Beautiful Creatures

By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

From Goodreads:

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.

Was it my type?: Yes and no. There are parts to this story that I really adored. The idea of the Lunae Libri, the’ books of the moon’ library which sits right underneath the town’s nose, is just awesome. I love the idea of secret libraries in general, and also the idea of: There are things that could exist in this world which we’re just not perceptive enough to notice. I’m always drawn to this, which is probably why I love paranormal and fantasy so much. The Lunae Libri really makes me want to take a drive down to my local library here and see what secrets of the past it holds. I felt like this may have been an intention (however sideline) of the story, considering the trouble libraries are having, being appreciated, nowadays.

Another thing I enjoyed was the Southern setting, and how all the characters seemed to fit into it believably and nicely. Their prejudices, practices, family trees, holidays, outcasts. It was a nice departure to feel like I was truly experiencing, having lived in the Northeast my whole life.

And finally, it was a nice divergence, for me, to read from a male perspective. It seems I tend to gravitate toward the lady narrators much more often. Maybe it has to do with the amount of female narration books being published as compared to male narration in YA; I’m not sure. And though Ethan may have noticed/mentioned the details of women’s outfits a bit more than most guys I know, it was still a nice variation for me. A good reminder to not forget about the boys of YA.

The thing that holds me back from falling for the entire story is: Twilight. Twilight was one of the first YA books I read–aside from high school reading lists, and I actually liked it, as opposed to many I’ve seen/read about since. But the dynamic between Ethan and Lena just reminded me a bit too much of Edward and Bella. Except backwards. Boy narrator, dangerous girl. I feel like I would have liked the story better had it simply been a case of: discovering this book first. I liked both Ethan and Lena, but their–stay away from me, I’m dangerous, it’s impossible for us to be together–struggle just came across my radar a bit too close to having read Twilight.

Memorable bit(s):  As I mentioned above: I love that library. “Parts of the Lunae Libri are still uncharted. There are many things down here even I’ve never seen.” How cool is this concept?

Some of the imagery in the magical scenes was really fun to read.

“I didn’t see anyone I recognized, though the front hall was crowded with guests, flowing from room to room like ghosts at a haunted dinner party.  . . . I saw men in dark kilts and rough Gaelic robes, women in corseted gowns. Everything was black, wrapped in shadow. . . . Candles sputtered into flame in the corners of the room, and what seemed to be a translucent orchestra of strange musical instruments shifted in and out of focus, playing themselves . . .”

“The room was frozen, except it wasn’t. I was frozen. My father was frozen. His eyes were narrow, his lips rounded to form sounds that hadn’t had a chance to escape his lips. Still staring at the plateful of mashed potatoes, untouched. The Sisters, Aunt Caroline, and Marian were like statues. Even the air was perfectly still. The pendulum of the grandfather clock had stopped mid-swing.”

I really liked the quote from which I’m assuming the books gets its name: “Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.” I think it’s a powerful idea, and it fit perfectly into the threads of the story.

Recommendation: If you’re a paranormal fan, you’ll likely really appreciate the magic of this story, the multi-layered quality of its mystery, and experiencing a romance from a boy’s perspective is a nice perk.

Published: December 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

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