Little Brown Books, 563 pages
"Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."
This book is paranormal, romantic, historical, and even a little bit "mean girl," all wrapped into one. The paranormal aspects are added in slowly throughout the entire book, so the reader never has too much to swallow at once. I personally thought that this was great because I didn't get confused with new terms and ideas that were being introduced, so I better understood the book. History also played a prominent role throughout the book, which surprised me because I was expecting pure paranormal romance. However, the setting is in the South, and so the rich historical aspects really added a lot to the book. Parts of Beautiful Creatures actually reminded me a little of the movie, "Mean Girls." This is brought in when Savannah and Emily, who might as well be the princesses of Gatlin Country, enter the story. Their opinions matter to everyone, and they hate Lena from the start. As a result, the whole school turns against her, much like what happens in "Mean Girls."
The romance between Lena and Ethan was more maturely founded than in most paranormal romance stories, I thought. Lena and Ethan work into their relationship slowly, whereas most characters of the genre tend to jump into things without thinking. They didn't start saying "I love you," right away, but waited until they had actually been through a lot together and meant a lot to each other, so the reader knows that they mean it. They also share a strong connection: they dream about each other before they even meet. They can even speak to each other without talking, because they can hear each other's thoughts.
There are so many valuable lessons throughout Beautiful Creatures, which is part of what makes it a truly worthy read. In the book, there are situations that require both acceptance and bravery. Everyone in the town is turned against Lena and her family based purely on the fact that they are different from everyone else. In the midst of all the judgement, Ethan is brave enough to accept and stand up for Lena, even though it was a certain social suicide for him. Accepting Lena was only the start, however. He had to brave the danger that went along with being with her, which was sometimes risking his life.
Beautiful Creatures is a really great read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance. I, personally, ordered the second book and pre-ordered the third the second I got done reading Beautiful Creatures.
Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.