Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ethan Wate is stuck in a small South Carolina town, where nothing ever happens. While everyone around him seems to thrive on living a mundane life, Ethan dreams of getting out of Gatlin and experiencing more than Civil War reenactments, bake sales, and cotillions.
The first time Ethan lays eyes on Lena Duchannes, he knows everything in his boring world is about to change. Not only is she beautiful, but she is different from all the other girls in town. For a guy who’s had it with normalcy, Lena is the girl of his dreams in more ways than one.
Lena is an instant outcast with her funky wardrobe and her family ties to Gatlin’s resident hermit. Ethan is basically committing social suicide by choosing to hang out with her, but he is hopelessly attracted to the mystery that is Lena. His infatuation soon turns to love and lucky for him the feeling is mutual.
However, it isn’t long before Ethan learns the truth about Lena. There is a reason why she writes numbers on her hands and why it always seems to rain when she is upset. Lena is a Caster (a.k.a. witch) who is inching closer to her 16th birthday. Upon hitting this milestone, she will be Claimed for dark magic instead of light thanks to a longstanding family curse.
Lena’s fear of turning dark incites Ethan’s quest to find a way to release her from the curse. It turns out Gatlin is full of secrets both mortal and supernatural. At the center of it all, is an ordinary boy with more power than he realizes.
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s epic tale is a bit long, but where it lacks in editing, it excels in originality. In a market flooded with paranormal romance, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find YA fiction with unique characters and story lines. Beautiful Creatures breaks the mold by letting the story unfold through Ethan’s point of view. The male perspective puts a new spin on an old formula and it is so refreshing! Garcia and Stohl also deserve props for realistically portraying small-town life in the South. In particular, their references to various modes of prejudice are a sobering reminder that the past repeats itself more frequently than we like to admit.
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