Beastly Movie Tie-in Edition

Beastly - Alex Flinn Alex Flinn's "Beastly" surprised me as an adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" in that I didn't expect it to be as potent with its respective themes, translation into modern-day high school cliques and issues, and adopting to a teen boy's distinctive voice. While I do have some qualms with respect to certain parts of the story (more on that in this extended review), I did enjoy the story for what it brought across, not just in the collective story, but also the audiobook - the latter of which probably increased my overall appreciation of the story ten-fold."Beastly" is written from the perspective of the crude Kyle Kingsbury, a handsome, popular, and rather shallow sophomore who's used to getting everything he wants, at least as far as material and social matters are concerned. He's relentless when it comes to things that put him off, ugliness included, and not afraid to publicly humiliate those who are under his tier of the social ladder. His father is a high-profile newsanchor, and has much the same demeanor. But while one might say Kyle is an unlikable brute, a closer lens into his life reveals that his life isn't so practically perfect, and all of this becomes unraveled as he takes one public humiliation too far. After publicly shunning a fat, ugly girl (Kendra) he tricks into going to a social dance with him, the girl reveals herself to be a witch and curses him into becoming a hairy beast - complete with claws and fangs. The transformation's effects are immediate, not only serving to scare those he tries to associate with, but also landing him in an isolated environment where Kyle wonders if anyone will love him or if he's doomed to remain a beast forever.Enter Lindy - perhaps his polar opposite in persona. Lindy is a young woman who originally went to Kyle's school, but with an addict for a father. By measure of events, Lindy ends up being confined to Kyle's domicle (and Kyle changes his name to Adrian to hide his identity), and the two develop a warm relationship as time comes on. I was surprised how taken I was with the character interactions and Kyle's gradual transformation from the brute he starts to the kind person he eventually becomes. The New York backdrop serves to accent the story, both in the city as well as the outskirt environments. I never outright disliked Kyle as a character, rather I think Flinn did very well in accenting his public demeanor with his private pains (father ignoring him, his distance from his so-called friends, etc.)I also loved the inventiveness of the author creating a therapeutic chat between transformed/cursed teens of various situations (The Frog Prince put a smile on my face more than a few times). But unfortunately, there are moments in this book that made me cringe. I think in certain places, Kyle's affections are a little too obsessive in points for his character age (like the fact he takes Lindy's dress into his room to retain her scent), though the author balances it with Kyle knowing what's right/wrong. Flinn handles this better than some YA authors, but I'll admit it did throw me out of the story a few times. The ending ties things together a little too rapid to me as well. I don't say neatly/perfectly, because I understand it's a fairy tale, but I do expect some rationale as to how it happened. For example, a blind man regains his sight without really an expansion as to how that happened, though other points in the story are expanded upon fairly well. Where some bows were tied too quickly, others weren't tied at all (example: there's not really a mention as to what happens to the Little Mermaid parallel character in the story. If you know the original story, it's somewhat implied. I got it, so it didn't bother me, though I wonder how many might pick up on this when reading the story.) All in all, I did enjoy "Beastly" for what it was worth, and would recommend it for those who would like a decent fairy tale retelling without too many expectations. Note that this is quite a different book than the movie version (which I haven't seen, but I plan to).Overall score: 3.5/5