Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Book Jacket

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 who I became perfectly...beastly.


This book was doomed from the start.  I adore the Disney movie that inspired it, and I hated the movie that was made from it.  I figured the book would land somewhere between the two, and it did.  Unfortunately, it was much nearer the hating than the adoring.

I'm all for modern adaptations of fairy tales, and there were some moments that really worked.  Scorning the witch at a school dance made sense, and holing up in a mansion in Brooklyn will make all subsequent trips to NYC very entertaining.  "Do you think a beast lives in that house?  Or maybe that one?  Oh, definitely THAT one!"

However, the bad outweighed the good for me.  In Beauty and the Beast, I rooted for the romance because neither of them wanted it.  They fell in love despite bad first impressions and horrible circumstances.  But in Beastly, Adrian (Kyle changes his name after the transformation) kidnaps Lindy (the Belle of this story) for the sole purpose of falling in love and making her love him.  I'm sorry, but...I don't think true love works that way?  I didn't buy it, at least.

And Kyle/Adrian rubbed me the wrong way whether he was a narcissistic human jerk or an emo beast.  He wants to impress Lindy by appearing smart, but then decides to "let her" be the smart one.  What!?  No.  She could beat his intellectual hide any day; she does not need anyone to "let" her be smart. 

That's a small point, but it sums up my biggest problem with this adaptation.  Even when at his best, Kyle/Adrian is always thinking about himself.  He never really seems to learn selflessness, and because of that, I don't believe that his love for Lindy is pure, and I doubt that it can last in a fairy tale happily ever after way, no matter what the book wants me to think.

Two out of five green houses.

Release Date:  October 2007
Reading Level: Grade 8+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  LINCOLN

1 comment:

  1. An updated telling of Beauty and the Beast with enough nods to contemporary culture to make it fresh. An online chat group for creatures transformed by magic provides this modern twist along with comic relief, in what otherwise is a fairy tale about seeing beyond mere appearances and choosing love.