Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
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.
Synopsis from Goodreads.
So, I jumped on the bandwagon at last! This is one of those books that actually lived up to the hype. For me, anyway. It has received it's fair share of negative reviews, and I can see how this book is not for everybody. At least it was a perfect fit for me.
First impressions are important. We all know it, or else why would be dress your best for a job interview? In this case, the book's shiny jacket lured me in from the first. It's dark and mysterious, and whispers to me about shadows and magic. Yup, I freely admit to judging the book by its cover. Don't try to tell me you've never done it.
It's a good thing I had decided that I was going to love it, based purely on the cover, or else I may have let my judgement sway at the beginning of the book. It has a weak first few chapters, where I had a really hard time connecting with the characters. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the MC was a boy. This ended up actually gaining a little of my respect for the authors. Most YA books written by female authors would have a teen girl as the protagonist. Choosing Ethan's POV is such a brave choice, and in this case, the best one they could have made. Lena's voice would have made for a very different story, no doubt.
Ethan started out as one-dimensional, and unrealistic. He's having recurring dreams about a mystery girl, and wakes up with his bed full of dirt. But that doesn't seem to bother him. Shortly after meeting Lena, he starts hearing her voice inside his head. He barely blinks. Luckily, the writing was excellent, so I kept going and the book seems to hit its stride after a hundred pages or so. From then on, the characters dug themselves in for the long haul. There was no possible way I was putting the book down.
There is a HUGE cast of secondary characters that will keep you reeling. Between the bullying cliques at school, and the zany extended family of both Lena and Ethan, I was amazed that I never actually had trouble remembering who any of them were. A sign of a great writer (or two, in this case). I found that I really wanted to see more of Amma, Ethan's pseudo mom, and of Macon, Lena's uncle. There is so much back story going on that I never had the chance to figure out. And, of course, there is this mysterious evil they keep dropping hints about. This evil is so removed from the story that when it finally rears its head, I wasn't the least bit creeped. I'm hoping the sequel will bring me answers, and uber evil.
What? A sequel....? Not just one, but four more books? And they are all just as thick as this one? I almost wish that there weren't any more books in the series. This would have been a powerful standalone novel, but now I feel obligated to read the rest. I don't see how they can possibly live up to this one, but I will at the very least give them a shot. My arms will be massive from all that weight lifting! Who says reading can't be exercise?
Overall: Awesome writing skillz, flush characters, with a promise for more evil.
Would I recommend it? Hellz yeah! (But only to the right person)
Will I read the sequel? Indubitably.
Will I watch the movie? Front row, center. (This is just a saying. The front row, in actuality, is just about the crappiest place you could possibly sit. I'll probably be found in the middle somewhere)