By Alex Flinn
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2007, HarperTeen
Paperback, 304 pages
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.I have a small obsession with the classic fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, so any time a new retelling comes out, I must read it. This version written by Alex Flinn is both modernized and aimed at the Young Adult genre. I was curious to see how closely it would parallel the original fairy tale and still feel like an original story, and I think that it succeeded fairly well. There were parts that felt cliche, and it certainly verged into the realm of fantasy with the presence of the witch, but not so much that I was bothered by these elements. Plus, I liked the ways that the author diverged from the original tale and added new elements, such as the continuing involvement of the witch and the character of Kyle's father.
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 the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
The plot wraps around the character of Kyle Kingsbury, who becomes the Beast. The book mainly felt like a character study as he progressed from a conceited, self-involved boy to a self-sacrificing, repentant young man. This is certainly a change from most retellings of this tale, since it is usually from the viewpoint of the character who plays the role of "Beauty." Many of the side characters were also just as fascinating, such as the blind tutor who comes to live with Kyle. I love the fascination that Kyle adopted for roses and the details of their care that were included in the book, it gave the book more depth. Probably the most exciting part of the book was his frantic race through New York City and the way that he handled the reactions that he created during this foray.
I know that this book was turned into a movie recently. I have not seen it as of yet, other than the previews, but I do look forward to it. But I already know of one major difference that the movie has from the book, and that is Kyle's beastly appearance is changed to resemble extravagant and disfiguring tattoos. I'll reserve opinion on this until after I've seen the movie.
The Cover: I like the simplicity of the white rose, which is used throughout this book. Nothing flashy and it's to the point.
First Lines: "I could feel everyone looking at me, but I was used to it. One thing my dad taught me early and often was to act like nothing moved me. When you're special, like we were, people were bound to notice."
The arrogance of the boy who eventually turns into a beast just oozes off the page. This opening promises to satisfy my expectations.
Favorite Quote: "Every girl pretends she is a princess at one point, no matter how little her life is like that."
Read For: Read a Myth Challenge, Twenty-Eleven Challenge