Publisher/Year: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009
How I Got This: From my lovely public library
Why I Read It: I've heard so many great things about it, and I was in the mood for something gothic!
Rating: 5 Stars
"There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.At least, that's what I thought.Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.There was a girl.And in the end, there was a grave."
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.
Wow. Seriously. Just. Wow.
I'm going to apologize beforehand for the following review because it's going to contain A LOT of gushing. And probably A LOT of capitalization.
First thing's first. I NEED Beautiful Darkness. Right now. And I'm gonna stomp around and conjure up a Lena-esque storm until I get it. Okay, maybe not. But still. I'm dying to keep reading.
I've read some pretty good books in my day. There are good books, and then there are those books that just haunt you, for lack of better words. When I wasn't reading this, I wished that I was. I thought about the characters constantly. I pulled two near all-nighters just to keep reading. Even today, when I was browsing books in Target, I found myself with a copy of Beautiful Creatures reading where I had left off, while my library copy sat waiting for me in the car.
There were just so many things that I loved about this book. This book was unlike anything I had ever read. I honestly don't think I'd be able to explain what this book is about to anyone. It's different and complex, and it takes a lot of background and explaining to get the reader where they need to be, but the journey is completely worth it.
Above all else, the thing that blew me away with this book was the writing. One night, as I was reading the first half of the book, I had stayed up until about 3:30 in the morning. When I finally stopped and put the book down, I let out this huge exhale. I hadn't even realized that I was holding my breath. I wanted to run out into the streets and find every person who claims that YA is "dumb" or "simplistic" or "inferior" or "below them" and push a copy of this book into their hands. The writing is just THAT good. The story had a very Gothic feel, and at times, the writing became eerie and creepy. It was perfect--totally put me in the proper mood for this story. Garcia and Stohl painted this excellent picture of the South. I wasthere. Even the dialect was spot on. I think it's completely amazing how, for being a book written by two people, the writing was seamless. There was never a point when I thought that I was reading two separate voices. It's hard to believe that this was written by two people.
I also particularly loved that this story was narrated by a guy. Maybe I just haven't read enough YA to know, but I feel like this is something that's sort of unique. I thought it was really cool. I loved Ethan. He's just this average guy who feels stuck in a small town. He reads. I mean, that won me over from the start. I think having Ethan narrate the story just worked so well, for the same reason why the first Harry Potter novel worked so well. We are learning about this other world at the same pace as Ethan, which makes it so much more believable.
The characterization is completely strong in this novel, too. This is a cast of characters that I won't soon forget. Poor Lena can't catch a break, but I really felt for her. I mean, who hasn't been there? The outsider wanting to fit in. I loved that she was this intelligent girl in a sea of bimbos, and I was so glad that Ethan finally had someone on his level. Link was another good character. I loved how goofy and yet loyal he was. Uncle Macon and Amma. Oh, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. There is one scene towards the latter half of the novel (during the Disciplinary Committee) where I wanted so badly to jump into the novel's pages and give Uncle Macon a big ole hug. Even some of the minor characters like the vile Mrs. Lincoln and the lovely Marian had distinct personalities.
For those of you who love the plot of a novel, Beautiful Creatures fails to disappoint. I was hooked into this storyline. To be honest, at first, I wasn't sure where the story was going. The beginning contains a lot of background info on the story of Gatlin and how the people in the town interact, which sounds kind of boring (but isn't). It's essential to understanding the story. For being a chunkster of a novel (at close to 600 pages), I felt like I flew through it. I definitely could have read this in a whole day, if I didn't need to sleep. Or eat. Or do anything else. There were times when I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages, and then there were times when I could put the book down for a little bit. There were lulls in the story line, but they weren't bad. It was more like reading along knowing that even though nothing big was happening at the moment, it was bound to sooner or later, so it was still a hard time putting the book down.
Overall, this was an incredible book, and one I know I won't soon forget. This is Young Adult fiction at it's best, and for all the nay-sayers out there, I recommend giving this a try. For those who love and cherish the genre, you need to read this if you haven't already. I am dying for my library to get a copy of the next book so that I can keep reading!