Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Title: Beastly
Author: Alex Flinn
Tagline: Ever wonder what it was like for the beast?
Pages: 300
Summary (from back):


A beast. Not quite a wolf or a 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.

Kyle Kingsbury is, let's face it, a dick.

He rides through life on his TV anchorman father coattales (and wallet) while silently swooning every girl that comes within an inch of him. He never ceases to remind everyone who will listen how amazingly attractive he really is. He remains happily ignorant of the lives outside his own, including the 'ugly' peoples--those who don't meet his standards of perfection.

Until one day, when Kendra, an obese Gothic girl in his class, calls him out for what he truly is: a beast.

As a joke, he asks Kendra out to the upcoming dance, expecting to ditch her there in favor of his real date, Sloan. But when the day of the dance actually comes, and he finds Kendra not hurt but dissapointed by the public humilation he put her through, he is unsettled.

After getting back from the dance, he finds Kendra in his room. She suddenly transforms from a 'fat Goth' to an attractive young women, who turns Kyle into a 'beast'--fangs, fur, the whole package. She shows him one bit of mercy, though: he has two years to find a girl who will love him, despite his appearence, and get her to kiss him, or live as a monster forever.

Distraught, Kyle hides in his room for the entire weekend, until his neglectfull father finally forces him out. After going to the best doctors and plastic surgeons in the country---"no son of mine is going to look this way"---both he and his father all but give up, his father dumping Kyle into an abadoned, five story mansion, with only their maid, Magda, for company. After threatening his father with going public about his condition, he recieves full access to the Kingsbury bank account, plus a tutor, a blind student named Will. Soon, Kyle has become Adrian--to fit his darker persona--a solitary, desolate being who only leaves the confides of the mansion to tend to his newly created garden. He is a prisoner in his own body, with no hope of finding love--until a robber attempts to rob his home. After catching him, the robber offers Adrian his one chance at returning to how he was--his daughter, Linda.

If there is only one notable thing to say about Alex Flinn's writing, it's that she has an innane ability to make you swoon for three hundred pages straight. During the first hundred pages, it's for poor Kyle/Adrian, who is only now realizing the error of his ways, when it's too late. It's when he watches his past classmates through a mirror Kendra gave him, able to watch anyone he wants, everywhere in the world, and how he pines for his old life. It's when he sits in a corner and watches people go to and from work, wishing desperatley for the freedom of life outside his mansion. Then, it's when he tries to win Linda's--or Lindy's--heart, watching him fall for her himself. I was basically "awwww"ing throughout the entire book. You watch Kyle transform from a selfish, self-absorbed rich d-bag to a kind, gentle--I'll say it--sensitive gentleman. (Once more, with feeling--awww)

Though it is a cute, if rather chaste, romance, there is the issue of believability. I mean, yeah, it's already unlikely that a guy would suddenly become a hairy beast, but that doesn't change the fact that they are still modern teenagers, all of them, and modern teenagers do behave a certain way. I understand that living in a mansion for a year straight, reading books like Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame could change you, I doubt it would change someones complete speech pattern and convince him to change his name. (quite dramatic about it, might I add) The dialogue is a bit drifty, a bit rushed, though this might be to get the plot along. Adrian's interactions with Lindy are a bit...I don't know. I'd say awkward, but that's putting it mildly. First, he acts like a thirty year old, only in the next breath to switch back to his teenage self. I might be alone on this one, but I found it a bit distracting. No matter how beastly he may be, he's still a kid, and kids don't talk like Victorian shadow-dwellers.

I did like Lindy, though. She came off as very real, to me, with her drug addicted father and love of reading (my people!). She's not described as a traditional 'beauty'--far from it. In fact, when Kyle first meets her as a ticket taker at the dance, he describes her as plain, with Ragedy Ann red hair. But as he gets to know her, he starts...erm...I'll say fantisizing about the girl. Again, in a very PG way, but still. It's a little bit of a "woah, calm down, fella" type of feeling. I get that you've been forced into chastidy over the last year in a half, but seriously. There's a point where it's cute and a point where it's annoying.

The only other gripe I have with this book is that Lindy's reaction to finding out Adrian is her long-time secret crush Kyle Kingsbury is not what I expected. I expected it to be a big deal, seeing has he had basically lied about his entire past. As a girl, I'd be a tad pissed (assuming I had come to terms with the fact that he looks like a monster one minute and a supermodel the next--but I'm rather shallow like that), but hey, it's not my book and it's not my character.

Other then that, Beastly is a highly enjoyable book. I read it in one sitting, and just re-read it a few days ago. Again, if your into the "awww" factor, then you'll be in heaven with Kyle and Lindy.

Also: Alex Flinn has a feature on her website called "Alex's Favorite Books", where she suggest titles you might like if you liked her books. So, if your liked Beastly and looking for something similar to it, that'd be the place.

I digress: There also making a movie, with *gag* Vanessa Hudgens as Lindy and Mary-Kate Olsen as Kendra. Also, that kid from Alex Rider as Kyle my homedog Beil Patrick Harris as Will. Not sure how to feel about this, since most adaptions are botched up anyway.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Nely said...

WoW - this is the second blog I see today on this book. I love your review! You write the way I think - does that make sense? Anyway, I found it fresh. Love it - I will have to read this sooner than later - I'm intrigued.

♥ Nely

Nikola said...

This doesn't sound half-bad, though not spectacular either... Do let me know if you all of a sudden decide to do a giveaway, ok? :)

BTW, I'm gonna add you to my blogroll now :)

Bard Girl said...

Hmm I think I'll check it out so I'm off to the library's website because I have yet to come across a book fairy to supply me with books.

Padfoot said...

that book cover is gorgeous!!!

Like your site!

Jessica (BookLover) said...

Great review! I have this book in my TBR pile but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I wish I read faster. :)

Faye said...

Hey Dannie! awesome review!

i read this book and loved it.
I totally agree w/ u on the Vanessa hudgens thing. that sucks.

thanks 4 following my blog. i became a follower of yours. i love 2 get 2 know fellow bloggers :P

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