BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl [Review]

Beautiful Creatures

Even before Beautiful Creatures was published in December, the book was getting a ton of buzz and plenty of comparisons to Twilight. The fact that authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have already landed a movie deal grabbed people’s attention as well. These days, almost every YA book with paranormal themes is billed as “the next Twilight,” but I think Beautiful Creatures is one of the few books that live up to the hype. Star crossed lovers, an atmospheric setting, and interesting mythology combine to form a great read.

The story is about Ethan Wate, a popular basketball player who has lived in Gatlin, South Carolina his entire life, and Lena Duchannes, the mysterious new girl in school. Lena moved to town to live with her uncle, Macon Ravenwood, who never leaves his house and whom the locals think is crazy (Boo Radley references abound). Thanks to her uncle’s reputation and the nature of small towns, Lena becomes social kryptonite at school. Despite warnings from almost everyone to stay away from her, Ethan is drawn to Lena because she’s the girl who has been haunting his dreams for months. The story is told from Ethan’s perspective, making it different from most YA fiction. I don’t want to give too much away about what is going on with Lena, but she is powerful and it’s very cool.

Beautiful Creatures does a lot of things really well, but where it really excels is in the creation of an original magical world. In that sense, the book stands on its own and never feels stale. There’s a real sense of place thanks to the gothic, Southern setting and details like Civil War reenactments (excuse me, The War of Northern Aggression), southern belles, and long family histories. The authors capture what it’s like to grow up in a small town and I think a lot of people can relate to that, even if they’re not from the South.

It may be due to my age, but my favorite characters in Beautiful Creatures were the adults. Macon Ravenwood, the ultimate Southern gentleman, especially stood out as an intriguing character. I also loved Marian Ashcroft, the unfortunately named town librarian and lover of all things literary. As for Ethan and Lena, I thought they were endearing but occasionally annoying (much like real teenagers). Lena is spunkier than certain other YA heroines, but she is also a bit of a drama queen that is fond of moping in her bedroom. Their story reminded me of how much being a teenager could suck, but I think teen readers will identify with their angst.

Where the book falters, in my opinion, is the ending. After reading 500 pages of build up to Lena 16th birthday, my expectations were ridiculously high by the time the day finally arrived. Unfortunately, the ending seemed to be more about setting up the sequel than providing resolution to the central conflict, so I felt a little cheated.

Overall, I really enjoyed Beautiful Creatures and I highly recommend it to fans of YA paranormal romance. I especially recommend it to Twilight fans, with the warning that they might not find Ethan and Lena’s love story quite as compelling as that of Edward and Bella. Beautiful Creatures is the first in a planned 5 book series by Garcia and Stohl, and, like I mentioned earlier, the movie rights have already been sold.

Quotes from Beautiful Creatures:

There were only two kinds of people in our town. “The stupid and the stuck,” my father had affectionately classified our neighbors.

“You know what your mamma used to say. Any book is a Good Book, and wherever they keep the Good Book safe is also the House a the Lord.” – Amma

“I’m just the librarian. I can only give you the books. I can’t give you the answers.” -Marian the librarian

“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.” – Macon Ravenwood

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Little, Brown | Pages: 576 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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