Publisher: Little Brown Books
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 know that Kelly M. and Kristin have already been over these roads, but I legitimately just read the book (and hadn't heard of it until I saw the stunning trailer on Breaking Dawn) and thought I'd go ahead and give my take on it in celebration of the movie release.
To begin: 5 stars. Why? Because I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to pick it up and read it in the middle of my workday, as I waited in line for things. I thought about it, thought about the characters and the world and the concepts even when I wasn't reading it. Was I totally 100% blown away? No. The prose didn't make me swoon or sit back in awe. It made me laugh but didn't move me to tears. There were bits I thought were somewhat overdone or repetitive (dream sequences, anyone?), but I simply couldn't rate anything that engaged me this much as anything less than a 5.
I love Lena--the outsider who wants to belong but isn't willing to compromise who she is in order to fit in. She reaches out to that misfit, teenage part of me that makes her easy to identify with. Her strength, her intelligence, her vulnerability--I just want to follow her story. And I love Ethan--his devotion, the fact he's real, and scared and still refuses to be scared away.
The setting is so strong, so real that it's effortless to fall into. The supporting characters are strong. The concepts of Casters and their world are, I feel, very original takes on a theme that has become very now and "in", to the point of losing the edges that made vampires and witches and magic so appealing. I feel like Beautiful Creatures brought back those edges and the darkness that I loved so much about these paranormal novels.
Is it perfect? A paragon of the witchy, paranormal novel? Maybe not. Is it compelling, and original and just fantastic? Yes. There are places where it's a little campy, a little unbalanced, but the strength of the overall story and characters more than make up for it. Five stars, and I'm dying to dive into the rest of the series.