Beastly by Alex Flinn – Review

Book Jacket:

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 a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly…beastly.

You can read an excerpt here.


Beastly is a light and sweet modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast – I think of it kind of like a frosted sugar cookie: perfect if you’re in the mood, a bit too sugary if you’re not.

Though the modern touches are lovely – a chat room support group for the unfortunately transformed, the cruel snobbery of a private high school – this is a pretty solidly by the numbers Beauty and the Beast story. Every element you’d expect shows up at the appropriate time – the witch, the rose, the magic mirror, the father who trades off his daughter, the Beast letting her go, and the final life saving moment. It’s a good story – it always has been – but you’re definitely not going to be surprised.

Still, it’s nice to see this classic tale be told from the Beast’s point of view for a change, and the opening chapters of this story do a lovely job of making our soon-to-be-Beast both horrible and sympathetic, as we witness the loveless family situation that made him the jerk that he is. After the transformation, the subsequent brooding and self examination isn’t all that deep or complex – yes, he reads Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera – but it still will easily hold your attention, and the Beast’s hopeless adjustment to ugly-dom manages to be emotive without sliding into emo territory. The Beast – Adrian, nee Kyle – is just effortlessly likable, and he has a fun sarcasm he slings around a little too readily for his own good. Honestly there is just something lovely about watching a spoiled and selfish teen discover that there are more important things in life than being pretty and popular.

Lindy (the Beauty of this story) is unfortunately a little lighter on personality – she’s perfectly nice and unoffensive, but she’s also a fairly standard smart girl who reads a lot. The love connection is wonderful on the Beast’s side, with how amazed he is every time she treats him at all well, but it falls a little flat on Lindy’s side. Flinn makes a point of saying that Lindy can’t be bought with nice things, but she spends a fair amount of time being impressed by the greenhouse, the nice big safe house and the library of books – the money does come into play, on some level. Plus, Lindy’s attraction seems to be build more on the fact that Adrian is the first boy to take an interest in her than on a genuine spark between two personalities. And while Adrian spends a heck of a lot of time changing to be good enough for her, it isn’t reciprocated – it would have been nice to see their budding relationship help Lindy grow or develop in some way, maybe help her gain confidence or assertiveness, but instead she remains pretty bland. I don’t dislike her –  I thought she was fine, but just fine. I wish there had been a bit more to her.

Though one of my favorite parts of this story was the detail given to Adrian and Lindy’s family histories  – in the afterword, Flinn talks about how she wanted to make her Beauty and the Beast be about two lost teenagers who found each other, and it really worked. Watching two people who are so alone find someone to love is really what makes this book hum.

So the classic tale carries on as it always has, and much cuteness and reading of classic literature ensues. Hey, if a guy reads Jane Eyre and and Little Women for a girl, it’s got to be love, right? And though the old fashioned phraseology Adrian starts slinging around is frankly a little cheesy, it’s still very easy to root for him on his journey to become someone who deserves to be happy.

So, yes, this story is firmly on the nose and very standard Beauty and the Beast fare (Robin McKinley, this is not), but it’s also genuinely sweet and easy on the eyes. So if you’re a Twilight or Shiver fan hankering for a new romantic read, this is definitely one for you.

Byrt Grade: B+/A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Persnickety Snark says:

Flinn has a direct writing style that I much enjoyed. The inside of the transformation chatroom were particularly amusing. She hasn’t allowed the story to be bogged down with fluff, rather she’s focused on the emotional turmoil of both Kyle and Linda. It was a great read that wasn’t overly challenging but contained enough tweaks to the original formula to make it entertaining.

Paperback Dolls says:

Beastly was a good story and I appreciate and enjoyed that it was told from “The Beast’s” male perspective, but I just wasn’t blown away by this book. It was too familiar for me personally. I have several friends who highly recommend and LOVE this book, so it definitely has a big following, it’s just not for me. It is well written, with interesting characters (particularly Kendra-the Witch) but I would have preferred the story more if it had ventured a bit more off of the already laid path.

Steph Su Reads says:

…I really enjoyed Beastly, with its approachable writing style and likable “Beast” protagonist. It’s definitely refreshing to look at this old fairy tale from the Beast’s point of view. While I can think of a number of better “Beauty and the Beast” retellings that are out there, Beastly’s simple writing and straightforward characters will appeal to middle schoolers and early high schoolers who enjoy fairy tale retellings with a dash of romance and a strong male protagonist.