It took me three days of sneaking around, reading at stop lights, in-between classes, and going to bed early to devour Beautiful Creatures, and I enjoyed every tidbit of the debut novel by friends Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Set in Gatlin County, South Carolina, the rich history and tradition of the South is its own character within the novel. Ethan Wate and nearly every traceable member of his family tree have lived in Gatlin, and as far as Ethan is concerned, the last interesting event to sweep through Gatlin was the Civil War. That is until Lena Duchannes moves in to Gatlin to live with her Uncle, the town hermit. Lena is beautiful, different, and an immediate outcast in the close-knit (and close-minded) town of Gatlin. Ethan is immediately drawn to her, not really understanding why he feels the need to get to know her better. He is willing to risk his status as the the star athlete and big-man-on-campus to associate with Lena, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. As Ethan becomes closer to Lena, he soon discovers that Lena's differences from other girls her age may be unexplainable and the stuff of myth and legend. Ethan is risking more than popularity in his pursuit of Lena and his need to uncover the mysteries that have been hovering like a cloud over Lena and her family for centuries.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had read reviews that called this novel the next 'Twilight Series', and after I got over the fact that this book is NOT like Twilight, I was able to process the novel on a different level and allow myself to form an honest opinion. I HATE IT WHEN PUBLISHERS COMPARE YA FICTION TO THE TWILIGHT SAGA. Not only does it set the book up for unintentionally disappointment, but it cheapens the Twilight Saga in the process. No wonder so many people are sick of hearing about Twilight! Marketing agents need to quit peddling the Twilight name for other books. It's not fair to young adult fiction and makes it seem like the only thing teens will read has to have TWILIGHT stamped across the cover. Ugh. Talk about beating a dead horse...or undead (ha!)...nevermind.
Beautiful Creatures explored the realms of (dare I say) witchcraft and Southern-style voodoo that have been thrown together into a big mixing bowl with a dash of superstition, and a tablespoon of tradition. I'm interested to see where Garcia and Stohl take the next installment of BC, and whether Ethan and Lena can deepen their relationship in ways that do not involve them overcoming prejudice from their peers or battles with Dark members of the family tree. Just a suggestion, Kami and Margaret, but can we see them have a little fun? Maybe a bit more light-hearted, teenage interaction that allows us to see the good side of their tumultuous relationship, because after so much strife and problems, I start to wonder what the point of being together is if they are never ENJOYING each other's company. Other than that obstacle, the book as a whole was a fabulous find! I loved the writing style of Garcia and Stohl, and the fact that it was told from Ethan's perspective gave readers a refreshing break from drippy, teen, female narrators. I think I have a new series to obsess over...at least until Eclipse is out, or the new Sookie Stackhouse book hits the shelves!