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.
Details: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, 563 pages, 3.80 stars on Goodreads
My Thoughts: Beautiful Creatures was another book that I have ambivalent feelings for. The premise was certainly interesting. It didn't have a whole lot to separate it from other paranormal romances, but I did appreciate that the paranormally endowed love interest was female rather than male, that the POV was a guy, and that the whole magic system was fairly original. I also like the setting - instead of cardboard cut-out suburbs, this takes place in a small Southern town. I can't comment on how realistic the setting was as I live in a small Northern town, but it seemed to work well with the story.
The characters did bother me a bit. Lena seemed all right to me, but Ethan didn't sound like a guy. He sounded like a girl masquerading as a sixteen year old male. He paid a lot of attention to what Lena was wearing, spent quite a few pages describing the dresses and decorations at the dance, had zero lustful thoughts, and was disgusted by how other guys admired girls' bodies, not to mention how much he enjoys hanging out with his great-aunts. Even sweet, sensitive, smart guys act like guys.
I also didn't like their romance very much. It didn't feel like it developed organically - it was more like they recognized each other from their dreams, realized they were destined to be with each other, liked each other's appearance, and decided to be in love. My biggest problem with the paranormal romances I've read (not making any generalizations for all paranormal romances nor the genre in general) is that the romance comes way too fast, and it never feels like a real romance. It's so full of "we can't be doing this, this is forbidden, but I love you with an intensity beyond my years and I can't possibly give you up" that there's none of the sweetness or the sensitivity of a teen romance.
Beautiful Creatures was a long read that felt longer than it should have. I feel like there was a lot of potential but it wasn't executed as well as it could have been. It's not to say this book was all bad - the minor characters were fun and original and intriguing for the most part, and this was more unique than other paranormal romances I've read, but this wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. If you love the genre, then I do recommend you read it, but otherwise, it's probably not worth it.
Plot - 3/5
Characters - 2.5/5
Writing - 3/5
Impact - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5
Overall - 50% = C