Book Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Friday, March 11, 2011

HarperTeen, 2007; 304 pages; ISBN  0060874163
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this modern re-telling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. I would have given it five stars be it not for the fact that the ending (like most fairy tales) was a bit too tidy and perfect. That being said, I thought that the author did an excellent job of modernizing the story to fit today's teens and I was both laughing and feeling very sad and frustrated with the "Beast".  The "Beast" is Kyle Kingsbury, a very conceited, rich, popular, jerk-of-a-teen who thinks he has it all.  When ugly girl Kendra makes an appearance, Kyle jokingly asks her to the upcoming school dance with the intention of shunning her in the end.  Little does Kyle know that Kendra is a witch in disguise, so she curses him to live as the beast and she gives him a magical mirror so he can see what is going on in the outside world because surely as a beast he cannot continue to live amongst everyone else.  Sure enough Kyle's father is the first to exile his own son, setting him up in an apartment with a housekeeper named Magda, and eventually a blind tutor named Will.  The terms of the curse are that if Kyle can find a girl that loves him for the person he is and not for his looks and get her to kiss him within two years, he will be set free and returned to normal.  Kendra only agrees to include the two year clause because at the dance Kyle committed the unselfish act of giving a rose to the ticket taker, a girl named Lindy.  Lindy turns out to be the girl that will fall in love with Kyle.  As the months go by Kyle also decides to change his name to Adrian, because the name Kyle means 'handsome' and the name Adrian means 'the dark one'.  Adrian takes up gardening at the suggestion of his tutor and one day a drug addict trespasses upon it, to which Adrian responds by dangling the man out of a window and threatening him.  The desperate man offers to have his daughter take his place instead, and this is how Lindy (the drug addict's daughter) comes to live with Adrian.  Lindy is very upset at first, but slowly she begins to see past Adrian's beastly looks and the two start falling in love.  When the magic mirror reveals that Lindy's father is very sick, Adrian makes the sacrifice of letting Lindy go to him, and shortly after he ends up rescuing her from a would-be rapist (also with the help of the mirror).  But Adrian is injured and right before the two years are up Lindy kisses Adrian and he returns to his handsome self.  There are a couple other revelations and terms of the curse that come as a result of the kiss, but basically all is well and Adrian and Lindy live happily ever after.  Throughout the story there are also instant messages that appear between Adrian and other teens who have been transformed into creatures, and I thought they were very charming and worked really well in breaking up the story without interrupting it.  They gave the story that extra fairy tale twist. I also thought the lesson of seeing past a person's exterior was portrayed very well, without being preachy, and I think teens will enjoy this tale of a modern teen werewolf/beast.  As I read the novel I kept picturing Kyle/Adrian like Teen Wolf from the 1985 movie starring Michael J. Fox, but now that the film version of Beastly is out, I can't wait to see what they did with it, because it looks a lot more dark and modern than the eighties version of a teen beast.  Here's the movie trailer:


Photo: From Goodreads.com website

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4 comments:

Kristin said...

I absolutely loved this book. I bought it for my sister shortly after it came out and read it as soon as she was finished. The move was fine, but the book was much better. In the movie Lindy wasn't as plain as I thought she should've been and Kyle wasn't actually a beast, which has irked me ever since I saw the first still.

You should definitely check out Flinn's other fairy-tales-retold books. Cloaked is the most recent and very good but third best, in my opinion. As much as I loved Beastly, I think A Kiss in Time is my favorite, simply because I was cracking up throughout.

adriana said...

I also read A Kiss in Time and really enjoyed it too. Yeah, I'm always skeptical when it comes to movies based on books. It's really hard when you enjoyed the book so much. I will definitely have to add Cloaked to my list.

Cheyenne said...

I reaaally want to read this, but it's not at my library. Bah.

Kristi The Book Faery said...

I loved this book! I like the fact that a lesson was learned after going through a similar situation.

The movie adaptation I don't think is as close as it could be (He's not hairy, for one!)!

I just got Cloaked this week but I've got so much to read right now that I haven't been able to start it.

I'm a new follower, Adriana and I love your site!

I'd love for you to stop by and see me!

Kristi-The Book Faery's Blog

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