Monday, March 10, 2014

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Pages: 304
Release Date: October 2nd, 2007
Source: Read on Oyster (subscription based service)

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Kyle Kingsbury used to have it least, that's what he wanted people to think. He had perfect good looks, a rich father, friends, and a hot girl on his arm. But inside, he'd become a beastly person, and his behavior was coming back to haunt him. 

As fairy tale retellings go, Beastly wasn't the most creative. Beyond the elements of Beauty and the Beast in modern times, the story stayed pretty much the same: guy insults witch, she curses him, and only true love can break the curse. While the writing wasn't bad (although Kyle was a bit annoying in the beginning), the story itself still had that 'heard this before' element, which is difficult to avoid in books like this. 

There are some creative moments that redeemed this story for me. The chat-room segments became a highlight with their clever references to other fairy tales, and the chat speak wasn't overdone. The way the witch is is handled in this story is unique, and I enjoyed the few new characters like Will the tutor a lot. I also liked that there was a somewhat orphaned feeling between Will and his father. Not that we really want to pity Kyle, but it made his life seem less glossy and wonderful, and more realistic.

I did question the way the 'beauty' character came to the beasts' 'castle' in this story. Regardless of his reasoning, we still have two very young characters living together and the sort of creepy kidnapping aspect was hard to accept. That didn't lend itself well to the whole modern element Beastly was going for. I think the elements with the mirror and final confrontation were a bit unclear. 

Overall, this wasn't a bad read, but I didn't feel it put enough back into the original story to make me really impressed. The clear knowledge the author shows in their note at the end shows they know a thing or two about fairy tales, but I'm not sure it reflected in the final novel.

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