Lena Duchannes is the new girl in town, but Ethan has known her for months-in his nightmares. Not only is she new, but she is the niece of the town recluse, Macon Ravenwood, making her the object of ridicule to everyone except Ethan and his best friend, Link. As the relationship between Ethan and Lena intensifies, he learns that she is a Caster, and that his sleepy, Southern town is a lot more complicated than he ever knew. Lena will be claimed on her 16th birthday, either Light or Dark, and she simultaneously pushes Ethan away and pulls him in as he is connected to her through a generations long curse. Ultimately, it is up to Lena to battle her powers and her family, but Ethan will do what he can to save the girl he loves.
At it's core, this is a love story, but the paranormal and magical elements make it something more. This book has a lot going for it. The setting is perfect. The deep South with all of it's superstition and ritual, not to mention all of the Confederate longing make for an excellent place for Casters to reside. Also, some of the characters are quite entertaining as well, like Amma and Marian Ashcroft. Marian was a saving grace for this book. Anytime a marginal book speaks highly of libraries and librarians, it instantly gets another star.
Then there are other parts of this book that do feel marginal. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there was something about this book that was slow and dragging. Maybe it was the Southern pace or maybe that this is a 600 page book about choosing an identity. As the first in the series, there were many plot points mixed in that seemed unnecessary, but I'm sure will be relevant in later books. Somehow I'm sure that the death of Ethan's mother and his father's reaction to it will become more important and maybe the relationship between Genevieve and the first Ethan Wate will take on a new meaning. Also, Lena is an uneven character, but maybe that's what makes her believable. At one minute she seemed content, then she would cause a thunderstorm, then she would write on her walls all night. I felt that even for a moody Caster, she was inconsistent.
There is a big time expiration date on this book. I would honestly say 25 tops, unless you too are subject to mercurial moody swings, in which case, I'm not here to judge-enjoy! The angst level in this book is quite high. Lena might as well have been yelling "you don't understand me, no one has ever felt this way" throughout the entire book for how she behaved. Also, there is a lot of poetry. It's all over her walls and in her notebook and sometimes on her hands. I am ashamed to say that I to wrote poetry as a teen but thank goodness that ended! Now I just write long blog posts mocking literary characters that do the same.
Let's talk major motion pictures! The screen adaptation of Beautiful Creatures will be out on Valentine's Day. Aw, that's sweet. Can you imagine all of the adolescent boys trying to win points by taking their girlfriend to Beautiful Creatures on Valentine's Day? Nope, I can't either. I'm super disappointed already. My favorite character was librarian Marian Ashcroft and according to IMDb, she's not even in the movie! I think that I will pass on the movie, and the rest of the series quite frankly, but I can see how this book appeals to high school readers. And since that's the point, good job. I have to say that this book beats The Magnolia League for setting and paranormal magic, it just has a little too much drama for my taste.