Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

While looking for something to read on a recent plane trip, I finally cracked open Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures, a book that has been idling on my to-be-read shelf for over two years.

Beautiful Creatures is set in Gatlin, South Carolina, a tiny town populated by "the stupid and the stuck... the ones who are bound to stay or too dumb to go". The novel's protagonist is sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate, who, still recovering from his mother's death and his father's resulting near-breakdown, is counting down the days until he graduates from high school and hightails it out of Gatlin. Ethan's single-minded focus on escaping his hometown wavers, however, when Lena Duchannes arrives in town. Lena is quiet and deliberately standoffish, but Ethan knows there's something strangely familiar about her.

Much to my delight, there was no love triangle in this story. I can't even remember the last YA book I read without one, and I was so pleased about it I managed to forgive Garcia and Stohl for using one of my least-favorite literary cheats: dressing their heroine in Converse and emo outfits as evidence of her other-worldliness. (Note: Buying your clothes at Hot Topic instead of American Eagle doesn't make you special and hardcore and magical, kids. It just makes you a different flavor of mall rat.) In addition to the lack of a love triangle, the story was blessed with interesting secondary characters and an atmospheric—if clichéd—deep South setting. For once, my Converse-related irritation (which is normally a formidable force) didn't stand a chance.

As you may recall, this was the series Warner Bros. bought the rights to, like, the second the first book came out, clearly hoping to enjoy a piece of Twilight-esque pie. I don't think Garcia and Stohl's series will ever achieve that level of popularity, but the first installment, at least, was love-triangle-free and more than entertaining enough to while away a plane ride, and for that I am sincerely grateful.

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