This was the last of the three YA books I was talked into reading by some friends. “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl was the longest of the three, and the first to have the movie released (though it’s already gone from most theaters around here). I requested it from the library, and received a copy with the movie cover–including a fold out poster (ooo!). The poster makes me laugh, as it is two-sided, but only the background cha
Anyway, this is fantasy, set in the south (Gatlin, what a good name for a southern town). Probably because I’d seen movie previews on TV, I thought this book–like most of the YA I’ve read–was told from a female point of view. It’s not. So I was really confused for the first chapter. Once I figured that out, things started making more sense. It starts with Ethan commenting on how boring school is, how nothing ever changes in Gatlin, how he can’t wait to get out. Then the new girl moves in, and no one likes her. She’s weird, she’s different, she lives with the town recluse no one ever sees, she lives in the hause everyone thinks is haunted. And of course they eventually meet and fall in love.
No surprises yet.
Lena Duchannes (pronounced so it rhymes with rain, as they tell in about ten times in the book) is the mystery new girl, and there is something … different about her. Surprise! She’s a witch! (Well, technically, a Caster as is explained, but if we’re going with familiar terms, she’s a witch.) She’s confused because no one will tell her anything, she’s angry because she just wants to be a normal girl but never can be, and she’s scared because she’s falling for Ethan but knows they can’t be together. On her 16th birthday, Lena will be claimed as light or dark, and the countdown as started.
More characters from the town and family members of Lena’s appear as the book progresses, and you learn a lot about this little town of Gatlin that no human ever knew. There are a few interesting characters. I like Macon, Lena’s uncle, I like Amma, Ethan’s housekeeper/guardian (his mom died before the book starts and his dad is basically a hermit) and I like Mrs. Lincoln. But that last one might be because that character is played by Emma Thompson.
The book is a little long, and pretty predictable, but I like the southern setting and I like the light versus dark storyline. I do feel like the two main characters are pretty flat compared to some of the secondary characters. But maybe that’s because they’re 15-year-olds, whereas the interesting secondary characters are adults (and I’m 31, so …). You get to meet some family members who have gone dark, and I think they’re more complicated than just pure evil witches … err … Casters, which I enjoyed.
I’ve heard the movie is a lot different from the book (at more than 550 pages, that doesn’t surprise me), so if that bothers you, better read the book. If not, you can probably just watch the movie. (Emma Thompson!)