This afternoon, I finished reading the Beautiful Creatures series.
And it made me really, really happy.
I had my trepidations about it, starting out, because if there are two things I know to be wary of in the wrong hands, they are teen paranormal romance and the South. So the two of them together? Talk about a potential recipe for disaster.
But as it turned out, they weren’t in the wrong hands here at all, and I found myself in love.
Here are ten reasons why, and ten reasons why you should love it, too. ♥
1. The covers.
I’ll be perfectly honest: Even if I had hated the first book, I probably still would have bought the rest of them, just because they are that pretty and dammit I needed them for my collection. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but if you ask me, of course you should. A book, as a physical object, can be an experience unto itself, which includes the pleasure of staring at a gorgeous cover. It’s a story you shouldn’t judge solely by its packaging.
Also, I love that these books are beautiful because of stunning typography, not just because of some pretty girl in a pretty dress that ripples prettily out behind her as she poses in some hauntingly pretty landscape. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for pretty girls and pretty dresses and pretty landscapes, and some very striking covers have come from this combination…but words can be beautiful, too.
(Yep. I admit it. I am a fontslut, and I am unashamed.)
Teen paranormal romance where the first-person narrator is a boy? Yes, please!
Ethan’s maleness alone earned the series a major point, as far as I was concerned, but it was Ethan himself who made me start falling in love with it. Not because he is lovable (though he is), but because he sounds real. The whole time I was reading, I never once got the feeling of, Wow, I wonder how many teenage boys the writers had to talk to in order to get Ethan’s voice down so well?
Because it never once sounded, to me, like they were trying. It sounded, instead, like Ethan was a real teenage boy out there somewhere, who had found a way to start talking inside their heads (hey, that’s a skill he actually has in the books!), and just kept on talking until they wrote the story he was telling down, and that was that.
Link was, I think, my absolute favourite out of everyone. I’ve a soft spot for the best-friend characters, and Mr. Wesley Jefferson Lincoln here might just be one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.
Endearingly dumb as a rock (and every bit as useless with music as he is with smarts, but never let it be said that he lets that stop him from aspiring to be a rock god anyway), but achingly, achingly loyal. In short, Link is the kid you really really really want as your best friend when you have to be all “So, uh, hey man, my girlfriend’s actually a supernatural and I seem to’ve found myself in the middle of little supernatural war here and also we’re all very liable to drop dead.” Because even if he has no idea what in hell is going on, beyond the fact there’s a high probability of getting killed, he will still roll with it and have your back anyway. And crack jokes the whole time.
Link is also that special sort of obnoxious that is so obnoxious it somehow just comes full-circle and becomes incredibly charming instead, and I adore him. ♥ You can’t not.
Amma is the mother-figure everyone wishes they had, and would be deathly terrified of if they did. (Pretty sure the Devil himself would be deathly terrified of Amma, really.) This lady can call up spirits and read the future and save your ass with magickal charms, all while outbaking an entire town and making teenage boys cower into submission with a wooden spoon. Talk about multitasking.
Ever imagine Atticus Finch as a badass supernatural? No? Well, now you don’t need to, because there is Macon Ravenwood, and it’s sort of amazing. (C’mon, he even named his badass supernatural dog Boo Radley!)
6. Their portrayal of the South.
It’s worth stating again that I was more than a little concerned as to how this setting would go, because people tend to veer right to one of two extremes when it comes to the South: Either they completely romanticise it to a point that’s nearly more ridiculous than the real South itself, or they focus so completely on the bad and gritty and filthy that I feel the need to take a shower afterwards.
But these ladies? They nail it. They have, I think, figured out the one overwhelming truth when it comes to talking or writing about the South:
You don’t need to make fun of it. It makes fun of itself.
No mockery of the South can ever outdo the sheer ridiculousness that the South itself spews. (I can say that, as I grew up there, and had next-door neighbours literally called Big Bub and Lil Bub and would see chickens in the middle of the road to Walmart, where yes, you can buy guns. So trust me, I know.) And their South is simply what it is, nothing more, nothing less. Minus all of the supernaturals running amok, that is.
Gatlin is a character of its own, and it comes across as human — not entirely good, not entirely bad, not Light or Dark, but human. Real.
7. “Don’t think of me as a librarian. Think of me as a mad scientist; this is my secret laboratory.”
This quote would be the point where I came to the conclusion I was not just enjoying this series; I was falling rather rapidly in love. And also that I really want to be a mad-scientist-librarian when I grow up.
8. Badass librarians. Plural!
9. Absolutely insane hundred-year-old screaming sisters who fight over Jeopardy!, insist that iffen is a word in Scrabble, consider the word “naked” profanity, have a collection of taxidermied dogs all named after one of their numerous dead husbands and a cat named after Lucille Ball, and aren’t entirely clear on the fact that Elvis is dead or that the Confederate flag isn’t actually in use anymore.
…enough said, I suppose.
10. The fact that while the romance drove the story, was the reason for the story, there were still countless reasons to care about the story even without it.
Sure, I wanted to see what happened with Ethan and Lena, but I was equally interested in all of the rest of the characters and their relationships and backstories (Link and Ridley’s relationship and Macon’s backstory, in particular), in the setting and the lore of the world(s). In short, the story isn’t just a romance. It’s actually strong.
So what’re you waiting for? Get going and read it, already — or if you already have, tell me why you loved it, too!