Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Review: Beastly, by Alex Flinn

BeastlyBeastly by Alex Flinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beastly, by Alex Flinn

Synopsis: 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.

In A Sentence: Meh. An interesting fairy tale retelling, but a little cheesy.
My Thoughts: I like fairy tale retellings. I’m one of those people who don’t really like the original stories because the princesses are frequently air-headed damsels who can’t seem to stay out of trouble because they ignore really practical warnings. The only thing good about them (if you can call it good) is that they are all the most beautiful maidens and princes fall immediately in love with them. When I daydream about these fairy tales, I often wonder if the prince still loves her a year later after she has his kid and gains a few pounds with some additional stretch marks.
I find retellings bring these fairy tales into the 21st century. The women are smarter and more independent, and the princes aren’t superficial men who like to kill things. So I was attracted to this retelling of Beauty And The Beast, especially since it was from the point of view of the “Beast”.
In general, this was an okay story. I liked how Flinn stuck to the more traditional elements of the story, such as the beast having fur and fangs, and the fact that the dad essentially surrendered his daughter to him. The rose garden plays an important role as well, just like in the original fairy tale. Kyle Kingsbury is a likeable character, as are Lindy, Kendra, and the others. This story also brings attention to how, in this day and age, some parents just shouldn’t be parents, and it provides a strong moral message that looks aren’t everything. One thing I really liked was that Lindy was described as “plain-looking”, with slightly crooked teeth and nothing outstanding in her features. I also liked the chat room Kyle joined, where other people who have been cursed get together and discuss their transformations; it gave you a small glimpse at other popular fairy tales, which was entertaining.
Now I knew this was a YA novel. I was prepared for some cheesy romance. And I got it. The writing, particularly at the end, is tacky and not particularly well-done. And Beauty and the Beast doesn’t translate well into the modern era either. Kidnapping isn’t really considered romantic nowadays, and while Kyle/The Beast constantly assures her that he’s not doing this to hurt her in any way, keeping her in his home is just plain weird and slightly creepy. No wonder Lindy was so freaked out at first.
The characters weren’t as well developed either. There was an attempt to provide some depth, but it wasn’t quite as successful as it could have been. And I don’t think guys are realistically quite as melodramatic as Kyle Kingsbury was. Yeah, melodramatic definitely describes it.
I saw the movie that was based off of this story as well, and it’s also very cheesy. They took a different route with the kidnapping, and how the Beast is supposed to look (they went with tattoos and weird implants, instead of fur and fangs). They changed some other small things as well, including some of the dialogue, somehow making it cheesier.
I think what bugs me most about the movie is the fact that everyone is extremely good-looking. Vanessa Hudgens (playing Linda) is a very pretty girl, and Alex Pettyfer is still pretty hot, even when he’s a beast; you just have to look past the tattoos a little. All I’m saying is I think they could have been a little uglier, and promote the original moral a little better.
So, would I recommend this story? Sure. Just go in with some lower expectations. It isn’t an amazing retelling; it’s interesting, but it’s also a little tacky. It’s also a fast read, so you won’t spend too much time on it.

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