Book Review: “Beastly”

Back when I saw the movie Beastly with Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgins I didn’t realize it was a book. Of course, when I found out it was a book and part of a series, I wanted to read it. I have to admit I’ve had Beastly by Alex Flinn on my bookcase for several years now, but I finally got around to reading it last year.

I rarely say this when it comes to movies based on books, even if it’s “loosely” based, but I enjoyed the movie more. I found the book lacking. The premise is an adaptation of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale but with a modern twist and from the perspective of the beast himself. In this case, the beast is a teenage boy, Kyle, who is so self-absorbed it was difficult at times to get past his droning inner monologues.

Kyle is the picture-perfect rich kid who is cursed by a witch to live ugly (beastly) until he can break the spell. His also self-absorbed father banishes him to live away from his home with a maid and blind tutor. There Kyle spends an exorbitant amount of time feeling bad for himself and giving very little effort towards breaking the spell. When chance brings him a girl that he essentially keeps as a prisoner, he begins to fall in love with her and must find a way to make her fall in love with him. And you basically know how it ends.

The book was a fairly easy read and written for a young teen audience so it was quick to get through which I enjoyed considering some of the books I read are 400+ pages. I understood the main character’s vanity and overall ugly personality but it was too much for my liking. Generally speaking, you’re supposed to almost fall in love with the protagonist and root for them to be successful but I wanted Linda, Kyle’s love interest, to run far away. The character development wasn’t really there and what little there was, was such a slow burn it wasn’t engaging enough for me. I liked the storyline and I liked the deeper message it was trying to convey, but the writing was a bit lackluster.

Additionally, Kyle is a part of this mythical creatures support group that ties in various other fairytale characters looking to change their life to break some sort of curse or find love and I thought it was a clever tie-in but it also brought up the idea that Kyle’s situation wasn’t unique and that didn’t really play into the story well in my opinion. It opened this door of a different world where magic was common and witches placed curses on people frequently, but that world didn’t expand beyond the support group chat which didn’t track. It felt like an additive that wasn’t thought through.

As I said in the beginning, the movie was good and I would recommend seeing that over reading the book. Overall, I don’t regret reading the book, and because it was different enough from the movie it kept me reading till the end. However, because of the style of writing and lack of character development, I wouldn’t read the next book in the series which I understand is almost a stand-alone book itself. I still have to give kudos to Flinn for adapting a classic tale for a modern young audience. It’s difficult to take a well-known fairytale and mold it into something new and I think the idea behind the story and plot was clever and stood out from other adaptations.

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