Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

by Alex Flinn

Genre: Fairy Tale Re-tellings
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publishing Type: traditional
Publication Date: December 29, 2009
Source: local library (paperback)
Age Rating: 14+ (for light profanity)

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.

My Review

The book was so much better than the movie! I saw the 2011 film version of the book earlier this year, before reading it, and although the movie was great, the book blew past it by a mile. I suppose doing things in that order had its advantages, in that the characters that remained mostly the same from book to screen adaptation were very easy to envision. But, that only meant I could envision Kyle and Will, maybe Sloane, too. So much was altered and I think that's why the book is superior.

In the book, Kyle turned into an actual bona fide “beast,” not some hairless alien. In fact, having too much hair was one of his biggest problems. I think he was supposed to look similar to the 1992 Disney film version of the Beast. Lindy was not a pretty raven-haired girl who could have any guy she wanted at school. Rather, she was red-haired, freckled, and considered average-looking. And, the truth about Magda, the housekeeper, was one of the best reveals of the story, something that never came up in the film.

I already knew that the Beast was going to get his girl in the end and the curse would be broken, but I wasn't sure if I'd believe that the girl would convince me that she truly loved him, despite his hideous features. Re-writing Beauty and the Beast is tough, if anything, for that reason. I wasn't super convinced by the film version, but, the book made it work. It took nearly one full year from the time Kyle made Lindy live with him before any confessions of love were even made, something much more realistic, even for teenagers.

The author, Alex Flinn, did her research and mapped out this story well (and it shows). I think because Lindy was only sixteen-years-old, young and impressionable, she could be persuaded over time to overlook Kyle's physical condition and learn to love him. He mostly made her life better. And, Kyle went from being downright awful, saying things like, “I tried not to look at her crooked teeth. Why didn't she just get braces?” to changing into an insecure loner who feared rejection from everyone, and could see beauty even in the plainest rose.

When characters grow, I find myself loving them and their story ten times more than if they just bumble along mostly unchanged from beginning to end. But, the trick is that the characters have to go through believable transformations in the story, or they lack credibility. Thankfully, Kyle and Lindy's growth was convincing and paid a marvelous modern homage to one of the most beautiful love stories the world has ever known.

My score: 5 out of 5 stars.


  1. I've always loved the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale but as I've gotten older I've gotten more skeptical about anyone ever falling in love with a hairy beast :( I didn't even know there was a movie version! This book sounds fantastic though!

  2. @Lan: It is fantastic! If you love the fairy tale, I think you'll like this modern rendition, too.


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