Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Beastly, by Alex Flinn


Beastly
by Alex Flinn
Paperback, 336 pages
Published by HarperTeen
December 29, 2009 (1st: October 1, 2007)

· isbn: 0060874163
· isbn13: 9780060874162


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 a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

Beastly is a modern day re-telling of the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. We're introduced to our 'beast', Kyle Kingsbury, immediately as he is our narrator in the story. With the story being in first person POV, we get to see Kyle Kingsbury for who he truly is. He knows he's rich, attractive, and popular, but every now and then we get a glimpse of someone with an actual conscience - even if he does choose to ignore the kind and compassionate part of himself. In choosing to ignore this and live up to his elitist reputation, he makes a witch mad who puts a spell on him that turns him into a beast, and she gives him two years to find someone to truly love him to break the spell. She also gives him one more gift, a mirror that allows him to see what others are up to. The mirror becomes his obsession, along with his greenhouse and roses that he starts to take up some of his time in his new solitary apartment that his dad hid him in with his maid Magda and his blind tutor, Will. During his time alone when he's looking in the mirror, Kyle starts watching a classmate from his 'old life', Lindy, who turns into our 'beauty' of the story - even though Kyle just saw her as plain and nothing special before. A run-in with Lindy's drug-addicted father gives him the opportunity to have Lindy come live with him in hopes that she will fall in love with him.

This story was delightful. Through Kyle's perspective, you can really see him grow and mature as a character. Through his time alone and his mirror, he sees how his friends truly are and realizes that maybe his life wasn't as great as he thought. I really liked Kendra and how, even though she was the one who put the spell on Kyle, she did sympathize and wanted to see him change. The twist with the relationship between Kendra and Magda was definitely a surprise! I guess the only complaint that I would have would be that we really don't get to see Lindy until almost half-way through the story. However, I can understand *why* this was the case, as the author did need to show some actual growth and change in Kyle before the two could be together.



With a fresh cast of characters, some new plot twists and wonderful character growth, Beastly is one of the best re-tellings I have read in quite some time. Even with its own originality, Beastly manages to keep the main themes of the classic tale and captures the romance between the beauty and the beast brilliantly.

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