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.
Beautiful Creatures is a rich, atmospheric read. It is beautifully written and full of literary references. It contains a sometimes sweet, sometimes desperate romance. However, it did not knock me out of my socks (which are woollen and warm and were made by my grandma, thank you very much.)
While I definitely appreciated the beautiful descriptions and the almost lyrical writing, the attention to detail and the vivid painting of the setting, this also slowed the story down, making it hard for the plot to develop any momentum or suspense. Furthermore, the plot twists and action seemed poorly distributed. There is a heap of them in the last fifty pages, but hardly any in the preceding five-hundred.
What I liked about this book were, for one, the characters. They all have distinct personalities and I especially appreciated the well-developed secondary characters. What is more, almost all of them had their secrets, even the "good" ones, and therefore this book could mostly avoid the stereotypical good and evil clichés, painting its characters in shades of grey rather than only in black and white. I especially appreciated the authors' attention to the Southern dialects which gave all of the characters an authentic feel whenever they spoke.
A further thing I liked was the romance. I've heard many times that it is a textbook case of insta-love, and yes, while Ethan falls for Lena fairly quickly (okay, immediately) I thought the reasons behind this were well explained. Nothing ever changes in Gatlin, and Ethan feels like he doesn't fit in and he doesn't want to fit in, so obviously, when a beautiful, different girl arrives in town, he would immediately want to grasp this opportunity for change, for something different. I loved to see how they grew to depend on each other, how they cling to each other with a certain degree of desperation because they can be completely open with each other in a town full of secrets. They can be themselves around each other, which is what they both needed. But their romance is also sweet, as it tends to be with fifteen/sixteen-year-old protagonists. I thought their connection extended well beyond only physical attraction, and I loved to read about their companionship.
As far as plot goes, there are definitely a lot of secrets to be uncovered, but while a lot of hints are dropped, barely anything big ever happens throughout the book. As I stated in the beginning, I thought it lacked suspense and momentum in certain places, especially the beginning was slow. The book took its time setting up the atmosphere, which is nice, but simply left me bored sometimes.
All in all, a beautifully written, different YA novel with its own lore and lyrical beauty and a unique way of portraying magic.
My rating: ☆☆☆(☆)