Book Reviews 2014 · Retelling of Fairytales Books · Young Adult Book Reviews

‘Beastly’ by Alex Flinn

I am a beast. A beast! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. 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.

4.5 Stars (Rounded to 5)

I was put off of reading ‘Beastly‘, as I was told many times that the film was so much better than the book, and I had already seen the film. Because of this, it took me a while to pick up the book, even though I owned a copy. However, I needed a short book for a holiday car journey, and ‘Beastly‘ fitted the bill. I was glad that I chose to finally finish this book, and I ended up enjoying it immensely, so here is a (rather short, but I’ve just returned from holiday) non-spoilery review to highlight what I loved from the story.

I am a fan of the film, however one film peeve was the fact that Kyle, the main character, did not seem to develop too much in the film; he was your average American good-looking, popular ‘jock’ (I suppose – being British, I have to say that stupid classifications like ‘jock’ do not exist in this country) who was a bit of a twat – he was not too bad to begin with really, nor did he have a hugely different approach in the end. In the book, this is different. Kyle starts the book a truly despicable person. He is incredibly cruel and arrogant, and (unfortunately if you think about it) is very realistic. I have met many guys who have the same damaging attitude to society, and set the same unattainable expectations for teenage girls to achieve. The fact that he is so out-of-order to begin with leads to the thing I found most enjoyable about this book; the character development. In this book, we see such a huge change in Kyle’s attitude, in such a gradual manner. This makes the story progression very believable; the purpose was to teach him a life lesson and change his outrageous views, and we see him absorb the information and learn the lesson. Sometimes in romantic fairytale retellings, the message of the original fairytale can be lost. Through Kyle/Adrian’s approach to change and his adapting mentality, we see the Beauty and the Beast moral echoed, therefore lose none of the story’s message within the romance.

I found the entire story very satisfying. The romance between Adrian and Lindy is not too clichéd from the beginning, and it is nice to see the interest build slowly, rather than the tacky love-at-first-sight crap which is so popular currently. After all the twists and turns, which are not hugely obvious or predictable, the ending is a natural conclusion, and I do not feel that anything else was needed or missing. The story, while short, was not rushed, and there were no glaring plot holes that I felt needed answering.

I could really identify with the ideas in this story. I was always the ‘Lindy’ kind of girl; a girl who is seen as completely unsuitable due to a love of books and learning, and more than one brain cell, as opposed to being a tart who searched for attention. It could just be me, but I do always feel good when I can see a female character who I can identify with in that way; I feel that most girls in popular culture are either unrealistically pretty and set ridiculous expectations of us, or dress provocatively or act irresponsibly to get a guy’s attention, which paints a terrible picture of teenage girls today. It is because ‘Book Lindy’ is neither of these that I feel so attached to the character (side note: Vanessa Hudgens as ‘Film Lindy’? Really? She is in no way a portrayal of the kind of girl Lindy represents).

The little ‘chatroom snippets’ between various fairytale characters split up the parts of the book and I think they gave a nice breather from the story. They helped me to continue reading, as I feel the break from Kyle/Adrian’s point of view was necessary sometimes, especially when he is particularly miserable at the beginning of his transformation.

In conclusion, I was disappointed that I let others’ comments about the film hinder my progress of the book. I personally found this so much more enjoyable and believable than the film. I have grown fond of fairytale retellings recently, and certainly intend to read another Alex Flinn book shortly, as ‘Beastly‘ was certainly a fab choice to read this summer.

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