Title: Beautiful Creatures
Series: The Caster Series #1
Author(s): Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown and Company
Blurb (from back cover)
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern 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.
The font is really pretty, and so are the trees. In fact, the trees are pretty detailed; if you look close you can see the ivy growing up the sides. But there’s something missing, especially from huge trees in the deep south: Spanish Moss. Look at any picture of trees on a plantation, and you’ll find it. Especially the trees that line the entrance to said plantation. It’s beautiful and a little creepy at night, but there’s no denying that you know you’re in the South if you see it hanging from trees.
Gatlin is a fictional town, but there are enough small towns in South Carolina that you can really get a good idea of the mentality between townsfolk. Everyone looks the same, acts the same. Everyone goes to church on Sunday mornings, and usually there’s only one church in said small town.
When Ethan first wakes up with dirt in his bed, I thought I’d have to suspend my [dis]belief for a while. No problem, I can do that. I was almost a hundred and fifty pages in before I wanted to throw the book across the room. Not because Ethan can actually remember what Lena wears, but because they got the details of Summerville, SC, wrong. Seriously. It’s kind of hard to come from the coastal area of South Carolina and not be pissed that they got the town wrong. (Actually, Summerville isn’t so much a town as it is a city, and it’s much larger than what they say in the book.)
In fact, on page 149, I have two sticky notes attached. The first says, “Summerville is not that small.” This is in reference to the “Cineplex” having only one theater. There’s two theaters in the Summerville area. One is in Ladson and is, if I remember correctly, an eight-screen theater. The second is a newer theater with 16 screens and stadium seating. The second sticky note says, “Summerville doesn’t have a CC.” CC being community college. About fifty pages later, I have a sticky note that says “No mall,” in reference to the Summerville mall that doesn’t exist.
I’m all about books set in South Carolina, but if you’re going to write about it, you damn well better get the details right, especially if it’s a real city. I’m from there. I worked at the Kohl’s in Summerville, and my mom lives there now. Seeing so many details wrong about a single city on one page really got to me. After a while, I gave up with the sticky notes. I could have papered the entire book with inaccuracies about South Carolina, and South Carolinian speech.
Finally, the authors took a page right out of Stephen King’s book, Carrie, and dumped something on Lena’s head. Granted, it wasn’t pig’s blood, but it was at a high school dance, and it was rather humiliating, and revenge was had. Dear authors: Stephen King did it better.
Also, people from South Carolina don’t talk like that, not even when they’re from a small town. Maybe from North Carolina, or maybe another southern state, but we South Carolinians don’t talk like that. At all. And it’s insulting when you think we (meaning all Southerners) all talk the same. We don’t. Hell, even accents within states vary, depending on where they’re at.
I tried to find something that I liked. I really, really did. And actually, the whole Casters idea was new to me. But overall, the whole book was tired (the same, “we can’t be together for some innocuous reason” bit), and what with all the inaccuracies about a place I grew up in, I just couldn’t get into the idea. But I’m willing to give it another shot with the second book. We’ll see how it goes.