Title and Author: Beastly by Alex Flinn
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Romance, Retelling
Publication Date: First published October 2, 2007
Pages: 336 pages
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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 the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly
The other day I was leaving a comment on a blog post that read something to the effect of “I’ll have to try that, I really like retold fairy tales.”
And then I had an epiphany, that maybe it would be really cool (for me at least…) to…well not devote myself to retold fairy tales, but maybe focus on them here on the blog.
And lo and behold, on Christmas day, I had downloaded a copy of Beastly that was on sale in the iBookstore. I really wanted Splintered to be my first read of the new year, but I hadn’t ordered a hardcover, because I was going to read the e-book on the 1st…only I discovered the e-book doesn’t come out until the 15th.
Unfortunately, as you call from my star rating above: this was only barely OK. I mean, I finished it, and I didn’t hate it, but it was definitely not as good as I was hoping it would be. Rather than getting lost in the story, I spent most of it wondering how I was going to review it.
And this is going to sound sort of stupid, but I had trouble suspending disbelief on this one. (I know, of all of the SFF I read, I’m going to quibble about whether or not it’s believable?? I guess that’s what makes a book really good: convince me that your outrageous idea is not so outrageous, and I’m yours.)
A lot of my problem was that this was, to my thinking, not an updating of the story: it was just the basics of the original story dropped in to modern day NYC, and that didn’t work for me.
Oddly, I went and looked at the trailer for the movie that was based on this, and THAT actually looks like they did a better job updating the story in a way I might have believed than the book itself did.
Bottom line: there are better retellings of Beauty and the Beast. I’d skip this one and go for something else. Like Beauty, by Robin McKinley. Which I’m currently re-reading.