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Review: Beastly

Beastly by Alex Flinn was originally released on October 2, 2007. It is currently available in hardcover, paperback, audio and eBook formats. A new audio CD and paperback movie tie-in edition will be released on February 8, 2011.

A movie is being made based on the book. It will be in theaters on March 18, 2011 in the U.S. so if you are considering reading it, you may want to check it out prior to movie release.

A trailer can be found at the film’s official website or you can watch it below. The movie actually looks pretty interesting, but if you’re like me you’ll want to read the book first. I don’t usually discuss or promote film versions of books that I am reviewing, but the upcoming movie was the reason for my re-read.

Description from the author’s website:

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.

Kyle Kingsbury had everything – money, looks, popularity. The one thing he didn’t have was a heart. His arrogance and cruelty finally caught up with him one day when he messed with the wrong girl.

Kendra Hilferty may have appeared to be a homely Goth girl, but she was really a witch. And when Kyle decided to play a little prank on her by asking her to a dance as his date, when he had no intention of accompanying her, he found out just what repercussions he would face.

Kendra placed a curse on him, one that would make his outward appearance match what was inside. No longer would he be the handsome and cruel ninth grade prince. No, Kyle would become a beast.

Unless he could find someone who he could love and could love him back, enough to give him a kiss, his outward appearance would remain beastly. There was a time limit. He had two years. And if he didn’t succeed he would forever be a creature that would be forced to remain in the shadows, one that would be despised.

Would Kyle be able to find someone to look past outward appearances as he never could? And even if he could, would he find a heart within himself to allow him to love someone back?

Two years may seem like an eternity when trapped in the body of a beast, but for someone who has never experienced love, the time could pass in a heartbeat. Would Kyle be too late?

***

Beastly is a modern take on the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast. While the idea for the story itself may not be original, this is fresh new look at this popular love story, written in an urban setting with teenage characters.

Kyle Kingsbury is an arrogant, privileged and entitled young man. He has no second thoughts when choosing to treat his peers as if they were beneath him. But one act of unintended kindness may be his salvation – the simple act of giving an unwanted rose to a young girl.

Author Alex Flinn has created a sweet, funny and delightful tale in Beastly. As difficult as it is to imagine a fairytale set in New York City, this story makes it seem possible. Watching Kyle Kingsbury transform into Adrian King as he learns to appreciate those around him and fall in love with Linda Owens is heartwarming.

As Kyle begins to shed his preconceived notions about appearance and learns to look at what is inside, he realizes what he has been missing his entire life, and Lindy, Will and Magda are there to show him and make him see what love really is.

Although a modern recreation, the story still continues the lessons that the original put forth – that “beauty is only skin deep” and “if you love something let it go.”

Ms. Flinn introduces an amusing addition to this story with the “Unexpected Changes” chat group sessions with Kyle/Adrian (BeastNYC) and some other unfortunate souls in similar predicaments at the beginning of each chapter. Her writing style is effortless with a number of poignant and eloquent passages that stand out.

“A beautiful thing is precious, no matter the price. Those who do not know how to see the precious things in life will never be happy. I wish you to be happy, Mr. Kyle.” (Magda to Kyle)

“[Y]ou’d better hope you never get ugly, Kyle. You are ugly now, on the inside, where it matters most, and if you ever lost your good looks, I bet you wouldn’t be smart or strong enough to get them back. Kyle Kingbury, you are beastly.” (Kendra to Kyle)

This story will be enjoyable for middle grade and young adult readers as well as anyone who loves a fairytale. And as with most fairytales, this one has a “happily ever after” ending.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=3]

On a personal note:

I really liked this story – both times I read it. I’m glad I had a chance to read it again as I liked it a bit more the second time around. While very much the traditional fairytale with morals and lessons, this one isn’t too saccharine.

Kyle was your typical “guy you love to hate” who finally gets what’s coming to him. And Lindy was the quintessential plain, smart, sweet, poor and mistreated girl that can thaw even the coldest of hearts.

Although the roses were a key element, it did come across somewhat unnatural for someone of Kyle/Adrian’s age to be tending a greenhouse, even if he was stuck in the body of a beast. But the author did a great job of trying to adapt this for present day New York.

I am looking forward to the release of Cloaked which is due out in February.

How I “discovered” this book:

Beastly is a “Just Discovered” re-read book.

I had actually read this book quite awhile ago, long before I was writing reviews and well before I added this book to my list on Goodreads. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I originally read it sitting at a bookstore, without having purchased the book.

I wasn’t sure if this was a book I’d be interested in so I thought I’d check it out while enjoying a lovely coffee beverage. The book was such a quick read that I finished it at the bookstore, but I did not buy it. Mild guilt ensued, but I figured if I ever wanted to read it again I could always purchase it. (This was before I owned my collection of eReaders.)

When I saw that there was going to be a movie made of the book, one which I will probably not see in theaters but will rent on iTunes, I decided I’d like to buy it and re-read it beforehand. As I now have several eReaders it made the decision very easy. No shelf space required and I’d get to keep it should I want to revisit it down the road.

I may have re-read this too soon, as the movie isn’t out until March, but the movie trailer was pretty cool and piqued my interest to read it now versus later. And as it is such a quick read, it doesn’t cut into too much of my time reading all those new releases.

***

An excerpt from the book can be found at the author’s website along with more information about the upcoming film.

Movie trailer for Beastly:

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