Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Beauty, by Robin McKinley

Beauty (Folktales #1)Beauty by Robin McKinley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beauty, by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage. When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?" Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.
In A Sentence: A nice story, but I still prefer the Disney movie.

My Thoughts: This was a decent love story. It’s a retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, and it sticks closely to the original tale, but reworks the dialogue and action to make the family and sisters more kindly; it also gives everyone a happy ending, not just Beauty and her Beast.
I liked this retelling. It’s a romance, but not one of those romances that I really can’t stand (for example, I don’t like explicit sex scenes, falling in love immediately, everyone is beautiful, etc.). I always loved the Disney movie, and I think it’s because this is a love story where the characters take the time to get to know each other before falling in love, which is much more realistic than love at first sight, so the story comes to life more for the reader. Plus it’s a love story where being beautiful has absolutely nothing to do with it, which I really appreciate.
Despite this being one of my favorite stories, I still only liked this story; I didn’t love it. I guess it just lacks anything extra. McKinley followed the original fairy tale with little deviation, but also stretched it out a bit I think. Maybe I’m in more of an action-packed mood, or maybe I’m used to Disney’s version, but I felt like there should have been a little more conflict in the story, a little more depth to the Beast maybe.
Either way, I still prefer the Disney version of this story, for multiple reasons. First off there’s more depth to the movie’s adaptation, such as humor, action, conflict, character development, and love. Secondly, there’s not a huge age gap between the two lovers (not that there’s anything wrong with loving someone 20 years your senior, but I think similar ages creates more equality between two people). Finally, the movie takes Stockholm Syndrome out of the equation, I think. When Belle tries to run away, she chooses to stay out of an obligation to the Beast because he just saved her life and got injured because of that. She falls in love with him when he starts changing and becoming a little more sensitive and open. In this book, there really isn’t any humor, which I felt it kind of needed, the Beast is middle-aged when Beauty is only 18 or 20, and the Stockholm Syndrome argument can be applied to this story more easily.
So, overall I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. It’s a good story and McKinley is a good writer, I just needed a little more from this story. I will read more from McKinley, however. Recommended for those who love fairy tale retellings.

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