Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Beastly by Alex Flinn

This story is a modern day version of Beauty and the Beast. The main character is Kyle Kingsbury - the king of the school. He's popular, pretty and perfect - except for his personality. Kendra decides he needs a bit of an attitude adjustment after he asks her to the homecoming dance only to embarrass her by showing up with a beautiful girl. Kendra, a witch, casts a spell on Kyle, turning him into a beast. She showed him kindness, though, because that day he showed kindness to someone else by giving a plain girl a rose (granted he just gave her the rose because his date didn't want it, but kindness is kindness despite motivation). Instead of killing Kyle or permanently making him a beast, he has two years to find true love and to receive a kiss. Kyle's father, a TV personality, tries his hardest to find a cure for his son, but when everything fails, he buys him a mansion and leaves him there with the housekeeper Magda. Due to threats on Kyle's part, he soon receives a blind tutor named Will to live with him. In the months alone, Kyle develops an interest in books and a love of roses. He builds a greenhouse and comes to accept his lonely life as a beast. One night, though, a druggie breaks into his greenhouse and in order to save his own life, the man offers his daughter for his freedom. Kyle, seeing the opportunity to find love in the girl, takes him up on the offer. Soon Lindy comes to live with him. Coincidentally, Lindy was the plain girl he gave the rose to. As the story of Beauty and the Beast goes, they develop a friendship through their joint studies and love of roses which might turn into more. But of course there needs to be more conflict in which the Kyle lets her leave and he sees his chances of receiving true love's kiss slip away. Will they live happily ever after? What do you think?

I really liked the modern day twist on this classic story. The story did a great job setting up the importance of looks in the most casual and typical of settings. Homecoming was coming up and it opened up the debate of the fact that the only reason people were nominated was because of their looks. Kyle's dad, a TV personality, was the perfect fit for the role because he was in a position where without looks and image, nothing else matters. The novel really showed how the topic is so common today. I also liked how this novel treated Lindy's situation. If she came from a loving household, it'd be harder to accept her being "kidnapped" by the beast. In this story, though, there's a lot of emphasis on how she's better off with him. Here it's not just the beast's needs being met, but also hers. Kyle, as a beast, was a very like-able character. On a interesting note, the novel has sections where Kyle is chatting online to other people who have been transformed. It's just a neat like add-in, especially to see other stories like the Little Mermaid - whose ending bothered me a little bit, but I won't go into detail about that.

That's what I liked. One thing that I didn't find so believable was Kyle/Beast as only a teenager. Maybe I'm too used to the characters being older, but there were scenes where he seemed too old, too insightful to be just 16. It worked at the beginning, but as the story progressed and he was on his own it became less believable. It didn't detract too much from the story, it was just hard to keep in mind that he was still a teenager. That's really my only complaint. It was a really enjoyable story. It was nice to see the characters transform, both physically and emotionally. Fans of classic fairy tales should definitely pick this one up. Even if Beauty and the Beast isn't your favorite story, this one is worthwhile.

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