Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantasy Friday: Beastly

Beastly, by Alex Flinn

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304

Reading Level: 14 and up

Enjoyment Level: High

This is the second book of Alex Flinn’s that I’ve read. I read and reviewed A Kiss in Time last year, but I think I liked Beastly more. (And it’s about time I read it, too! I borrowed this from my sister more than several months ago.)


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.

Re-told fairy tales are books I generally tend to avoid. It gets less and less like re-told, and more and more like regurgitated. But I liked Alex Flinn’s take on "Sleeping Beauty" (A Kiss in Time), so I read Beastly, too. "Beauty and the Beast" has always been my favorite fairy tale. That said, I was still apprehensive to read Beastly, since I had such high hopes for it.

The plot, since this is a re-telling, follows a pretty well-established line for Beauty and the Beast. No real surprises with that. There were a few highlights where something stood out, but not much. It was really nice to have it set in NYC (my favorite city), which made for a good alternative to some countryside castle.

The characters set this apart in the re-told library. The story comes from the Beast’s point-of-view, and as such, it feels more gripping to me. Being in the mind of the Beast lends a nice reality to the plot and it makes him falling in love with “Beauty” much more natural than in other versions.

I also really like that the Beauty of the story is plain and bookish – someone the Beast, pre-curse – would never look twice at. Again, it makes the story realistic without becoming cheesy. The interaction between all the characters is great. They all make the Beast’s transformation (physical and mental) meaningful. (A side-note/rant here… I am SO upset that they picked Vanessa Hudgens to play the Beauty character in the movie. Stupid Hollywood – can’t they leave a plain character plain? She’s not supposed to be beautiful!)

Like a lot of books, I felt that the ending was just slightly too fast and neatly wrapped. I would’ve liked to see a few more of the repercussions from the events in the climax, but it’s nothing that made me dislike the book. I still wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who’d enjoy a good urban-fantasy version of "Beauty and the Beast". It’s fast-paced and interesting.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

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