|Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl|
December 1, 2009
Little, Brown, and Company
Source: Personal Audible Purchase
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.My Review:
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
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.
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 previously read this book, but wanted to re-read it before the movie comes out in February. I chose to go the audio route this time around, and am so glad that I did. I must say I really liked the narrator for this audiobook. He brought the accent to Ethan that I was hoping for. I'm a Californian, so I loved the Southern accents the narrator brought to the telling, because I'm terrible with making up accents on my own (they all end up sounding like a pathetic blend of British and Australian), so his were so much better. If anything, the audio-version is worth it if only to listen to the Three Sisters and their banter. To hear their scenes acted out was hilarious and brilliant. I couldn't help but laugh out loud. The audio-version also adds some of the sound effects described in the book (for example, rain and wind, objects breaking, etc.) as well as the songs from the book, which are actually sung by a separate artist. I plan to continue listening to this entire series on audio.
As for setting -- I love the lush, gothic, mysterious, small-town, Southern world that Garcia and Stohl created. They made me feel like I was right there in Ethan's world, in the midst of Gatlin County, with its eclectic mix of colorful characters. While the descriptions could be a bit repetitive at times (eg, numerous references to the War Between The States), I certainly got the picture of this town that Ethan grew up in, and how a simple act like Lena moving into town could quickly disrupt the stability and consistency these people had established. In addition to the small Southern town, you also get the Caster world and all its magical and mysterious glory. I loved getting wrapped up in both these worlds.
As for characters -- Our hero, Ethan, is a great guy. He's not the bad boy or the bully, which is a refreshing change in how boys can frequently be depicted in books. I have three sons, so I certainly hope there are more options for them out there than rebel, bully, or recluse. Our sidekick, Link, is the loyal best friend everyone wants, who always has your back. I really liked these two boys. Our heroine, Lena, is a bit of a mental case at times, but dealing with the pending doom of her Caster-hood and whether she'll go light or dark when she turns 16 - well, I think I might be a mental case too. I also loved all the secondary characters. There was such an eclectic mix, with people I liked and didn't care for, but all of them had depth. Oh, and I shall repeat, the three sisters are a riot.
As for storyline -- The pacing could be slow at times, but along with that I felt like I was really able to get a deep feeling and sense of what was going on. I feel like I can't go into a more profound description here because there's so much going on, with lots of spoiler potential, and you really have to appreciate the build-up of the story. But Garcia and Stohl do a great job of turning over stones just when you are in need of another answer to the many questions swirling around.
Bottomline: This is a great start to a series set in a mysterious world coupled with two people in love, but struggling with the age-old question of whether two people in love from different worlds can truly be together. This is a lengthy series for those who appreciate depth to your stories and characters. I took off a 1/2 star just for some minor repetition issues I had.