Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beastly by Alex Flinn

rating: 4/5

Probably from the title you can tell that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast - but what you won't guess, I bet, is that this version is told from the Beast's point of view, not Beauty's. Not only that, but when we meet Kyle (aka the Beast) he's living in modern day New York City, perfect in every way except for the fact that he is unabashedly self-absorbed and, really, a complete jerk. Even Daddy's money and his good looks can't save him when a witch decides that the only way to change his heart is to make his outside as beastly as his insides and the spell won't be broken until he finds true love and she has to love him back.

The story is, of course, familiar. I love how the author was able to convert it so seamlessly from a cottage and a castle in the forest into a preppy private school and a Brooklyn brownstone - the plot felt full of new life and promise. My favorite part, though, about this retelling was Kyle's voice -his teenage sarcasm and his undeniable need for love that he would never admit. It was a pleasure to watch him stretch beyond himself and dig deep to find beauty and passion in a girl who had always existed far below his radar. The romance was genuine, completely satisfying and it didn't end at the climax. We got to enjoy our characters for a little while beyond the end that we knew was coming, unusual for a fairy tale. Despite a little bit of preachy dialogue about judging people on looks alone, Beastly is still a great blend of old and new plots and characters - this book's a winner.

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