Sunday, July 4, 2010

Reivew/ Beastly by Alex Flinn

Sunday, July 4, 2010
Like many fans of YA book, I am a sucker for fairytale retellings. So when I saw a trailer for the new movie, Beastly, I wanted to read the book the movie is based on. I am glad I did because I loved it!

Beastly is a modern urban take on Beauty and the Beast. From the outside, Kyle Kingsbury is a popular, handsome, hunk at a prestigious private school in New York: a place where good look and money is the key to success, but inside Kyle is an arrogant, self-centered jerk. He is also cruel and snubs anyone who is not beautiful.  When Kyle is transformed into a beast by Kendra, a witch, and given two years to find true love Kyle is isolated from his friends, school and even his father, whose main concern is to keep Kyle’s “condition” hidden because it might ruin his TV career. Kyle’s only contact with other humans is through the Internet, and with his blind tutor, Will, and his housekeeper, Magda. When Kyle catches a thief breaking into his house, the man exchanges his daughter, Lindy, for his freedom. The questions is can Kyle transform enough for Lindy to look past the outer beast and love the person he is inside?

Alex Flinn did a marvelous job with this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. He effectively gives Kyle a voice that made me cringe from his arrogance and cruelty to those who did not measure up physically to his superficial standards. More importantly, through Flinn’s excellent characterization, my initial reaction to Kyle slowly transforms along with him. By the end of the story, I was elated with how everything turned out.

I loved the way Flinn took aspects of the original fairytale and either incorporated or completely changed them into his retelling. For example, the rose, which in both the original tale and Flinn’s is how both fathers are caught by the Beast and made to promise to return with their daughters. The rose in Beastly takes on an even stronger significance because it becomes Kyle’s way to bring beauty into his otherwise ugly world, and because Lindy loves roses. The rose also helps Kyle begin his relationship with Lindy.

Another aspect Flinn incorporated into his story that was also present in the original was the magic mirror. In the original tale, the Beast allowed Beauty to use the mirror when she told him how much she missed her father. Her father was so distraught over Beauty living with the Beast that she was allowed to visit him for a week with the promise to return. Flinn, expands the use of the mirror to allow Kendra, the witch to be in contact with Kyle, and allows Kyle to see anyone he wants to see. Kyle begins to use the mirror to watch Lindy and finds out that she loves books, and that her father, a drug addict, abuses her. Kyle gains important insights about Lindy, and these insights eventually help him change things about himself by finding similar interests with Lindy through the books she reads. The mirror also becomes Lindy’s reason for leaving Kyle and helps add suspense to the climax of the story.

Some fresh elements that Flinn creates in Beastly adds a lot more depth to the retelling than is found in the original tale. I loved both the addition of Will, Kyle’s blind tutor, and Magda, Kyle’s housekeeper. Both of these characters were important in Kyle’s transformation from the person he was to the person he becomes. I also liked the New York setting, which certainly helped give a modern urban feel to this fairytale. Finally, I absolutely loved how Flinn uses several unselfish acts at the end of the story to show Kyle’s complete transformation.

While the basic theme of both stories is about judging an individual based on what is outside verses what is inside, I think Flinn’s version provides a dimension that is lacking from the original. Beastly effectively shows that if love is true it has the ability to transform us into a person who is willing to unselfishly act in the interest of others.

If you have not read Beastly and love fairytale retellings, I highly recommend that your check out this dazzling, and enchanting book. I am also very interested in seeing the Beastly movie even though I can already see that the script takes some typical Hollywood liberties with Flinn’s story.

12 comments:

Aleksandra said...

I'm glad you loved it, 'cause I'm planning to read it soon :)

Darlyn said...

Another superlicious book I've been eyeing.. ;p

Book Sake said...

Oh I'm glad that you loved it. I have been wanting to read this book as well, hopefully I will get to it before the movie comes out. - Jessica

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Oh, wow, this sounds amazing! Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairy-tale and I would definitely like to read this re-telling; I'll put it on my TBR list. I love how insightful your review is. It really gave me a good idea of the book and it wetted my appetite. Thanks for sharing!

Rhiana said...

Fantastic Review Jan, I do have this to read and I'm honestly really excited to now.

Staci said...

Awesome review of a fantastic book. I totally loved it and thought she did a great job!

Emidy said...

Sounds fantastic! I haven't read a fairytale retelling ever, so I'm interested in experiencing it. Maybe I'll start with this one!

Lori said...

I've had this on my To Read List for a long time! I really love retellings and this sounds like a great one! Love your review!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I too love the remake books on the stories we grew up with. I remember I was blown away by Wicked - mainly because I thought it was brilliant to breathe life into a sort of back ground character and explain - why was she so mean.... and for that matter why was she green? :)

PAPER BACK NOVEL said...

I so enjoyed this story mainly because I love modern spins on fairytales. Loved your review!

Elena said...

This is my favorite book!! Love your review!

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