Sunday, May 12, 2013

REVIEW: BEASTLY by Alex Flinn


Title: Beastly
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: October 2, 2007
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Purchased
My star rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

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.

REVIEW

Judging by the astounding amount of reviews this book has received, I’m clearly a latecomer to this well-loved novel. As a side note, I haven’t seen the movie either and until yesterday, I haven’t even known there is a movie based on this book. So, I’m just going to add my voice to a couple hundred others and tell you why I enjoyed this story so much.

Just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good.

I love the essence of this story which I feel is also captured in the immortal words of one of my all-time favorite pop groups from the 80s, the Pet Shop Boys; from one of their more recent hit singles, Love, Etc,: “Don’t have to be beautiful, but it helps.” It’s what I’d choose as a theme-song for this lovely book as it also details how it’s not what you own, what you can do, or what you have on the outside, to love and be loved. I believe with this song they were making the same point Alex Flinn is making with this modern-day interpretation of the classic, Beauty and the Beast (and yes, she did a fantastic job!). Ms Flinn simply reiterated the saying “beauty’s in the eye of the beholder”.

“Maybe we judge people too much by their looks because it’s easier than seeing what’s really important.”

Just about everyone knows the tale of Beauty and the Beast, or had seen the Disney movie adaptation, so it is easy to spot the similarities. Same message, same old story? Yes, indeed. But the author wrote it in a voice that will be easily understood by today’s youth. Two teenagers, one the shallow, rich son of a famous news anchor, and the other a poor, abused daughter of a drug addict. Instead of magic teacups and singing candelabra, the author substituted them with a blind tutor and an aging cleaning lady. The palace was replaced with a five-story mansion in Brooklyn, New York, and of course Kyle – who later becomes the beast and changes his name to Adrian – goes to a posh private school where most of the other students are as obsessed with beauty, money and popularity as he is.

About the characters. Kyle is an obnoxious, rude, self-centered little brat. The author went all out portraying him as the shallowest boy you can possibly imagine. Usually I don’t like it when an author so blatantly pushes it in my face how evil or malicious a character can be. You know? Like the author is saying I won’t get it if she’s too subtle about it? But in Beastly, I understand why the author was so brutal about Kyle’s selfishness. When Kyle/Adrian’s transformation finally happens and he discovers the value of friendship, love, and beauty that can’t be measured at face value, it has a bigger impact on the reader. The way she did it, it works. Sadly, with the exception of Lindy, she didn’t develop some of the other characters; ones I deemed key characters crucial to the story. At first I didn’t like Lindy either, and even though she grew on me, I still wasn’t too fond of her at the finale. Kyle’s dad had more of an effect on me than Lindy did. Whichever way, I still enjoyed the story tremendously. Mostly for Kyle/Adrian’s transformation and the message about inner beauty, judging others and the value of worldly possessions versus free will and love.

I haven’t read any of this author’s other works yet, but I’m looking forward to discovering more of her books. Beastly is a quick, easy read perfect for readers aged thirteen and up.

 



 


READ more REVIEWS

Beastly by Alex Flinn has 5996 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.

For those of you who, like me, haven’t seen the movie yet, click here to watch the official movie trailer of Beastly, based on the novel by Alex Flinn.




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