Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite a wold 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’m always interested in a good fairy tale re-telling, and Beastly is one I’ve had on my to-read list for ages now – it was just never available in any bookstore in my city. With the upcoming release of the movie, is it any surprise that I walked into one of my local bookstores and found it sitting on the shelf? Nope! I’m just glad they kept the original cover instead of re-issuing the book with a movie cover (more on that later). I’d yet to read a Beauty and the Beast re-tell, and I’m so glad I started with Beastly, especially since it’s told from the Beast’s point of view.
Kyle Kingsbury has it all – he’s gorgeous, wealthy and high on the ladder of social success at his elite New York school. Life is great, until he insults the wrong person and finds himself on the receiving end of a witch’s curse. Turned into a Beast, he has two years to get someone to fall in love with him and kiss him, or else he’ll stay that way forever. Abandoned by his famous dad, Kyle lives with a maid and tutor, locked away in a house, an enchanted mirror his only view into the world outside his windows. And then into his life comes Lindy, the girl who could be the answer to his problems, as long as Kyle can get her to look past his looks and see who he is inside.
Beastly was wonderfully true to the story of Beauty and the Beast, but this time we get to see how things are for the Beast. Kyle is a truly shallow person – his character at the beginning is one I would have steered clear of in high school. The curse becomes his blessing in disguise – it brings him to Lindy while making him a better person. Kyle is forced to see that not everything is about the way you look (unlike what his father would have him believe), and that it’s who you are inside that counts. We get to see just enough of the characters (Kyle, Lindy, maid Magda and tutor Will) to feel connected to them, to feel that we know them. The plot skips along at a nice pace, touching on the major changes in Kyle’s life along the way.
Slotted in between story sections (the book is broken up into parts) are chatroom messages in a chat led by a Mr. Anderson, for transformed people. We get to see the Little Mermaid, a frog who needs to be kissed by a princess, a man transformed into a bear and sisters Snow White and Rose Red. The interludes are quite cute and really bring back the whole fairy tale feel to modern day New York City. The twist at the end involving the witch was also unexpected but great. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. Hey, it just means I got a surprise at the end!
This was such a good book, full of magic, true love and the idea that it really doesn’t matter what you look like or what you wear. What matters is who you are on the inside, and that you are a good person. Kyle was poisoning those around him with his derision and mockery, and thus poisoning himself. When he stopped caring about the packaging, about the superficial, his entire personality lightened considerably. The message is one I think anyone and everyone should take in. Do it by reading this book and you get a great story out of it, too!
Just as a little extra, here’s the trailor for the movie starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Neil Patrick Harris to be released July 30, 2010.