In light of the upcoming release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, I decided I’d do a review on my favorite retelling of the classic tale. If you are unfamiliar to Alex Flinn‘s work, the woman is talented at re-imagining fairy tales into modern day adventures. Beastly was the first book I picked up back in high school. I enjoyed it so much, I read it a second time with my husband (who, at the time, was still my boyfriend). We were excited to learn it was going to be adapted into a film and bought it immediately when it became available on DVD. Sadly, the live action didn’t live up to the greatness that is the novel.
Taking place in New York, Kyle Kingsbury is the most rich, popular, and good looking guy at his school and he knows it. The son of a big shot news anchor, it’s been drilled into his head that beautiful people will always be ahead in life. Kyle goes his entire high school career being nothing more than a jerk to the “ugly people”, until he crosses the one girl. Kendra doesn’t like his pig headed beliefs and actions. Choosing to take matters into her own powerful hands, she curses him to look like a hideous beast– letting his outside match his inside. He has until the last petal falls on a white rose for someone to love him in order to break the spell. Roughly, it’s the same gist of the original fairy tale. What’s different this time around is we get the Beast’s emotional and heartbreaking point of view of the events. He quickly learns that the people he treated as less are the only ones he can rely on , his own father moving him into seclusion to avoid public embarrassment after going to doctor after doctor with no hope to fix his “condition.”
With the cons, I can only say that if follows the formula of Beauty and the Beast closely. Guy is self-centered, he gets the wrong witch angry and is turned into a monster and isolates himself, girl comes into his life and teaches him there’s more to life than looks, risks life to save girl, girl realizes feelings and breaks spell. If you’re a hardcore Beauty and the Beast fan, this may or may not bother you. It didn’t for me, but I can imagine it upsetting others.
A big pro I have for this novel is that it’s written in a male’s point of view. Obviously it will be if we’re reading it from the Beast’s eyes, but with there being so little teen novels with male protagonists compared to female protagonist, this is a good change of pace. I know it isn’t important to many, but diversity is top priority on my list. I believe boys will pick up a book more often if the character is someone they can relate to. Another pro is how modern the story is. Again, something not important to most, but worth noting for those who do care. The plot starts of in high school and transitions to a brownstone in and about the streets of New York. The adults in Kyle’s life have they’re own stories and realistic jobs for people under their circumstances. It sheds light in other ways than the regular “Beauty is skin deep”.
Whether or not you pick this up, I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing the live action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. As you know, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and with Emma Watson cast as Belle, nothing is stopping me from seeing this film. The original Disney film was magical as it was, but, based on how great Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book were, Beauty and the Beast will be absolutely breathtaking.