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.
**Review is of the audio version of Beautiful Creatures**
The first thing I noticed about Beautiful Creatures was that the town it takes place in is called Gatlin, which immediately made me think of the book/movie Children of the Corn. I’m sure it was a total coincidence but it just put me in a creepy frame of mind right from the get-go. Plus, as I have said before, small towns = automatic creep factor.
Outlander! We have your woman!
The authors did a really good job of giving the book a Gothic old south feel. Or at least what I imagine the Gothic old south would feel like, having spent the vast majority of my life firmly north of the Mason-Dixon line. If there is actually a Gatlin, SC the residents might want to consider suing the authors, though, because they make them all sound like a bunch of absolutely terrible, vindictive, small-minded people. There is also a healthy sprinkling of tremendously overzealous mean girls and a mom who makes Carrie White’s mother (two Stephen King references in two paragraphs, yahtzee!) look open-minded by comparison.
The guy who narrates the book is really good. He doesn’t sound like a teenager by any means but that doesn’t really bother me. I’m not a teenager, so that probably contributes to why it doesn’t bother me. It didn’t do much to change my tendency to picture characters in YA books as older than they are, but whatever. I also thought it was interesting that they put in some theatrical touches as opposed to just reading the book straight. There are sound effects, music, etc. They really made Ethan’s dreams – which are a big part of the story – stand out and easy to separate from his reality. I do have to confess that I wasn’t a fan of the music that they used. In fact, I really disliked it, and it got stuck in my head on a continuous loop which made me dislike it even more. And now it’s stuck in my head while I’m writing the review. Balls.
I have to say that I really enjoyed it that for most of the book Ethan refers to Lena as “the girl I like” rather than “the girl I love” and by the time it crossed over into love they had been together for six months or so. I truly don’t mean to sound condescending here, but when YA books constantly have 15 year old characters raving about how “in love” they are with other 15 year old characters who they barely know, I give my eyes a big old roll. And I give my eyes the same roll when characters twice that old do it. So I definitely liked how the romance was done in this book – the characters start off not liking or trusting one another and build slowly up to more. Hooray!
I found myself surprisingly sad when I got to the end of the book. I had gotten more attached to the characters than I realized, I guess. That said, I found the ending to be a little…I don’t know what word to use here. A bit of a cop-out, maybe. Or a convenient way to make for a sequel. Not that I didn’t like it, necessarily, it was just a little “well, everything is resolved but hey wait, nothing is really resolved so let’s do it all over again.” It seems like it might make for a repetitive second book but it would be unfair of me to say that definitively since I haven’t read it yet, so I’ll just stay in wait and see mode. The ending did knock my rating down just slightly, but I still definitely liked it a lot.