Another book read before the movie was released; that was my goal with picking up this book and after the flop that was Mortal Instruments I was a little apprehensive about reading another YA book. I was in the mood for some Dickens or historical fiction and I figured YA wouldn't appeal to me and yet this book did. Now, I find myself to be a little more judgmental of YA books. I think of multiple factors: the story line inevitable love story, originality or lack there of, and the writing skill. Many people snub their noses at YA books because of the near obsessive reaction many teens have to it. There's nothing to get a lot of snobby book readers to dislike more than people freaking out over really poorly written books. Still, there are a lot of poorly written adult books and I feel many times people brush those aside or let the poorly written books be overlooked because they're adult fiction. If it's teen, then it's obviously a book of Satan.
Moving past my mini rant: I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures. It was exceedingly better than Mortal Instruments could ever hope to be. My opinion, however, could be swayed because I had such a foul taste from Mortal Instruments in my life that anything remotely better than that book would gather my interest. But... enough about that and let's get to the review.
Something that seems to catch nearly everyone's eye is that Beautiful Creatures is narrated by a teenage boy. If you are a YA reader you'll know the significance of this: most teen books are not narrated by teen boys. It's always a girl and being in her head. But here we are in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else's business (truth to this: I lived in a small towns all my life up until April 2012. Everyone will know your business) and you are somewhat shoved into a category, a clique and expected to behave accordingly (again, accurate).
Ethan Wate, our lovely male narrator, is a basketball player and kind of a popular kid in the social structure of High School. Secretly however he reads and is a lover of daydreaming about the days he'll travel to locations in his literary works. His father has sunk into a deep depression after his mother died in an accident and now he is more or less raised by a housekeeper named Amma. With basketball, the social intricacies of High School, and his best friend Link, Ethan manages to get by despite his grief and current family life.
Then Lena Duchannes appears. Mysterious and certainly "dangerous" in the town's eyes, Ethan is (of course) instantly drawn to her. But it's not just love at first sight or any of that -- he's been dreaming about her for quite some time leading up to it.
Lena is very standoffish and quick to be offended at first but as the story progresses it's obvious that she uses this as a way to protect herself from further harm. She's a girl who would like to be a normal teen but the dislike of her classmates makes that kind of hard.
Of course, there is much more to the story than just this. Lena is a Caster, kind of like a witch but that's an offensive term, and her family is cursed to be Chosen upon their sixteenth birthday and Taken to either be light or dark. Being light, you seem to remain the same. Being dark, you seem to change completely. You forget who you loved, who you cared for, and your personality twists into something less favorable.
And now you begin your descent with Ethan into Lena's world where magic is real and terror is often felt. The town he thought he knew so well -- as most people feel when they live in a small town their entire life -- becomes something much more with many secrets that have been kept from them all. Is Lena going to go dark or light? You can guess but you won't quite know up until the very end of the book.
Some people commented that Ethan is an unbelievable teenage boy and maybe he is; I don't know, I never was one. But I enjoyed reading the book from his point of view rather than being in Lena's mind. I enjoyed that the Civil War was thrown in and family history was something of importance.Yes there is the typical love story but I enjoyed that there was a lot more going on than just that relationship.
A portion of scenes or plot ideas were rushed, which was disappointing, but overall the book was detailed. It's a long book, but I was able to easily make my way through it and I have to say that sitting the book down I was interested in the next book. Not just curious but by way of wanting to read it and I suppose I will be once I have the opportunity.