It’s been a really long time since I have finished a book, and I’ve missed sitting there and doing my reading marathons. But life has been crazy, and I’m happy that I was able to finish just one book this month.
In the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, Ethan Waite is the average teenage boy who was just going through the motions. Everything changes when the town recluse’s niece, Lena, transfers in and small town minds react to the newcomer and the odd things that happen around her. Ethan and Lena’s relationship grows as they face opposition from the town and Lena’s family trying to keep them apart. Ethan discovers that the odd things that happen are because of Lena’s uncontrolled magic abilities and face the most difficult obstacle of them all, Lena’s 16th birthday and the family curse attached to it.
Unfortunately I watched the movie before reading the book, so I can’t say I was going into this story blindly. As usual, the movie provided a more condensed outline of the actual story so I at least had the basics of it covered. The book had a lot of moments in it that would have been more logical if put in the film. For example, there was a real explanation as to why Lena’s family tried to keep Ethan and Lena apart. Also the ending made more sense as both Ethan and Lena took control of the resolution of all the conflict rather than rely on a phlebotinum to fix all the problems.
Though this book is marketed as a teen romance novel, I do see a lot more fantasy book tropes in it. Like how the narrator of this book is actually the sidekick to the hero. The fact that they used a family curse as a plot device to move the story into it’s tense moments. I felt like this was a good blend between the two genres without overpowering each other.
When I was reading through it one thing kept coming back to me. Lena feels like she doesn’t have any control. During our teen years, we are often trying to take control of our lives, but it can be infinitely more difficult if you have a family that is constricting. This is made even worse because for a lot of teens everything is heightened and can seem more “life ending”. Everyone around Lena is telling her what she will and wont be, what she can and cannot do, when in reality they have no idea what she is really capable of. They are so scared of her turning into her mother that they try to stifle Lena as much as possible. In all honesty, I think that if Lena had not met Ethan she would have definitely gone dark, of have self-destructed. Having her take control of things in the end of the book was her first step in figuring out who she chooses to be.
Did you like this book, or this series? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!