Sunday, February 20, 2011


I could feel everyone looking at me, but I was used to it.

It was on the internet about a new movie named Beastly, starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer(who on a side note i would like to say would be a great Jace for the Mortal Instruments series movies). The descriptions everywhere said that the movie is a modern re-telling of the age old fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, a YA book. At the time when I watched the trailer I had no notion that it was actually a book that was being made into a motion picture. It was actually on a book of month poll in one the reader groups that I came across the book. So I went an got the book and it was actually very good. A really enjoyable book.

As the Summary of the book goes,

Kyle Kingsbury is a gorgeous high school freshman, spoiled rotten by his famous anchorman father, a man who'd rather dole out cash than affection. Kyle attends the exclusive Tuttle School in New York City and torments those poor unfortunates who lack his looks and wealth. When he humiliates a girl at school, she transforms him into a horrific-looking creature. Kyle's only hope for breaking the spell lies in finding true love-as he reports online in meetings of the Unexpected Changes chat group (other members include Froggie and the mermaid Silent Maid).

Beastly as I had already stated above is a modern day retelling of the fairytale “Beauty and the Beast.” Kyle Kingsbury is a sixteen-year-old at a private high school. He’s everything that every girl wants, and every guy wants to be: rich, gorgeous, charismatic. When he plays a nasty prank on an ugly girl at school, he gets the shock of a lifetime when he discovers that she is a witch. She puts a curse on him, making him as beastly on the outside as he is on the inside. He has two years to break the curse, two years in which he must find a girl who will look beyond his horrible exterior and love him.

Alex Flinn has taken the typical tale we all know so well, and dolled it with wonderful characters and the story of a shallow young man finding out that there is more to life than beauty and money, that there is value in kindness and intelligence and self-sacrifice. Kyle’s transformation goes so much deeper than his change on the outside. He is helped along the path by his blind tutor, Will, and his housekeeper, Magda. They show him how to love unconditionally, how to become a person that a girl may find worthy of love.

The contemporary style of the novel was definitely up to the mark and the modern dialogue delivery was perfectly done. and that it was from the Beast's point of view. Kyle really does change from a beastly rich boy (Kendra, the witch who curses him, calls him this the first time he's mean to her) into a smart young man who can love someone other than his own reflection. I liked the fact that Lindy, his "Belle," isn't actually a Beauty - she's just a normal girl. The online chat group (run by a "Mr. Anderson") was a neat touch. I think the thought that you could find a chat group for even magical changes in this day and age is rather an enchanting thought.

Flinn captures the cocky male adolescent voice really well. The meanness is there. The sex obsession is there, but we're not forced to read about it, making it appropriate for young readers. (When Kyle has sex with the rich chick, it goes on behind closed doors, so we just read that it happened, not the play-by-play.)

And she does a terrific job working the fairy tale into modern life. How she handles the rich father, the witch, the girl whose dad easily trades her for his freedom, the roses, the mirror, the servant, and the benefits for the others in the "castle," etc. are all skillfully worked in. I can't see that she misses anything at all. Flinn even includes fun little interludes of internet group counseling with other "transformed" creatures: the little mermaid, Snow White and Rose Red, the Frog Prince.

Above all the retelling business is that it is all believable - loved the believable way she showed us Kyle changing, transforming. And of course there's the wonderful blooming of true love. All this adds up to a truly delightful book that I hope will become wildly popular with teens. The book does a solid job of giving us a fresh perspective to the original in keeping with the drama and the element of intrigue high.

At the heart of it, the tale of the beauty and the beast goes back hundreds of years. But people understood the effects of testosterone long before anyone had a clue what hormones were or what they did. Hormones haven't changed, so human nature hasn't. That's why the story still works today. Even the girl Flinn puts in the story to save the Beast, although he overlooks her at first because she wears unstylish clothing, turns out to have a hot figure as soon as he sees her dressed up.

The Magic is real and it is there, but tis a modern setting. And even though the story was predictable, how could it not be? I was turning the pages faster and faster as I came to the end. This is a wonderful re-imagining of a tale that has much to teach us about what true beauty is.

And any adults, who will admit to enjoying Twilight, let me urge you to give Beastly a try, as well as those who love to read YA and fairytales.      


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