Friday, October 21, 2011

Review - Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly by Alex Flinn
Librarything / Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Young Adult / Fairy-tale retelling

Rating: 2.5 stars
Pages: 304

Summary:  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 a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

ETA: Apparently Alex is a she. Huh. Anyhow, note that this review was written before Jan set me straight!

Thoughts: Alex Flinn was never a teenager. He went straight from 12 to 20. It's true. How do I know? Well, I read his book Beastly.

Despite what some people may believe, writing about teenagers is like dealing with teenagers... not easy. You have to write about their hormone-fueled decisions without making them seem completely irrational. It's really hard, and your "research" cannot be limited to watching She's All That 30 times. Which is what Alex Flinn did... I can't think of any other explanation.

Beastly just fell flat. Its characters were illogical, one-dimensional creatures, even though they were based off of the brilliant characters from the Beauty and the Beast tale. In short, Flinn's Beauty is an idiot and his Beast a real ass. I mean, would the Beauty we all love - who loves her family as much as they love her - risk her future for a drug-addict Daddy? I think not. And would Beast ever purposefully lie to Beauty? No, because he's a straight-forward ass... not a backstabbing one! *shakes fist* And don't even get me started on the Beast's entourage. I mean, what self-respecting teacher would condone kidnapping a teenage girl for some spoiled hermit? Seriously? Seriously?

Ok, so while Flinn completely missed the mark with his characters, there were some things that I liked in this book. I liked the fact that the novel is told from the Beast's point-of-view. It's a perspective I honestly had never considered. I also liked how Flinn transferred the tale to modern Manhattan - Beast goes to plastic surgeons looking for a cosmetic cure, and he dresses as a Muslim woman in order to go out in public... isn't that just ingenious? Shame it didn't make the characters any more likable.

So... I am giving this book 2.5 stars despite everything I've just written. Why? Well, it's still Beauty and the Beast. And anything Beauty and the Beast is inherently brilliant - even when it misses the mark.

Bottom line? Not worth reading unless you're a die-hard Beauty and the Beast fan. And even then...


  1. I quite agree with most of your criticizm and I bashed this book as well in my review. Still I liked the idea as I enjoy clever retellings of well-known fairy tales.

  2. I had trouble with this too, and mainly because I was biased towards the Disney version. Not only that, but Flinn's fitting of the characters into the modern was very...awkward.

    Great review.

  3. Just a heads up Alex Flinn is a she. I actually enjoyed this retelling, but hated the movie. I use this book and another of Flinn's retelling to have my students do a compare contrast between the original fairy tale and Flinn's modern version. The differences are very pronounced and the kids love it.

  4. I really liked this book and I finished it in one sitting. It is a great retelling of the well known fairy tail "Beauty and the Beast". There are a lot of similar situations that seem to be pulled from the Disney version of the story but they are given a great new twist. The enchantress plays a bigger role in Flinn's version of the story as well. I recommend this book and I also suggest you all read it.



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