Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly is the book by Alex Flinn which was recently made into a major motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella from High School Musical) and Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four).  The movie has led to the release of paperbacks of the book with the movie tie in cover that you can see below.  Beastly is a sort of modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast stories/legends.  I picked this up at the library after hearing from blogger friends that they loved the book and were worried that the movie would ruin the book.  (Eragon, anyone?!) I really enjoyed this book.  It is a thin paperback and it reads pretty quick once you start.  The story really draws you in and keeps you invested until the end. 

Basically, this is the story of Kyle who is the handsome son of a New York City news anchor.  He has been raised by his dad to believe that everyone has a price and that to be attractive is to be better than everyone else.  Kyle is nasty and selfish.  He uses people and they use him.  Love doesn't exist in his world.  One day he picks on the wrong girl at school and she turns out to be a real witch.  No really, she casts spells and what not.  This witch curses him so that his outside should match his inside and he should appear as beastly as she knows him to be.  However, because the witch witnessed him perform one small act of kindness, she gives him the chance to return to the way he looked before.  Kyle has two years to get someone to fall in love with him regardless of what he looks like and to give him true Love's kiss.  The kiss will return him to his original appearance.  Kyle's dad leaves him in a home across town with the housekeeper and doesn't return.  Kyle blackmails his dad to get a tutor and he begins to settle in with Will and Magda.  The transformation is slow to progress as Kyle gets further help from the witch, Kendra, in the form of a magic mirror which can show him anyone in the world, anywhere in the world.  He uses the mirror to see that his former friends have nearly forgotten him but he also finds that he had not known even half of the kids he went to school with.  He particularly likes watching Linda, the girl he gave a rose at the school dance.  Linda's dad is a druggie who tries to break into Kyle's house one night.  Kyle catches him and threatens him.  Linda's dad offers her up to Kyle to keep his freedom.  Kyle takes the man's offer as a way to get Linda free of him and because he wants to know her.  Will Linda fall for Kyle as the beast that he appears to be or will he be forever cursed?

Watching Kyle's transformation was one of the best parts of this book.  He is a genuine JERK in the beginning and it is no instant, miraculous transformation.  The changes occur slowly and over time.  He develops a love of roses and begins to treat the servants as people, even friends.  He reaches out to Linda, who he never would have paid much attention to before, and he falls in love with her.  The change is dramatic, beautiful and most importantly, believable.  Linda is a great character too.  In Linda, you see a girl who has fought tooth and nail to be someone, to make something of herself and to rise above her roots.  She got a scholarship to an elite private school on her own, is in all the honor societies and takes care of her drug addicted father all on her own.  She is beautiful but Kyle doesn't notice at first because she wears baggy second hand clothes and buries her nose in a book.  When he sees her strength and beauty, he can't help but fall for this girl from the wrong side of town.  She sees worth in him even when he was nasty Kyle the jerk.

All in all, this was a beautiful book.  It reminds us all, like Beaty and the Beast, that it is what is on the inside that counts and that's a very important lesson to remember in our modern world of fame and movie stars.  I would suggest it for teens over 14 as there are some moments that might be inn appropriate for a younger audience.  You can find out more about Alex Flinn and her other books on her website.  She has two other books that retell fairy tales: Cloaked and A Kiss In Time.   So be sure to check all her books out!

Beastly earns 5 Fairies for a wonderful retelling of a classic fairy tale.


Lisa said...

Great review! I'm looking forward to reading this now. I was worried before that it wouldn't be as good as I'd hoped! :)

Michele L said...

My daughter saw the and loved it. I myself, want to read the book first before I see the movie because books are always better!!!

Megan said...

books are better!!! I really liked this book. Really. It was worth the time for sure!! :) Thanks for the comments girls.