heat and crazy passion.

This is one of the best books I have read this year.  I can’t wait to recommend it to anyone who will listen.

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4 Comments

Filed under review, young adult lit

4 responses to “Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

  1. I also loved, loved, loved this book. Everything about it was wonderful. The setting, the characters, the plot. It was just a really great, interesting read that never left me wondering why or getting bored. I can’t believe we have to wait another year for the second book.

  2. Pingback: Top Ten 2009 books « Dog-eared and Well-read

  3. Pingback: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl « Dog-eared and Well-read

  4. i love the cover of the book it just grabs me and pulls me into it it is an amazing book that i would read 100 times i had the time to do it!!!! if you have not read it before i suggest that you do.

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