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.
“Magic. It was magic, and the magic is called love.”
Beastly is a heartwarming, wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a very delightful read, with the chat sessions, the modern-day setting, the wide range of emotions, lots of references to classics, and tons of roses. It is just perfect. I expected a fairy tale retold, and I’m not disappointed.
The story deals with important issues, such as inner values over appearance, abandoned children, parent-child relationships, friendship, empathy, patience, and love.
The story is told from Kyle’s (a.k.a. Adrian’s) point of view. His character is credibly drawn. Kyle’s alteration to Adrian mirrors the five stages of struggle when you experience a significant loss (The Five Stages of Grief theory by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross):
- denial: “Hallucination, hallucination. This type of thing didn’t happen to real people. I’d be fine. I had to wake up!”
- anger: “Now I looked around the room. Almost every object that could be broken was. I’d started with the mirror, for obvious reasons.”
- bargaining/negotiation: first his pathetic try with Sloan, then with doctors, finally he tries to find true love via internet. This stage could involve hope, and it appears in the novel indeed. Lindy represents hope. “I began to hope.”
- depression and acceptance: in the case of Adrian, the fourth and fifth stages merge into one another. He wants to stay at the farmhouse on the North, because he’d lost all his hope.
- happy end is the fifth stage here (that does not exist in the Kübler-Ross model), as it is a fairy-tale, fortunately.
Kyle has to reevaluate everything he thought to be right and worth following before: his values and beliefs in life, friendship, love, his relationship with his father, and his attitude toward people as a whole.
It is a slow-paced read, because the setting spans two years. Although I usually don’t, I enjoyed every moment of that in this story. There are no surprises in the plot, but the ‘hows’ are interesting.
Lindy appears in the middle of the book. She comes from terrible family circumstances. She is a strong and courageous character, she is smart and independent.
First she is scared and angry because her father traded her to save himself. But if I were Lindy, I would appreciate Adrian’s struggle to win her. Not the material things, but his efforts. It is so sweet as he does his best to make her comfortable in the castle. It is clear that he doesn’t intend to hurt her.
Of course, she softens toward Adrian with time.
Sadly, Lindy’s character is not fully elaborated, so readers don’t know her point of view. Lindy’s Diary by Alex Flinn is a recommended reading to understand her thoughts and feelings.
The book is filled with references to classics, represented in an attractive way. For example, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is a meaningful symbol in the book.
Some other examples:
- The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
“I finished the hunchback book (everyone died), so I read The Phantom of the Opera. In the book – unlike the dorky Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version – the Phantom wasn’t some misunderstood romantic loser. He was a murderer who terrorized the opera house for years before kidnapping a young singer and trying to force her to be the love he was denied.”
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
“I’m in prison,” I said.
“It’s true. 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 prison.”
- Shakespeare’s Sonnets, in particular the 54th
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
- The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
I am looking forward to seeing the movie based on Beastly. After watching it, I’m going to add my thoughts about it to this review.
It stars Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens. I like this modern appearance of the Beast, with scars and tattoos. Actually, he is not really ‘ugly’ but weirdly hot…
** Update: I loved the movie too, with all the changes compared to the book. And of course, the cast is amazing! 🙂
See my favorite quotes of Beastly on my Tumblr page,
Daily Quotes by Exina.