Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: 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—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.


Plot: 3/5
Beastly is a modern retelling of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast. It's the story of Kyle Kingsbury, the boy who had it all, but at the same time was an elitist who only cared about himself. As punishment, a witch casts a spell on him, taking away everything he had- his popularity, his girlfriend, his looks. Overnight, he turns into an ugly beast. Just like in the fairytale, the only way he can break the spell is if a girl falls in love with him. Basically, it's identical to the original story, but with fun, modern twists and some new characters.

Creativity: 4/5
Though Beastly tells the tale of Beauty and the Beast, there are so many fun quirks added to it that make it more appealing to the modern reader. Alex Flinn really tries to make it adapt to the 21st century, and it's evident in the different aspects of the story. For example, the setting is a New York private school. Another example of a contemporary element in the story are the instant messaging sessions between Kyle and other transformed beasts, like the frog prince and the mermaid, which readers are sure to find intriguing. But even with all the twists added, Alex Flinn manages not to lose the classic feel of the story.

Characters: 4/5
Since it's a modern retelling, there are more characters in the story than the original. Fortunately, the new characters are lovable and make the story better. One of the notable new characters is Will, the blind man aspiring to be a professor who is hired to tutor Kyle while he is locked away. There's also Kendra, the spunky witch responsible for Kyle's transformation. The main characters are strong, as well. Although Kyle starts out as a jerk with nothing in mind but his own well-being, he becomes a better person after he transforms and sees how wrong he was his whole life. Cliche, yes, but readers can't help but warm up to him as he grows to be a better person. Lindy's also another character readers will love. Kind, sweet, and unassuming, she's just hard to dislike despite her physical imperfections.

Writing: 3/5
Flinn writes in an easy, flowing style that readers will find easy to follow. She communicates her ideas well, and although her text is simple, it works to the advantage of the book because it doesn't take attention away from the quirkiness of the story.

Impact: 3/5
It's quirky, it's dramatic, it's something that readers are bound to enjoy. It's an easy read, but it reminds readers of a lesson that a lot of people nowadays forget- beauty is only skin deep.

Overall: 3/5
Initially, I didn't have any plans of reading this book. Sure, I'm all for modern renditions of fairytales, but this just didn't catch my attention. Last year, though, I heard that they were turning it into a major motion picture, and I wanted to watch it, so I said I'll read it first. The story was so cute! I love Disney, so Beastly was something I liked reading. I liked the story, and the characters were great. I particularly enjoyed the relationship of Kyle and Lindy. Though Kyle started out sort of forcing himself onto her because of the curse, he eventually developed genuine feelings for her. I really liked that their relationship was so tender, especially towards the end. I wanted a little more from it, but I still enjoyed reading it. If you're a fan of fairytales (like I am), I suggest you give this book a try.

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