*Waves* Long time, no see. Things have been a little crazy for me right now, which I why I haven't been blogging, but here we go again. :)
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: YA (paranormal)
Why I read it/how I found it: Saw a movie about it was coming out and had to read it.
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.
This book is really unique in the fact that it's a YA paranormal romance, but the BOY narrates it. That was very refreshing and I'm sure made it stand out when the authors were querying it. Ethan could feel like adult women writing from a teenage boy's perspective at times (like when he goes on about Southern architecture or when he explains he or his friend Link does something/thinks a certain way because they're boys). But it wasn't horrendous, just something I noticed.
Lena, his love interest, was pretty unique herself. She kept things important to her, but to others seemed like junk, on a necklace. Her struggle to fit in and yet not wanting to at the same time felt very raw and real for someone in high school, especially someone like her who never got to have a "normal" childhood.
Of course, being the star-crossed lovers that they are, it got a little tiring to hear them say:
"It's not right for you to be with me." (Lena)
"I don't care! I want to be with you!" (Ethan)
On...and on...and on. This book is 563 pages long. I feel like 1/4 of it is the two of them with this same conversation. Also, I think this book could've been slimmed down a bit. Extra scenes/incidences/details here and there. The plot didn't feel very concise to me. But in the end, there's a lot of twists and turns I didn't see coming, yet at the same time, the authors put clues in that guide you there. The climax is very thrilling, with just enough action, suspense, stakes, and emotion to top it off in the grand finale.
The paranormal elements, Lena and her family being "Casters" (witches, essentially, but don't call them that) was interesting and well-thought out, although I feel like the magical elements will come out more in the later books.
I have a feeling those in the South might not take to some of this here. Ethan felt very superior to those in his town, determined he wasn't "one of them." He had been raised by educated people, learning to speak right and look to more than what's in their town, Gatlin. The people of the town, besides the outcasts and educated, are judgmental, closed-minded, vindictive, and basically every negative aspect you can think of in a stereotypical Southern small town. Ethan talks about how because his mother didn't want to join the DAR or Ladies Auxilary, had been educated, vegetarian, and a liberal, she'd been treated poorly when she lived and even when she was dead. Which, for me, was surprising because one of the authors grew up in the South. It seems to me like she didn't have much warm, fuzzy feelings about the place she grew up in. While the town created conflict and antagonism, Ethan's smug attitude and his pre-judgement of the town didn't seem to reflect any of the good things about the South, either. I've never been to the South, but I guess I just hoped for something more than stereotypes that I'd seen before.
More information: This is the first in a series of four, with the last one to come out this October. The novel's website is here. Kami Garcia's website is here. Margaret Stohl's website is here. Warner Bro.'s is adapting Beautiful Creatures into a movie, and is currently filming.