I know, I know. I am probably going to do a novelty-fuelled flurry of reviews and then do none for weeks on end. Not exactly disciplined…but I promise you that we will be writing between the intermittent posts, and perhaps you will see some extracts from our tireless labours here on the blog…
Today’s book is, as you have seen already, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It’s a YA novel, with immediately apparent romantic, supernatural and Gothic themes – not usually my style, but I was intrigued by the premise and the things I had heard about it. I admit I had picked it up before and put it down again; the blurb leans too heavily in the vampire direction, and that put me off, as one of those YA readers who hasn’t really fallen in love with the whole vampire obsession thing. When I did finally get around to taking the plunge, I realized that I had been misled. Yes, vampires – though that term is not strictly applied – do feature a little. Not as much as I thought they might though. The point is that if you’re not exactly thrilled at the idea of yet another novel that contains the fantastically supernatural but also the not-so-fantastic vampire
plague that has swept across the world, hang on a second
The story is told by the male character, Ethan. You know the inevitable features – romance. But Ethan’s perspective is an enjoyable one, and really I couldn’t imagine the book being told by any other character.
Ethan lives in Gatlin, a small town in South Carolina where nothing much happens, gossip spreads faster than the speed of light, and there are no secrets – or so it seems. Ethan attends Stonewall Jackson High School, where cliques and stereotypes rule, and anyone who knows anything falls into line and stays there. Ethan wants to escape – to escape from the people whose parents went to the school and whose children will probably go to the school; he wants to see the places he has read about in books. But college is two years away, and there are things binding him to Gatlin – it’s where his mother is buried, and where his family comes from. His determination usually outweighs the factors keeping him there, but they still lurk in the back of his
Of course we don’t have to wait until Ethan leaves Gatlin for the story to really start. Summer is over, school has restarted, and for the first time since fifth grade, a new student has joined Ethan’s year. A girl – Lena Duchannes.
Lena is completely different. Pale, wearing a necklace of seemingly worthless junk – mementos – and apparently not giving a damn about the silence and stares as she walks down the hallway.
Ethan can’t help but gravitate towards her, even as the other students at Jackson quickly judge, dismiss and condemn Lena. He’s crossing the line between normality and being an outsider. Because he knows there is something more to Lena, something more than being odd and a loner.
The story escalates from there. With the plots that run alongside; Ethan’s father’s continued deterioration since his wife’s death, the problems at school – there is a point, as Ethan notes, where, if it was a movie, he and Lena would sit at the jocks’ table and his friends would learn a valuable lesson, and everything would be fine…but that doesn’t happen, and soon Ethan is thrown from his former – tiny – life, and into Lena’s world. Lena becomes his world.
I was barely able to put this book down. At times things happen very fast – sometimes too fast, but that’s rare – while at others there is plenty of detail and the pace is slower. You will always try to guess the ending, but whether you are right or wrong, the journey there is captivating and very enjoyable to read.
It is filled with brilliant characters – Amma, the Sisters – although at times I found Ethan a bit unrealistic. I didn’t fall for him the way I have for some of his contemporaries in other books.
However, there are some scenes that I really loved, and I was never bored; this book is definitely worth reading, it’s satisfying and an excellent read if you’re looking for something to get your teeth into.
In less than five words|: supernatural, unputdownable, Gothic, great read
Thoughts on the cover: Wow. It's gorgeous - the design, the title font....the authors' names could have been bigger though.
((Holy Mackintosh, I wouldn't be able to do something like that...can see why the English proffessor's in love with her, can'tcha? ))