Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: 'Beautiful Creatures' by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter
 of the middle of nowhere... Turns out,  I couldn't have been more wrong. 
There was a curse. There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
I never even saw it coming.

'Beautiful Creatures' begins with an unoriginal premise, strange new teen moves into small town and the rumor mill begins to churn.  However, as soon as the reader meets Ethan and Lena, it is clear that this is a fresh conjuring of familiar themes.  The events are relayed to the reader primarily from Ethan's point of view, which is a nice change of pace from the majority of YA paranormal novels.

Ethan is a likable main character with enough emotional baggage to make him interested, but a personality that holds typical "emo teenage boyhood" at bay.  I quite enjoyed being in Ethan's head and watching the events of the novel unfold from behind his eyes.  Lena is a character with plenty of flaws, some controlled by her and others controlled by the secrets kept by her family.  Mrs. Lincoln makes a fabulous villain, convinced of her moral superiority and determined to "protect" the town of Gatlin from the "evil" of Lena Duchannes.  (On a side note, I'm very much looking forward to Emma Thompson's portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln.)

This novel falls more into the line of magical realism than full-blown paranormal/urban fantasy.  The supernatural elements are integral to the story but somehow don't seem beyond belief.  This easy suspension of disbelief may be due to the novel's setting.  'Beautiful Creatures' is set in a small Southern town where history runs deep, where the Civil War is still called the War of Northern Agression, and where Southern superstition thrives.  In such a setting, it is no stretch to believe that the town eccentric is actually a supernatural being from a family of the magically gifted.  Garcia and Stohl do a fabulous job of integrating aspects of small town life with elements of the paranormal to create a setting steeped in history, magic and tradition.

Themes of bigotry, judgement, fate, and redemption abound in 'Beautiful Creatures' which makes for a quite involved plot involving multiple storylines.  Past and present events collide to form a gripping climax that will leave readers with more questions than answers.  Since this is the first of a quartet, readers can expect more drama, action and mystery based in Gatlin.

Movie adaptation is due out in February 2013.

Book Source: Local Library
Reviewer: Rebecca

Recommended Ages: 14+ underage drinking, fantasy violence, profanity

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