When Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl was first published six years ago, of course I heard about this instant teen/YA hit, but I thought it didn’t sound like something I’d like (not that I knew much about it). Boy, was I wrong. Beautiful Creatures was my first free download of the summer from SYNC, and I absolutely loved this captivating, unique audio book.
Ethan Wate has lived in Gatlin, SC, all his life, and he can’t wait to escape it. Everyone in town knows everything about everyone else, and though Ethan doesn’t admit it to his friends in high school, he is tiring of the same old stuff and even being part of the “in” crowd. His best friend, Link, is the only person he really truly enjoys hanging out with. But Ethan can’t even tell Link about the strange dreams he’s been having about a beautiful girl he’s never seen before. In the dream, Ethan is always trying to save her from falling, but he never does. The dreams are always the same, and they seem so real.
When Lena Duchannes moves to town and starts going to the local high school, it is the first new and interesting thing to happen in a long time. Lena isn’t like the other girls at school – she dresses differently, she acts differently, she’s unlike any girl Ethan has ever met before. And Ethan thinks she might be the girl from his dream.
Lena is staying with her uncle, Macon, a hermit who lives in an old plantation house who Ethan thinks of as their very own Boo Radley. For this reason – and her differentness – the other kids at school tease and bully Lena, but Ethan befriends her. He feels inexplicably drawn to her and wants to understand the mysterious connection they seem to have from his dreams. The closer Ethan and Lena become, the more they are both ostracized from the close-knit community.
I was absolutely captivated by this unique, well-written novel from the very first chapter, and I loved the literary references built into it (both Lena and Ethan love to read). ). It’s an atmospheric, gothic tale where the southern setting is an integral part of the story. The audio is beautifully produced – perhaps one of the best audio books I have ever listened to (and I listen to a lot of them!). It includes sound effects, music that is an integral part of the story, and two different narrators to voice Ethan and Lena’s parts.
The story itself draws you in right from the start, with mysteries and secrets that keep you guessing. The more that Ethan learns about Lena – and later, the more they learn together – the greater the pull of the story. It’s mystery, suspense, magic, and romance all rolled into one compelling package that is impossible to put down. Though the book is full of surprises, the biggest one is that it took me so long to discover this popular book that started a 4-book series and a movie adaptation. I can’t wait to read more!