Beautiful Creatures is a story about choices, love, and the impossibility of it all.
Synopsis: Meet Ethan, a 16 year old boy who is eagerly anticipating his departure from small town boredom and monotony. Enter Lena, a 15 year old transplant living with her uncle who is desperate to keep her powers hidden and live a normal teenage life as she awaits certain fates. Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and is determined to decipher the strange connection between them, even if it means revealing secrets that could change everything. [paraphrased from Goodreads]
There is much to love about this book, starting with the cover. I'll be honest, I was drawn to the book based on that. Then I read the inside flap and wanted to dive in. I was a bit skeptical at first - more YA romance, two authors, the sheer length of the book, more paranormal/supernatural themes (Would it be original?) - but all that was forgotten fairly quickly.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story is told from Ethan's point of view rather than Lena's. Despite it being written by two women I did feel as if the voice was true to a teenage boy (however, keep in mind I am not a teenage boy nor have I ever been). A bold move, well done. This helped in the romance development due to the lack of "girly" swooning and over exaggeration of looks/feelings/etc. The pull between Ethan and Lena was palpable and felt genuine.
The more traditional supernatural styles that are portrayed was fairly refreshing. As much as I have enjoyed all types, the basic witch-feel by way of Casters kept it very simple.
The supporting characters are so much more than supporting characters - they can stand on their own. To highlight a few, Macon is strong, sarcastic, snarky. One of my favorite quotes from Macon:
"Are you insinuatin' that my daughter is a liar?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I'm saying your daughter is a liar. Surely you can appreciate the difference." [Macon]
Amma is unrelenting in her protectiveness and I loved her straightforwardness. Link is probably the most accepting friend anyone could have, but in such a real way. Even though he supported Ethan in a multitude of ways, he still did what he need to do to survive; they accept each other as they are with no questions asked, which makes for a great basis for a lasting friendship.
Of course, being not only a lover of books/reading but also a librarian, I loved the important role that Marion and the library played. I am not a history buff, but I did also enjoy how wrapped up in the Civil War the town was, and how it all related to the present. A great excerpt: "It was like being born in Germany after World War II, being from Japan after Pearl Harbor, or America after Hiroshima. History was a bitch sometimes. You couldn't change where you were from. But still, you didn't have to stay there. You didn't have to stay stuck in the past, like the ladies in the DAR, or the Gatlin Historical Society, or the Sisters. And you didn't have to accept that things had to be the way they were, like Lena. Ethan Carter Wate hadn't, and I couldn't either.
The only downfalls are 1) I now feel like I should read To Kill a Mockingbird, given that I've never read it. I knew enough about it (given that it's a classic and all) to understand all the references, but now I'm intrigued enough to read it. So I guess that's not really a downfall, unless adding to my already towering pile of books to read counts as a downfall. And 2) I had to wait an entire week before Beautiful Darkness arrived!