Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Southern Gothic Fantasy Hits the Big Screen
I always prefer to read the book before seeing the movie. I think it’s more fun to imagine what the characters look like before some casting directors do it for me. If the filmmakers do a good job of bringing the book to the big screen, it adds to the fun. Harry Potter, anyone?
So when I saw that the movie “Beautiful Creatures,” based on the book of the same name (Little, Brown and Co., 2009) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, was coming out this year just in time for Valentine’s Day, I knew I had to read the book first.
All I can say is this: if the movie lives up to the book, I’m going to enjoy it.
Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate lives in the small southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina, where nothing ever seems to change and old folks still refer to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.” The biggest event in town is the yearly Civil War reenactment that everyone—save Ethan and his family—seems to relish.
Nothing changes, that is, until Lena Duchannes comes to town. She is, literally, the girl of his dreams. For months, he had dreamed of a beautiful girl he had never met. She is falling, and he must save her. When Ethan meets the mysterious Lena on their first day of sophomore year, he knows it’s her. It is also clear that she is no ordinary teenager. She moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation with her uncle Macon Ravenwood, the town recluse.
Ethan falls for this strange new girl who is unlike any of the perky, blonde, fake-tanned cheerleader types who dominate the school’s social scene. She’s dark-haired, pale, wears all the wrong kind of clothes, and drives a hearse to school. Yes!
As Ethan quickly discovers, Lena’s differences go way, way beyond her looks. She is a Caster, which is something like a witch. Although, as Lena points out, “That’s such as stupid word, really. It’s like saying jocks. Or geeks. It’s just a dumb stereotype.” Ethan and Lena begin to fall for each other, even as they learn that their pasts are inextricably bound together. And Lena is struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations.
Authors Garcia and Stohl do a terrific job of describing the atmosphere, culture, and secrets of a small southern town, creating a gripping ending that will have you wishing for more. Wish granted: there are of course sequels—not to mention the movie!
Sara Latta is a children's science writer and author of 17 books. You can learn more about her work and link to past reviews at http://www.saralatta.com. This review originally published in the Sunday, January 13 edition of The News-Gazette.
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