I was trying to decide which book to review today and realized I never talked about Beautiful Creatures apart from the first few lines!
Here, then, are my thoughts upon reading the first book of the Beautiful Creature series:
1. The setting is phenomenal. I feel like I know this town. Gatlin, South Carolina must be a a real place. Since I live in South Carolina, I was happily surprised at the authenticity of the novel's setting. Everything rang true to me, from the superstitions, pies, people, and small-town petty feuds. The muggy heat, the thunderstorms, the countryside...the landscape is impeccable.
2. The characters don't seem so much like characters as potential neighbors. Again, this could just be me, living in the South, but I also know people like this. Even though there's paranormal activity going on, even though some of these people aren't technically 100% human...these people are real, or at least they feel real. Even the teenagers are real, without being gross or risque (which I deeply appreciate, since I am squeamish when it comes to steamy scenes).
3. I loved the relationships between people. Ethan's heartbreaking relationship with his father, his humorous (and somewhat awed) relationship with Amma, his sweet relationship with Lena, and his dislike of the lives of the people around him. I can definitely identify with that last one.
4. The history presented in this book is a great middle-of-the-road view. It isn't anti-South, but it isn't exactly pro-North either. It presents the Civil War for what it was: a great tragedy in the history of our nation. Both sides suffered, in more ways than one. And some families haven't quite forgotten it.
5. My only nitpick is that there were so many words. I feel like there wasn't enough action to merit such a high word count (the book is enormous). I might be inclined to say it was because they had to ground the story in such a deeply complicated setting, but I've also just read a fantastic dystopian YA novel that had the bare minimum description and still managed to make me feel like I was there. So...I go back and forth about it. It only detracted slightly from my enjoyment of the story.
My favorite character right now is Lena. She's a very unique individual. I feel like we would get along. I feel like we have a lot in common (writing, keeping little things that we consider valuable, highly sensitive), even though she is vastly different from me (she has supernatural powers, which of course, no matter how much I want them, I do not possess).
I'm really enjoying Beautiful Darkness (book two), and I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out in a few weeks. Come back next Monday for a review on a different book!