Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Sunday, April 22, 2012

Plot Summary:
Life for Ethan Wate is dismal. As the only "educated" person in Gatlin County (a tiny community in North Carolina), Ethan has very little in common with his classmates. Ethan is planning on leaving Gatlin the moment he graduates, but all the changes when Lena moves to town. As the niece of the resident weirdo, the students don't know what to think of her. Although she is a beautiful girl, most of Ethan's friends stay far away from her because of her family relations. Moreover, Lena is actually smart, talented, and powerful. For the last few months, Ethan has been haunted by nightmares where he is trying to save a girl with long black hair and green eyes. Ethan is convinced that this is the girl he is going to fall in love with, but he doesn't know her except for the way she smells: lemons and lavender. When he finally gets the courage to talk to Lena, he makes a shocking discovery: could this new girl in his dream? After a series of unfortunate events (i.e., a brutal thunderstorm, classroom windows shatter, etc.), Lena is starting to learn that there is something powerful growing within her and, for some strange reason, it is at its full capacity when she is with Ethan. However, Lena is about to turn sixteen years old and unlike the mortal sweet sixteen, she is bound to have a rather unsettling bitter sixteenth birthday where everything, and everyone, could disappear from her life forever. For Ethan, this is not an option and he willingly embarks on an adventure that could kill him.  

Critical Evaluation:
I have to say that I did not expect this story to be so darn good! I will admit that I was a little leery reading this story because of the Twilight-esque premise, but this is a very original story with a strong background and set of characters. Told through the eyes of a guy named Ethan, readers not only get to hear his own thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams, he is able to capture Lena's character as well. Although these two characters are very different (one is mortal, the other not of this world), they share a set of traits that make their companionship very endearing. I seriously love the fact that they both love to read. Contrary to what most think about teenage jocks, most of them are actually very down to earth and, in this case, Ethan has bigger goals in his life other than winning the state championship. However, Ethan has something that sets him apart from the rest of the citizens of Gatlin--he was raised by two brilliant adults who refused to raise him with a small town mentality. This story is set in a tiny town in South Carolina where they refuse to admit any fault, or guilt, about the Civil War.  Moreover, this town is also very resistant to change where anyone, or any idea, that challenges the status quo is instantly rejected. In many respects, like Lena, Ethan is very different from his classmates because of his upbringing and education (via his brilliant mother), which is what brings them together. I will also admit that I LOVED the fact that the Civil War story arc is the driving factor in the outcome of this story; the Civil War, in itself, is a piece of history, packed full of mystery and secrets that not only add to the drama of Lena's story, but enshrouds readers with a sense of amazement and fear.  Once readers start this book, they will not be able to stop. I can't wait for the next installment.

Information about the Author:
According to their website, Kami Garcia has an MA in education and taught in Washington, D.C. before moving to Los Angeles:
Kami grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in her journals. She has always been fascinated by the paranormal and believes in lots of things “normal” people don’t. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13” on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.
She was an artist and actually led fantasy book groups for children and teens. She is now a full-time author and is married with two children and two dogs

Margaret Stohl,  the co-writer of Beautiful Creatures, is actually a gaming goddess. After working with Activision (Activision Blizzard) and Westwood studios (Electronic Arts), she and her husband founded seven studios that eventually landed her a nomination as Most Innovative Game Design at the Game Developers Conference. Stohl earned her BA at Amherst College, where she won the Knox Prize for English Literature, and she earned her MA at Stanford University. She also has a doctorate in American Studies at Yale University. Stohl was also a teaching assistant in Romantic Poetry at Stanford and Film Studies at Yale. Amongst her scholastic accolades, she also attended a creative writing program at University of East Anglia and was mentored renewed Scottish poet, George MacBeth. Stohl absolutely loves to travel with her daughters and lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband, children, and beagles. Stohl is the author of forthcoming novel, Icons, due out in Spring 2013.

Teen Supernatural Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Beautiful Creatures:

Awards & Recognition:
  • William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist (2010)
  • NYPL Book for the Teen Age (2010)
  • YALSA Teens' Yop Ten Pick (2010)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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