Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures  by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Hatchette Group Books page
Authors' joint site
Official site for the series

Gatlin is a small southern town filled with small southern minds.  According to Ethan Wate's father there are two kinds of people in Gatlin, those who choose to stay and those who can't leave.  Ethan has plans to get out of Gatlin as soon as he can.  He's got college applications and brochures from all over the country and a map of his planned travels on his wall.  Until Lena moves in to Ravenwood Manor,  the local "haunted house." 

Lena is different from anyone Ethan has ever met. In fact, Lena and her whole family are different from anyone most people have met.  But, most of us aren't destined to be together, whether it's a good idea, or not.  Ethan has dreams that are so much more than dreams, considering that he wakes with remnants of the dreams in his bed and his body.  All of them revolve around a girl he's never seen in real life.  That is, until he practically runs her down in the road, right in his own town. The girl from his dreams, who shares those dreams, has finally appeared in his life.  

This is a standard YA paranormal romance, with the distinction of having a male narrator. We are so used to guessing at the male half of every relationship's thoughts and feelings.  It was kind of refreshing to see the other side.  And a little comforting to know that it's the same in a lot of ways.  Ethan falls for Lena and the two have an undeniable connection.  The physical connection that takes tingling excitement to a whole new level as well as the psychic connection with their shared dreams. They share a sense of loss and Lena introduces Ethan to the supernatural world he never realized was already a part of. 

Ethan's mom died in an accident not long before the story starts and he and his father are trying to cope. Ethan is doing a much better job.  He's lucky to have Amma, a grandmotherly figure who doesn't hide her abilities as a seer, and does a wonderful job raising him.  Lena is part of a different world, not totally a part of the mortal one, but overlapping in many places, of Casters.  In her world, children are not raised by their parents, but by other relatives. Lena has just come to live with her uncle, Macon at Ravenwood. She doesn't look like, think like, dress like the Gatlin girls and in such a small community, there is a price to be paid for this.  Lena, just wants to have a normal girl experience, but that is just not in the cards for her.  Between all the ways that normal girl is not in her makeup and the Confederate back water she's been sent to, the girl doesn't have a prayer.

As Lena's 16th birthday approaches, she worries for her future.  It's a significant landmark in the Caster world, when she finds out if she'll be Light or Dark.  Ethan can't conceive of the fact that she could be anything but light and Lena is terrified that she's destined for darkness.  The book is a countdown to Lena's sixteenth moon and the direction her life will take from that point.

I know it's not really high praise, but it's not a bad book.  Garcia and Stohl are much better with turn of phrase than Cassandra Clare. Not that it actually takes much.  I get that they were trying to showcase the southern dialect of the English language, but the "a" instead of "of" was unacceptable.  There has to be a better way to get that across than the authors have here. Other than that, my digital copy of this book was surprisingly typo and spelling error free.  I'm not sure how they turn books into ebooks, but they usually seem like they were part of an elementary school keyboarding class using old school word processors.

I musn't have hated the book, because I am almost finished the second in the series now.  I'm pretty sure something really amazing is going to have to happen for me to buy and read the third book.  I was never able to walk away from a series before, no matter how little I was enjoying it.  Now, I do it without any feelings of guilt or remorse at all.  

Here's a trailer for the book. I think I'm on the waiting list for the dvd from the library, because I can't leave well enough alone, I guess.

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