Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Summary from Amazon.com

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 give this book 3 stars
 
I’ve been wanting to read Beautiful Creatures for a while now and finally broke down and bought it.

The setting of the story is in Gatlin, South Carolina. I love the opening line. Kami and Margaret did a wonderful job hooking the reader.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate was the main character in this story, told in his point-of-view. I liked his character because he was a good person. His mom had recently died and I felt bad for him because his heart ached for her.

The story began with Ethan having dreams about a girl. He was free falling in the air, in a black hole made of mud. A girl called to him, falling as well. Ethan clawed at the mud, trying to catch her, but she slipped through his fingers. He could smell her: lemons and rosemary. And he felt like he couldn’t live without her. When he awoke with a start, a weird song played on his iPod. The lyrics started out as sixteen moons and sixteen years. He thought he’d heard it before, though, he didn’t know where. When he yanked the covers back, he discovered dirt in his bed, and his finger nails were caked with mud, just like the last time he had the dream. Of course, he stripped his bed and stuffed the dirty linen in a hamper to hide it from Amma.

Amma was the housekeeper who not only helped raise Ethan but his dad as well. She was the authority figure in the household and one of my favorite characters. Think aunt Be with a southern attitude, superstitious, and a Seer. Amma made charms and would stick them in the windowsills to ward off evil spirits. She made little dolls and placed them in drawers. She also did tarot card readings. So it took me by surprise when she didn’t question the dirty sheets, and Ethan wasn’t freaked out enough about his dream to have shared it with Amma, knowing she would have believed him. But as a reader, curious about the overall story, I overlooked it.

Link (Wesley Jefferson Lincoln) was Ethan’s best friend. I liked his character as well. He was a true friend and always had Ethan’s back.

As the story rolled forward, I became annoyed with the repetition of Ethan saying nothing ever changed in Gatlin and how he desperately wanted to leave. Mentioning it once was enough. Twice, I could pardon it. But three or more times . . . nerve grating.

Lena Duchannes was the new girl, the girl in Ethan’s dreams, smelling of lemons and rosemary. She stuck out like a sore thumb among their classmates. Gatlin rarely had new comers in their small town, which automatically made her an outcast. She wore the wrong clothes and was Old Man Macon Ravenwood’s (the town’s recluse who lived in Gatlins’ oldest plantation) niece. She drove a hearse, adding to her  reputation as being the niece of the town’s freak. But despite his peers shunning Lena, Ethan found himself drawn to her. While at school, Ethan heard her play on a violin the same song he heard on his iPod, and he smelled lemon and rosemary. He knew then Lena was the girl in his dreams. Not only that, they suddenly were able to talk to each other telepathically ( kelting–an unspoken word of communication), which I thought added a cool twist to the story.

Ethan and Lena hooked up. Of course, she tried to push him away several times, using mysterious excuses on why Ethan would be better off without her. But he wouldn’t give up on her, and then finally Lena opened herself and her world to him.

She was a Caster (a.k.a. witch). On her sixteenth birthday, under the moon, there would be a Claiming. Her family was cursed, and Lena could turn dark or light on that fateful night. Her path would be chosen for her. If she turned dark, she’d become a different person. Turning into a heartless, evil person was what Lena feared the most, so she and Ethan went searching for answers on how to break the curse.

As the story progressed, so did the enchanting world of Lena’s life. I found it distracting because there was too much magic going on. It reminded me of watching a movie overwhelmed with special effects, stealing the heart of the story. Also, Lena’s cousin, Ridley, who was dark, had me rolling my eyes. Not because her character was under developed. Kami and Margaret did a fine job creating Ridley’s character. However, I thought it was cheesy Ridley would carry a red lollipop with her and ever time she would lick and suck it, mortals would do her bidding. But other than that, she was a great addition to the cast.

I didn’t care for how some of the scenes were cut short, as if you were talking to somebody on a cell phone, and then the line would disconnect in the middle of the conversation. And then there were other scenes that bled together and became sort of confusing. I think they should have been given their own stage to shine. Or, flowed together more smoothly.

But despite those flaws, I think this was a good story for being Kami and Margaret’s first novel. And although this 563-page book could have been shorter, I appreciated the author’s hard work.

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