We are introduced to a young Ethan Wate who's been living in the small southern town of Gatlin all his life. He’s been counting the days when he’s finally able to leave... that is, until he’s haunted in his dreams by a beautiful girl he’s never even met. Then there’s the new girl Lena Duchannes who’s struggling to hide her magical abilities and the curse which never left her family for generations. Weirdly enough, Ethan feels a pull towards Lena and thus, becomes determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
I can tell you that Beautiful Creatures isn’t the next Harry Potter no matter how magically captivating this book can seem at times-- because, for crying out loud, it’s Harry-freakin’-Potter and that’s not just something you can replicate the success of. And some of the more upbeat reviews on this book had me a little worried... largely franchised YA books set the bar so high in the market, and when you have something compared to so highly regarded you let yourself expect so much. And no one-- and I mean no one-- likes a let down.
Beautiful Creatures is a collaborative effort between Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which, from experience, trying writing collabs can be super tough so I offer them my kudos for that. The thing about writing story collabs is that sometimes it can be hard trying to balance between the tones because, after all, it’s two totally different people with two totally different literary styles. And the way they blended them together in Beautiful Creatures was a bit, say, unbalanced? Not saying it was bad because they’re both individually talented in their own ways of course, but how they even out their writing together was clearly, well... was uneven. Sometimes, I even found myself going “Wait, what the huh?” because I was just little confused at some scenes and had to re-read at some parts, too.
Again, I have to say that Beautiful Creatures is set in a fictional Southern town called Gatlin. I’m not from the South but the ideas and opinions of some of its people are a little outdated, especially considering that Beautiful Creatures is set in this modern day and age. At times, I thought some of the events happening around Gatlin just seem way too old-fashioned to even happen in the 21st century. Could it? I mean, I had gotten this total old South vibe from the book and just felt like a super different portrayal of what it’s like in modern day, and more like the 20th (and more past) century ideals.
And in addition to this, maybe I probably should’ve been expecting it, but YES-- there is a bit of instalove. The romance feels flat-out rushed to me from the start. Okay, don’t get me wrong the romance between the two main leads kept my interest-- and if it probably weren’t for my own curiosity for finding out why the two were so connected, I would’ve put the book down to begin with because for a greater half of the book (and that’s a almost three-hundred paged half) it was slow moving and I became bored. There wasn’t much happening to start, and while it had tender moments, it just wasn’t doing it for me. The action and best scenes probably don’t come to the very end of the book, and if you’re a moderate-paced reader like myself, then that’s reaaally a long time to wait.
Here’s the bottom line: I liked it. Just liked it. I can’t say that I uberly-enjoyed it because some parts I felt as if the plot wasn’t really going anywhere, and this just made it really hard for me to feel as good about it. Okay, yeah, it does have its “awww” moments and just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the action too, and the mystery behind all the characters are just that interesting enough to keep me reading. If you’re a reader in a fast lane and just love fast-paced novels, then I can’t say this will be a big hit-- because, as I mentioned before, it kind of begins on the--meeeeh--slowish side. I liked it enough to recommend it at least, but only to those who truly, truly like the genre and if you’re that willing to tread through a nearly 600-paged novel.