There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere. At least, that's what I thought. Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong. There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave. 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.
REVIEW: 4 STARS
This book was pretty much brilliant. The plot is incredibly unique, has countless twists and turns thrown in- many of which were absolutely unexpected, and is almost the epitome of mystery intrigue. The only place this book fell short for me was in speed- there were many times I felt the story was dragging, constantly reminding the reader there was some big mystery, things weren’t as they seemed, and Lena had a million secrets. At times, I kind of thought it was being shoved down my throat and when I wouldn’t swallow, they just shoved harder. That is the main reason this book is only earning 4 stars from me because everything else was fantastic.
Let’s talk characters. This book is in Ethan’s POV which is unique since it’s from the guy’s perspective although standard because he isn’t the one that’s all special and what not. Still, it was nice for it to be in his mindset. He’s a loveable little guy even if a bit on the dumb side at times. He starts out on the basketball team, a popular kid at school because of it, but ends up being shunned because he associates himself with Lena. I admire him for sticking with her, appreciate their bond- but the fact that it just happened and other than feeling kind of sad, it didn’t even seem to phase him definitely bothered me. Yes, he’s a good guy and there was an instant connection to Lena, but he’s still a teenage boy. On that note as well... sex never even crossed this kid's mind until it was thrust at him towards the end and even then, it was distantly. I admire the authors for not making him a total horndog but I find it highly doubtful that he could spend an entire day making out Lena, feeling constant electricity between them, and feel no down south effect or want more. In some ways, he was almost a little bit too perfect for me because even though he made mistakes, it seemed like he always had the best intentions so ultimately it was alright.
On to Lena- she worms her way into this story in a very interesting way, giving the reader a great look at her even if it’s not set in her POV. I came to know her as much as Ethan and that made the entire story even stronger. Her battle between her family and her fate along with wanting to be a ‘normal’ teenage girl came up often, situating itself at just the right times for the reader to remember she really is just a teenage girl.
The minor characters- Amma, Macon, Ridley- are all well defined, each with their personalities that are strongly written and each of them was memorable. Despite having a relatively large cast, none of the characters were forgettable, nameless faces that blended. Link was even more loveable than Ethan but a bit more of a teenage boy with sex very obviously on his mind, which only made Ethan's apparent lack of a sex drive more obvious. Link is the best friend, the side kick, and anything else that falls under that category who never gets a girl but makes every female reader swoon in her own way because he's just that sweet. Or they pity him.
The setting just might be my favorite thing about this novel, apart from the incredibly well thought out plot. Taking place in a small Southern town that would still fly the Rebel flag if it could, there were several events in the book that became absolutely unique simply because of the setting. The Southern drawl and grammar stayed true in the book, complete with words like fixin’ and turnings I’s into E’s. Gatlin was not just a place for this book to happen- it was a feature all its own that came up throughout the entire book and made it stand out in a sea of fantasies.
There isn’t much I can say about the plot without giving away any of the major points other than it is pretty much brilliant. Things are clearly not just put in to be there- it all has a reason and a purpose. It is intricate and meditated, right down to the small details, and these two authors have most definitely proved themselves as skilled in the craft.
As I said, my only real downfall with this book was the parts where it really seemed to lag, reiterating all the mystery without really telling much except that hey, there’s still a mystery and in case you weren’t sure, let’s go a few more pages to remind you that yes, there is a huge mystery going on. Those lags did show more of Ethan and Lena as characters but I have to admit, in a book that is almost 600 pages, I did need more than some cute characters and a mystery to keep me going. I don’t require action at all times, even when a character is sleeping, but I did need a little more in a book this big.
The ending, however, was amazing. My mind is already trying to figure out where things are going from here, what certain things mean, and how it will all play out. The very fact that things aren’t over after this book is also amazing because so much happened and yet, there is still more to come and if it is as thought as this book, there is nothing but great things in store.
Source: Christmas present from my brother, probably bought at Hastings
Hardcover, 576 pages
Little Brown & Company
Little Brown & Company
December 01, 2009
Age: 12 and up
Age: 12 and up
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