"Kyle Kingsbury, you are beastly."
That's what Kendra said. Beastly. But Kyle had it all: popularity, good looks, money, and any girl he wanted. Kyle never missed an opportunity to let the inferior people know just how far beneath him they were, including his best friend, whose dad was merely a doctor. Kyle's dad was the nightly New York City news anchor. At Tuttle, an elite school for the richest of the rich, Kyle was a somebody.
Until the school dance. Until his stupid maid bought his girlfriend a rose instead of an orchid for her corsage, which Kyle tossed to a scholarship student. Until he deliberately set up Kendra to be embarrassed and humiliated when she realized that he, Prince of the dance, already had a date and never intended to be her escort.
Until Kendra appeared in his bedroom and he received his "comeuppance."
"You will know what it is like not to be beautiful, to be as ugly on the outside as on the inside..."
The clock struck midnight and Kyle was left a beast, with only a magic mirror for company.
Kyle's famous dad vows to spend whatever it takes to cure his son's affliction. When he realizes even his money isn't enough to find a cure, he banishes his son, with their maid and a tutor, to a New York brownstone.
Will Kyle ever be able to break the curse? Will he find true love's kiss or be forever doomed to roam the New York City streets in the dark of night, hidden as the beast?
BEASTLY, by Alex Flinn, is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This novel is just plain fun . Ms. Flinn creates the perfect romantic tension when Kyle finds his true love and then has to let her go. Like the fragrance of the perfect rose, BEASTLY will linger with the reader, leaving the feeling that life is indeed good long after the pages of the book have been pressed closed.
Reviewed by: Cana Rensberger
on 22 November 2009
'Once upon a time a handsome, conceited prince lets his ego and his shallowness affect his judgement on the wrong person and a witch cursed him and turned him into a beast until he could get someone to look past the surface and love him for himself.'
Everyone knows the story but what is great about this is that it takes that simple concept and allows us to see it set in a modern time, and what exactly the 'Beast' goes through. This is well written, and will appeal to a broad range of people and it will be difficult to put down. We don't have singing teapots here, instead we have overly vain father's who hide their son because they don't 'fit in' with everyone else anymore, spoiled brats whose only interest is the surface beauty and junkie theives who will see their own daughter to anyone if they can get away with it. The main character is Kyle who is a spoiled little rich boy who dates the right girl, has the right friends, says the right thing and doesn't think twice about dismissing anyone not of his station. He makes the mistake of trying to humiliate the wrong girl at a school dance, and suffers the consequence as she transform from awkward goth girl into a witch and curses him to become beast. He has two years to find someone to love him for himself and we get to see how Kyle tries to cope with how the world works when you don't fit in it. His girlfriend, his friends and even his father abandon him and he is left with nothing but his blind tutor (Will), his maid Magda and a rose garden until chance hands him an opportunity when a girl is given to him in exchange for him not sending a junkie to prison for breaking and entry.
It is a charming take on the story and very refreshing to read it from the male perspective. His struggles with his depression about his curse, his gradual acceptance and his change from being the vile, abhorrent boy at the beginning to the sweet, good man at the end is told very well. We see it happen, and you can't help but root for him.
If you want a quick read that will ultimately leave you smiling and be read again and again, this is the book for you. I'm a sucker for modern fairy tales, so if you like that sort of thing then give this a chance because you won't regret it.
on 11 July 2013
This review was originally posted at: [...]
"You are ugly now, on the inside, where it matters most...you are beastly."
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Beastly is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with a modern twist. I actually picked up this book after watching the movie adaptation of Beastly (I am so glad that I did because the book is so much better). I was curious to find out whether the author had given Kyle Kingsbury the tattoos and scars, or if this was the movie makers' decision. It turns out this was the movie makers decision, thankfully as Kyle is your more typical Beast in Beastly, "not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright," in the book.
The story follows Kyle Kingsbury, a high school student, who has it all. He is good looking and popular. He has an ugly personality though and is often found saying things like, "when you're a kid, they tell you that it's what's on the inside that counts. Looks don't matter. But that's not true. Guys like Phoebus in The Hunchback, or Dorian, or the old Kyle Kingsbury--they can be scumbags to women and still get away with it because they're good-looking. Being ugly is a kind of prisoner." He openly bullies people who are not good-looking, but this back fires when he picks on a witch. The witch, Kendra, puts a spell on Kyle, turning him into a beast. She gives him two years to fall in love with someone and be loved in return. The spell will then be broken with a kiss. Can Kyle change that much that fast, or will he remain a beast forever?
Beastly is one of the best modern retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I've read. It is a quick read with only 320 pages; I think I read this in two days. I like the fact that the main character is a male and that the book is written from the perspective of the Beast versus the Beauty. This was refreshing to read as it gives the classic tale depth.
I really enjoy Kyle's personal transformation in the book. At first, he is arrogant and rude, and he clearly doesn't care about anyone but himself. He is often seen publicly humiliating students because they aren't "beautiful". I found it easy to dislike Kyle because he reminded me of so many of the boys who went to my school.
I really liked the part of the book just after Kendra transforms Kyle into a Beast on the outside to match his beastly personality. Kyle is an angry and impatient Beast. He attacks Kendra once she has cast the spell and swears he will kill her if she doesn't change him back. When this doesn't work, Kyle attempts other ways of turning himself back (e.g., shaving his fur off). When Kyle realizes none of this will work, he sulks alone for months. This took me back to the Disney Beauty and the Beast retelling whose portrayal of an angry Beast. I don't think any other Beast, since Disney's Beast has really portrayed the anger of the Beast well, but I think Flinn does a decent job.
At this point, it is still difficult to like Kyle, but I didn't sympathize with Kyle once I saw how his dad treated him. His dad is just like Kyle and thinks looks are what is important. When his dad realizes that surgery won't fix Kyle, he buys an apartment and sends Kyle to live there with a maid and a blind tutor.
Things take a turn for the better once Kyle spends time with Linda. He wants her to like him and, at first, he tries to buy her by giving her material things just as he would have done before the transformation. This doesn't work and it is only when Linda sees the true Kyle as they are being tutored together or watching movies together that she begins to warm to him. By the end of the book, he comes to care about others, bargaining with Kendra to get Will (his tutor) his sight back and Magda (his maid) green cards so her children can come to America too. Kyle also puts himself in harm's way to protect Linda. It seems that the Beast can change that quickly that fast, but whether someone can love him is another matter.
I liked how Flinn included many traditional elements from Beauty and the Beast in her retelling, but the reasoning behind the events was better thought out. For example, I liked that a witch cast a spell on Kyle to turn him into a Beast, like the original, but there was a plausible reason for why she casts the spell. In the Disney version, the Prince is turned into a Beast because he refuses to give an old beggar woman shelter from the storm. The old beggar woman transforms into a beautiful witch and places a curse on the Prince so he can learn to see past looks. Considering the Prince was a child at the time, it seems harsh to turn him into a Beast as a punishment. In Beastly, however, Kyle should know better at his age, and he is so vile that he really does deserve to become beastly so he can understand what it feels like to be judged by his looks.
I thought that Flinn's decision to change the reason for Linda moving in with Kyle was a good one. In most retellings, the Beast essentially kidnaps Belle by demanding that Belle's father bring Belle to him in exchange for his life. In Beastly, Linda's father offers Linda in exchange for his life when he is caught breaking into Kyle's greenhouse. This is much better in my eyes because I always found that aspect of the story made me feel uncomfortable. I also think this is plausible because Linda's father is a criminal and he later sells her to another criminal when she returns to him (so not out of the ordinary for her father). Also, Kyle is somewhat protecting Linda from her father in a weird way. I did and did not like how Lindy reacted to being sent to live with Kyle though. While I thought that her negative reaction towards Kyle was realistic because she is essentially a prisoner, when you consider how bad her father treats her throughout the book, I think it would have been good for Flinn to show that Lindy sees she is better off away from her father.
I like the inclusion of the magic mirror and how this is an important part of Kyle's transformation (i.e., he watches Linda through the mirror and comes to care about someone other than himself). Although, I do find it a little stalkerish and disturbing that Kyle watches Linda so much in the mirror before she comes to live with him.
Another plot point from Beauty and the Beast that was included in Beastly, was Linda's departure from Kyle when she sees her father is sick in the magic mirror. The fact that Belle doesn't return because her father wouldn't give her the address and then because her father sold her to another criminal. This was interesting and I like that Linda couldn't return rather than didn't want to return. I like that Kyle risks everything to rescue Linda, despite the fact that he has to go to the subway to rescue her, which is crowded with people. While this was a modern interpretation, I do think it was a little over-the-top. The criminal tries to rape Linda at the subway, and he threatens Linda and Kyle with a weapon. I'm not sure how realistic this was.
The only problem with including so many of the original plot points is that there wasn't anything unexpected in the book. I guess that's part of the downfall of reading retellings, but I wish Flinn had added a twist somewhere, or something completely new. However, I do think that the inclusion of Kyle chatting to other people, who have been transfigured as well, was a stroke of genius. It's a really clever piece of writing as Flinn subtly brings in several other fairy tale characters, including the Frog from The Frog Prince, the Little Mermaid and the Bear in Snow White and the Red Rose. These scenes were wittily written and cleverly hinted at aspects from the respective fairy tales.
I really liked the blind tutor that is hired to teach Kyle. He was rather comedic and had me laughing out loud a few times, even when I was on a public train :S
Finally, I would like to comment on the romance in the book. I'm not a fan of cheesy, soppy romances. For the most part, the romance aspect was fine, although there were points where it got a little weird for me. People who like books with romance will really enjoy this though.
Final Verdict: I would recommend you read the book rather than watch the movie. If you're a fan of fairy tale retellings, I think you'll really like this book.
on 24 May 2012
Once upon a time there was a handsome but wicked prince who angered a witch and was transformed into a hideous beast until he find someone to love him as he was. Despairing, he was banished forever to a lonely castle, knowing full well that no-one could love a monster...
...Except that once upon is the modern day and the isolated castle is in the middle of New York City. Beastly is a modernised re-telling of the classic fairytale which adresses many of the overlooked details in the children's books version.
The book is split into six parts with a chat-room scene before each new section. These are humorous - a bunch of fairytale character's acting out their stories online - and break up the story nicely as there is a lot of slow-paced character developement and first person introspection. Kyle, the beast, goes through a complete and beleivably-portrayed change of character from a snobbish but compelling kerk the reader wants to slap to a romantic hero who deserves to get the girl. The first few chapters are difficult to read due to Kyle's cruelty but the story picks up once the curse begins and after the love intrest, Lindy, is introduced its hard to put it down.
Unusually for fairytale witches Kendra, the one featured in Beastly, is remarkably forgivable, only cursing Kyle in an attempt to improve him and trying to help him throughout the book. The true villians in this fairytale are the lover's fathers who are sadly lacking in paternal affection. Through them the story addresses serious emotional issues about abandonment and loving someone who won't love you back and there is a limit to the resolution the problem can be given. The parents can't be forced to love their children, the children can only learn to cope without them.
Another major theme is appearance and the superficial nature of society. The issue is also treated thoughtfully, not instantly condemning every appearance-based opinion but not exonerating it either. Reality is accepted and a world where no-one judges soneone without some consideration of their appearance, at least at first. However, at its heart the story is one of personal transformation and love, self-consciously soppy at parts in the most forgivable of ways.
In short: Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourite fairytales and this version of the story has reminded me why.
on 6 December 2009
Beastly is definitely a book to read sooner or later. The plot is very simple but the message it hides in its pages is huge. Basically beauty is not everything. Especially nowadays, when it seems that if you're not handsome you're nobody, it's important to send such a message to people. The story can also be viewed as a modern transposition of the tale "The Beauty and the Beast", addressed to teenagers and adults as well. Interesting, funny and romantic. Actually there isn't so much action but nevertheless it is so well written that you read it very quickly and in a moment it's finished. I recommend it to everyone because it's really enjoyable and worth to read indeed.
Useless so say that I can't wait to watch the film!
As for the product: excellent quality and very fast delivery (much sooner than the estimated date!).
on 30 July 2012
There is no use in denying that Alex Flinn, true to her fairytale love, has once again turned a classic tale into a modern magical story.
Personally I have a weakness and profound love for the classics so when I came across Beastly I really couldn't resist the modernisation of The Beauty and the Beast story.
As I read Beastly I couldn't help but compare it to the disney classic that so many of us know, and in doing so I came to realise and appreciate a fair few new aspects.
The disney version was designed for children. A tale to inspire the learning of the lesson that a book cannot be judged by it's cover and that love is neither materialistic or superficial, but in fact runs deep. All this and more can be picked up from the cartoon Belle and the Beast in about 90minutes.
Alex Flinn set up this fairytale in a modern setting giving all the lessons a new meaning and context. Being able to relate this story to our present reality was ever so simple and yet so crucial. Having learnt and understood the morals disney had imparted, I had never actually stopped and thought that these could be directly linked and applied to my very own present and non-magical life.
Alex Flinn's Beastly spoke of change, forgiveness, acceptance and of not only couple love but also family love and knowing thyself.
It was also quite nice to catch a glimpse of the future of a modern day beast and belle, of that happily ever after that every fairy tale tells us about without actually ever showing it to us. Sometimes it feels so fictional!
By the end of Beastly I came to really realise and appreciate that perhaps the true magical miracle was not the physical change Kyle underwent; but the one on the inside, that no eye could detect and yet all would feel.
Alex Flinn once again spun a lovely new twist on a tale as old as time. I look forward to more of her work and re-tellings of ancient classics in modern times.
If you liked this and enjoyed Alex Flinn's style then I would suggested trying A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn. If you want to stick to fairy tales style but not necessarily ones you know or are perhaps just seeking more sweet magic and adventure give Ella Enchanted by Gail C. Levine and The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth F. Long. If on the other hand you're willing to try a magical story based upon mythological tales then I would recommend immersing yourself in The Goddess Chronicles by Aimee Carter.
Calling all fairy tale lovers! Beastly is the classic fairy tale with a modern twist - and a good one at that! I was firstly drawn to the blurb. It is exceptionally frank, and seems to give a solid perspective from 'the beast'. I really don't know how to feel about the modern twist this book promises, but in the end it all tied up pretty well. Like, really well.
Beastly is a quick, easy and reflective read. The pace isn't too fast or too slow, and the characters are humourous and very individualistic. I loved the little chatroom snippets all throughout the books - it opens up to new characters who were just hilarious! My favourite would be Froggie - who coudn't type well with webbed feet - how cute was that? :)
As for the romantic aspect, I found that the pace helped established the romantic connection between the girl (let's not say who) and Kyle Kingsbury (later Adrian). Unlike most books, this focuses on emotional connection, not physical, and I adore that. Plus, the romantic gestures that Adrian does, including the little 'cautions' that he reminds himself to do to not scare the girl was just sweet. And let's not forget, Adrian himself is a pretty funny beast boy.
The best thing about the whole book is the fact that you really see Kyle's transformation. Every single little change for the better is well depicted and highlighted, and very well founded.
Beastly is a book of humour, fairy-tale romance, with a pinch of sadness and pain, and ultimately of selflessness. I love it!
on 3 April 2010
I have a thing about books turned into movies, or vice versa, so since the movie version of this book arrives this year I thought I'd give the book a read.
I read it in several hours, since it's not a big book. The message it sends is nice, and some of the scenes are quite lovely, however lots of areas of the story just seems 'convenient'. Having a rich, entitled main character gives way to lots of expensive treats and sometimes no limitations on the storyline.
Still, I was entertained for several hours one evening after a long day at work, so it was worth buying. Definitely hasn't thrown me in a grand way, and won't be making my top ten list of favourite books, but it wasn't absolutely dire like a lot of certain bestsellers out there these days ;)
on 12 July 2012
I read this while at friends in the early morning while everyone else was asleep for something to do and I immediately became hooked into the story line.
The book starts with a chat room conversation on a social network for people who have undergone or are considering undergoing a magical transformation. The main character, known in the chat room as BeastNYC, reveals that he was "beautiful" until he "pissed off a witch" and became transformed into a beast of hideous appearance.
The reader then leaves the chat room into the Kyle's (the protagonist) recollection of how became to be a beast.
After Kyle is nominated to be prom king by his peers at school, a new student called Kendra, is disgusted by the fact that attributes such as physical beauty determine who is nominated and who will win the crown at the school prom. She expresses that qualities like intelligence or bravery should influence who is crowned not "surface beauty".
Kyle, taken aback by the fact that anyone would challenge the perception that beauty is the most important thing, protests that if she were so clever, she would find a way to make herself physically attractive.
Kyle then, stung by her comment that "he is ugly on the inside where it matters most", hatches a plan to take Kendra to the prom as his date so that he may humiliate her by conducting PDA's with his actual date (someone who we are told is "the hottest girl in school").
Kendra accepts his invitation and agrees to meet him at the venue. He arrives and begins to socialise with his "friends" and girlfriend when he sees Kendra enter the hall. His girlfriend (aware of his plan) begins to kiss him and tell him she loves him. They then convince the entire occupancy of the room to start chanting "ugly" at Kendra.
Kendra, neither embarrassed nor surprised tells him she expected him to act like how he did and that she wished he "hadn't have made my decision so easy to make".
Kyle gets crowned king, goes to his girlfriends and then arrives home to find Kendra on his bed and sees her transform in to beautiful girl. She curses him.
The book itself is very well written and flows perfectly however, towards the end, became too similar to the original story of Beauty and the Beast. Since this book is meant to be a modern take of the classic story taking place in modern-day New York, I think there are too many similarities between the original and this interpretation to make it convincing that this situation could feasibly occur in New York, or indeed anywhere Urban.
The language used towards the end also appears to be old-fashioned and not the sort if language that a 16 year old Yankee (for the lack of a better word) would use (despite undergoing a complete magical and personality transofrmation).
You should definitely read this book to make up your own mind because it's taste is individual to its reader, however I'd suggest borrowing it from your local library and reading it from there before you decide whether you want to purchase this book or not.
A good attempt but kind of a let-down towards the end. It's not so much a modern twist as a paraphrase of the original story, set in the current world.
on 4 June 2013
This book is like a modern version of the lovely old tale 'Beauty and the Beast'. It is set across a two year time span but, however, the book is by no means slow. I was surprised as to how the author, Alex Flinn, is able to keep a good pace and tell the story in a magical way. I fell in love with the characters and the story which I am sure you will too. After you have read this book, I recommend you watch the movie adaption. Enjoy!