Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is chock full of all the paranormal stuff my tween still loves ... I think.::: The Plot :::The only thing that ever seems different to Ethan Wate about live in the small Southern town of Gatlin are the crazy dreams he has that are so real he often wakes with mud under his nails, until, that is, Lena Duchannes starts school. The niece of the town recluse, Macon Ravenwood, Lena is like nothing Gatlin has ever seen, and only Ethan seems to find that something to like. He's inexplicably drawn to her, and as the two grow closer, they discover they may be tied by more than just Ethan's crazy dreams. There's a lot more to Gatlin than the stereotypical Southern-fried town.::: I Know These People :::I'm not sure whether the authors meant for the book to be as laugh-out-loud funny as I found it at points, but I have met people who are a lot like the inhabitants of Gatlin, and the stuck-in-the-Civil-War-era mentality had me laughing until I cried at points. It may seem overly stereotypical, but if you have spent time in the small-town South, you have met at least some people who resemble some of the outlandish denizens of Beautiful Creatures' town.The mystery and the mythology of the book are fascinating, and worth the Harry Potter-doorstop-like size of the book, long for the genre. The action kept the pace moving, and at no point did it feel like it was an infodump, although once I was assessing the book to review, I realized how much mythology had to be crammed in there without it feeling like a lesson to the readers. The romance between Lena and Ethan was sweet, but often frustrating, sometimes sticking to the tried-and-true young-adult tropes of angst under the guise of "I'll protect you from myself" which were the only parts of the book I could find any fault with.I look forward to reading the next book in the series.