Ethan Wate is a typical sixteen year old living in the small town of Gatlin, whose only claim to fame is its role in the American Civil War. He’s popular in school because he plays basketball and he’s currently the flavor of the year as far as news goes with the death of his mother from an accident. But Ethan yearns to get out of town as quickly as he can. He can’t take much more of the townspeople’s small-mindedness, nor his father’s zombie like state after his wife’s passing. But then, Ethan starts to dream about a girl, whom he keeps trying to save from danger. And then a dark haired stranger named Lena Duchannes comes into the town, and Ethan can’t help but feel drawn to her quiet beauty. When they find a locket in the ruins of an old plantation, their connection intensifies and they discover that they are bound together by a shared history and a curse that could ruin Lena’s future on her sixteenth birthday.
For a book with two authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, I must say that Beautiful Creatures, the first of a four-part series has great consistency. Collaborations don’t always work and sometimes feel forced but such is not the case with this book. It would seem that the authors put their head together to come up with a strong plot even before they wrote the book so each knew where to start where the other left off.
Beautiful Creatures, with over 500 pages, is by no means a short book, but readers will breeze through it, especially around halfway through because the story begins to intensify, as does the relationship between Ethan and Lena. More complications start to crop up with each revelation.
I liked that the book was quite complex, having more than one facet to uncover so while it is a gothic love story, it is also a mystery in its own right. It had layers, lots of it. It did not only rely on the Casting aspect, which would have already sold the book to millions of readers. Instead, it chose to incorporate some historical facts to blend them into the story. I am not very familiar with the great American wars, since I am not an American but its great to read about them in a contemporary style that is not so heavy or overly dire (wars have a tendency to be downers). I have no doubt that after reading this book, many readers will look for history books to counter check the facts and perhaps, in doing so, learn about the actual events , what truly went down during the war.
I also liked that the story was told from Ethan’s perspective, as most love stories are presented from the female standpoint. Its refreshing to have a love story told from the point of view of a guy, especially a teenager. It just seems no frills straight to the point yet at the same time endearing because of its honesty. In this sense, one can feel the chemistry of the two leads just by reading between the lines.
But more than the Romeo and Juliet angle with the Caster/Mortal storyline, I generally liked the book because it had genuinely relatable supporting characters like Link, Amma, Ridley and Macon.
While Beautiful Creatures basically followed the formula of YA novels before it like Twilight and Harry Potter or the Shadowland series, it stands out from the rest of the pack because it added something new to the equation – it mixed fantasy with facts, or rather worked the fictional story around actual events during the war so that instead of just being a book about magic, or vampires or zombies, the story becomes more rooted to reality. Another thing the book has going for is the unique flavor from the south that has been incorporated into the story which made it quite interesting.
All in all, I liked Beautiful Creatures a lot. Not only did it have cool cover art but the inside of the book is worth every minute spent reading it. I hope that the following books are just as good because I can’t wait to read them. I know, I’m a bit of a late fan of this series but I actually prefer having the saga completed before I read them because then, I won’t have to wait until the next book release. Highly recommended for history buffs and fans of gothic literature.