Beastly is a modern spin on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The YA genre is the perfect place to highlight fantasy, because teens certainly recognize the beastly nature of love and the beauty of a fairy tale romance. To me the mark of good fantasy fiction is that you focus more on the story than the unbelievable nature of the fantasy and Beastly delivers this.
Kyle is one of those kids who seems to have it all. He’s good-looking and popular, in spite of the fact that he’s not a very nice person. When we learn more about his home life, we can sort of see where he gets the me-first attitude: his mom took off years ago, and his dad barely pays attention to him at all. Kyle proves his inside ugliness when he sets an ugly girl up by asking her to a dance, and then embarrassing her by leaving her stranded outside. This ugly girl turns out to be a witch, and she decides to teach him a lesson by making his outside match his inside. He can break the curse if he finds true love within 2 years, in spite of his beastly appearance.
His superficial dad doesn’t know what to do when he finds out his son is literally a fur-covered, clawed beast. He ends up tucking him away in a Brooklyn apartment in the care of a housekeeper and a blind tutor.
One of the things that is interesting about the fantasy part is that author Alex Flinn creates a sort of sub-culture of teens who have been cursed, even though magic is not something that is generally accepted or believed in (which is why Alex has to hide away, in addition to his experience which he finds hideous).
I really enjoyed this story, and especially enjoyed it as an audiobook.
This book was first brought to my attention because of the movie, which I also watched after listening to the book. Check out my review of the Beastly movie.
CONTENT NOTES: Amanda is always looking for an audiobook, so when I started this I hoped that she might be able to listen. She told me she knew about the book and wondered if she could read it. I decided to let her listen, and the content is mostly middle-school appropriate. The characters are 15-year-olds at a privileged school, so there is some drinking. There is also some making out. There’s not a lot of specific details, but there are a few instances where they talk about specifics, such as girls looking hot and wanting to engage in sexual activity. It was borderline, but I think that the reason I allowed Amanda to listen was the context. All of this happened in Kyle’s “before” life. He was a jerk, his friends were jerks. I hope that Amanda doesn’t participate in drinking and sexual activity, but it is a reality in a teen’s life. As long as it’s not glorified, I’m okay with her seeing the reality of how some teens think.
AUDIO NOTES: Reader Chris Patton has an easy-to-listen to voice and did a great job of keeping the story moving and making subtle distinctions between the characters, which is important in a good audiobook. You can listen to a sample on the Brilliance Audio page.
Jennifer Donovan doesn’t really believe in or expect fairy tales in her everyday life, but she’s usually pretty happy with reality. She blogs at Snapshot.