Plot Summary: 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.
This book has had much hype around it, even before its release. I am always wary of hype, because books don’t usually live up to it.
I thought this book was okay. I thought the paranormal aspects were fairly unique, and I really enjoy it when a story has a long family history associated with it. But I didn’t love the story. The pacing was too slow, and there were too many times when I was relaxed and not concerned about the characters. There were some intense moments, but they were few and far between, and I was easily lulled into a strange sense of security. This made it too easy to set the book down.
The characters weren't as developed as I wanted them to be, either. Ethan's voice felt too feminine to me. Actually, when I first started reading, I thought the story was from Lena's perspective, just based on the voice. Then, after I adjusted to Ethan's voice, he didn't feel real to me. His entire character felt cliche, like the teenage girl's ideal boyfriend, not what boys are actually like.
Then there was the setting. I have family both in the south and in rural Midwest, and I have gone to visit these places often. Each of them has a different feel, because the people do and say certain things. In small towns, people are both wary and insanely curious about outsiders (even family members who have visited countless times before). In the south, southern hospitality is intrinsic everywhere. Also, the vocabulary is different. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is supposed to take place in a rural southern town, but, to me, it didn't feel like one. We didn't get a sense of southern culture, nor do we get a feel for a rural setting. Sure, the authors captured the descriptions, the civil war, and the DAR well, but the rest felt like city folk writing about what they thought rural life was like. It didn’t feel authentic.
Then, there was the ending...for me, the ending can make or break a story.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
The whole story focuses on what choice Lena will make when the time comes. Except, when we finally get to the end, she doesn’t choose. Why? I can’t see a good reason for this. The one reason that could have kept her from choosing (her uncle) isn’t a factor any longer. So, why? I really don't see it.
Because of this, I found the ending to be contrived. I felt cheated, and that I was being manipulated into buying the next book, which looks like it’s shaping up to have the same conflict as the first. That just isn’t my cup of tea. So, even though I still enjoyed this book, I don’t feel compelled to read the next one. But that’s me. :)