One of my favorite fairytales as a child was Beauty and the Beast
. I liked the Disney cartoon, loved the wonderful creepiness of Jean Cocteau’s La belle et la bête
, yet my absolute favorite version of the tale was Marianna Meyer’s Beauty and the Beast with Mercer Mayer’s great illustrations. When I picked up Beastly
, I was looking forward to reading a modern retelling of the story. However, as I finished it, I was ultimately disappointed.
The book starts off well enough. Kyle Kingsbury’s the Adonis of Tuttle Prep—tall, blond, rakishly handsome, and best of all rich—the ultimate chick magnet. His one flaw: he’s an utter creep, with no conscience or remorse. He decides to play a trick on an ugly fat girl in class, but in the end the joke’s on him. The girl’s a witch, and as punishment curses him for his own good.
There are some good moments in the book. Kyle's actually a good narrator, having a typical teenage boy voice, which at times can be rather funny. I also liked Kyle’s growing fondness for his roses. In a way, he reminded me of a young Anthony Zacchara, the crazy NYC mobster from General Hospital
, who used to coo over his rose garden. I also thought Froggie from the web chats was precious, “stil no hop here. I meen ther is hop but not HOPE” So cute!
But there were problems. I think this story would have worked better if the characters were a little older. At the start, Kyle’s only a freshman 14/15 years old. In my head, I kept picturing someone older, at least a junior or senior. Also, I found some of the scenes a bit creepy. For instance, when Kyle sneaks back up into the attic and takes the dress Lindy had tried on back to his room to sleep with. I have read books and seen films where a suitor discreetly takes a handkerchief/glove that his lady love has dropped and sniffs it, taking in its perfume, but this… I found it bordering on the obsessive.
Ultimately the end killed this book for me. It was too cutesy, too sugary sweet, like when little girls dot their i’s with little hearts. I lost all my respect for Lindy, fawning all over Kyle; she lost her backbone. Also, I feel that the author could have left out the epilogue. It didn’t really add anything, and also it takes away from the belief that Kyle’s a changed man. With those final paragraphs, I found a little sliver of the old Kyle Kingsbury.
Regardless, I can see young teens loving this book, especially since it’s been made into a film. But for me, Beastly
was only OK.