Author: Alex Flinn
Publish Date: October 2nd, 2007
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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 the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
I initially placed this book on my To-Read shelf on a bit of a whim – the summary hadn’t exactly won me over, and some of the reviews were none too forgiving. However, I figured that I needed to broaden my horizons and give it a try, instead of trying to judge a book by its cover. So here I am, 24 hours after starting the book (It’s definitely saying something when it takes me an entire day to read 300 pages), and somewhat regretting picking up Beastly.
High school junior, Kyle Kingsbury, has the perfect life – he’s popular, rich, and highly envied by those around him. He takes his good looks, luxurious lifestyle, and attractive girlfriend for granted, often occupying himself by degrading those he labels as ugly, overweight, shy, nerdy, etc. That is, until a certain girl stands up to him, flinging an insult right back at him. Wishing to teach Kyle a lesson, she casts a spell on him, a spell that takes away any physical beauty, relegating him to the appearance of a monster…a beast. Kyle has two years to fall truly in love with someone, falling in love with her personality and traits instead of her appearance. If Kyle fails to procure a kiss from his true love within the two-year timeframe, he will remain beastly forever.
The book begins with a rather confusing conversation occurring in an online chatroom. Confusing as in readers are completely unfamiliar with the characters participating in the chat and are unsure of what each user has undergone, leading to a rather baffling first 10 pages. After struggling through this uncommon introduction, readers transition to more stereotypical text (dialogue, descriptions, etc.). The writing style flip flops back and forth between the chat room scenario and traditional prose throughout the course of the novel. I definitely preferred the standard writing to the chat room context – it was much easier to follow and comprehend what exactly had transpired.
While Beastly certainly has an original premise, the remainder of the plot lacked originality. For the most part, it was boring and predictable, right down to the supposedly “dramatic” ending. The characters, meanwhile, seemed oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Have you ever started screaming at an actor/actress on tv not to wander down the dark alleyway where the man with the knife was standing? If you have, then you would understand how I was feeling. Now imagine experiencing that for 300 pages. Exactly. It was torturous. Luckily, the majority of my hair still appears to be attached to my head.
The characters appeared shallow – our main character, Kyle, is initially characterized as an arrogant snob who has no reservations about degrading those he perceives as beneath him. After working to reverse the effects of the curse, however, Kyle experiences a sudden and immediate change in personality, suddenly adopting a kind and considerate attitude toward those around him. This rapid about-face came across as phony and unrealistic. Honestly, who undergoes a complete personality reversal overnight? Additionally, those around him seem much too eager to abruptly accept Kyle’s new attitude, never pausing to question the cause of this dramatic change. Because that makes perfect sense.
The romance was … disappointing … unbelievable … phony. Kyle’s relationship with Lindy seemed very cliche and forced. Their relationship lacked depth and emotion, resulting in very flat, disengaging encounters. To be honest, I tended to skim the sections involving their “gradually building” romance. Disney’s animated production of Beauty and the Beast could better quench your thirst for a little romance (astonishing, I know).
I’m glad to have finally gotten that little mini-rant off my chest. I could go on for another thirty paragraphs, but I think I should spare everyone by curtailing my review here. Needless to say, I won’t be purchasing any Alex Flinn books in the near future. That would probably be best both for my sanity – and for all of yours.