Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tale as Old as Time: Beastly

Beastly by Alex Flinn
Harper Teen, 2007

I love the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. I grew up watching the Disney version which isn't quite like the original, but still, what's not to like? A heroine with a good head on her shoulders and for once it's the prince that needs saving, but as it turns out, they actually save each other. As a result of my love for this story, I feel pretty protective of it. If someone does a retelling or adaptation, I am watching with a sharp eye.

Alex Flinn did her her homework when she wrote Beastly, a modern twist on the classic tale told from the beast's point of view. Kyle is Manhattan's pretty boy who has it all, raised by his father to believe that a person's looks and popularity are the most important things in life. As a result, Kyle is a pretty ugly person on the inside. However when he crosses Kendra, a witch who is disgusted with him, she transforms him into a hairy, ugly, horrible beast and he's given two years to find someone to love who loves him in return. Exiled to Brooklyn, over the course of his sentence he comes to learn what true beauty is, especially when his former classmate Lindy, a kind girl if not the prettiest one, is sent to live with Kyle in a deal he makes with her drug-addict father.

All in all, I really liked it as a one-time read. Had I read it perhaps when I was younger, I could see myself combing over this one time and again, but at this point in my life, once was enough. Kyle is not a likable guy at the start (which is, of course, the point), and while it can be a challenge to then want to stick with his story, if you do it just makes the growth he experiences over the next two years that much more obvious. However, I felt his falling in love with Lindy to be too much, too fast. I had a hard time believing he could change his mind about her so quickly, whereas her feelings changed more gradually and realistically.

It was the supporting cast that I was most taken with. Will, Kyle's blind tutor, is a man wise beyond his years and has the patience of a saint. He wants Kyle to succeed and believes in him even when Kyle has given up all hope. I also liked that Kendra showed growth and remorse for her actions as well. I loved that there was much more to this angry witch than meets the eye initially, and it's an element of the story I found to be the most realistic.

So if you like fantasies, fairy tales, and retellings with a twist and you haven't checked out Beastly yet, I say it's worth the read if your library has a copy.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Alex Flinn's Website

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