September 26, 2011 12 Comments

STORY: Kyle Kingsbury is a vain fifteen-year-old who lives without parental affection; so long as he’s among the “beautiful people,” otherwise his workaholic father has less time for him. After his plan to prank the so-called witch, Kendra backfires, Kyle is left a beast – a curse Kendra puts on him so the world may see him on the outside as he is on the inside: ugly. When he’s banished to the “middle of nowhere,” Kyle must learn to cope with his new beastly appearance and has only his tutor for company. Two years. That is all the time he has to “fix” things. In order to break the curse, he must find someone to love him unconditionally, and to return that love… or he will remain as he is, forever.

Beastly, by Alex Flinn | Book Review

REVIEW: as any fairy-tale should, the movie adaptation of the same name quite enchanted me. I didn’t know exactly what I’d think of it, but it was something I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. After two of my blog friends (thanks, girls!) convinced me I should read the novel, I did puck up a copy, hoping it would be just as enjoyable as the one that came alive on my television screen.  

‘BEASTLY,’ BY ALEX FLINN. Reviewing and comparing the 2008 novel with the film adaptation featuring Vanessa Hudgens. Text © Rissi JC

One thing I immediately notice in this novel is how juvenile the story is. This is because the novel is actually YA, but if the movie is “young,” the book is ten times more so. Told in the first person, Kyle’s every thought (or nearly) is not only selfish, but also incredibly immature. It wears thin. Still, the novel is nothing if not an entertaining, easy read. The film is more transitional as being interesting to a wider audience, whereas this isn’t. Thankfully, the writers do clean up the movie a bit where this has more rampant profanity and sexual overtures. But to its credit, the book sometimes has more depth. We come to understand Kyle better.    

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‘BEASTLY,’ BY ALEX FLINN. Reviewing and comparing the book to the #adaptation with #VanessaHudgens. #BookReview #FWArchives #BookLovers Click To Tweet

Instead of making countless reference of book vs. script, I’ve decided to list which outcome I like better in the two – only beware, there are spoilers!

  • Script: in the novel, Kyle is described as more of the Disney film’s vision of a “beast.” The movie wins in regards to a beastly appearance. Make-up artists do a fabulous job of creating a hideous look without the audience finding it impossible that anything might befriend him as is.
  • Script: Lindy’s first appearance in the novel is so unassuming (it’s as if she’s an unimportant role) whereas the second time Kyle is with her in the film, there’s a definite “pull,” or connection between them; his armor cracks in her presence.
  • Book: author Alex Flinn definitely makes Kyle more approachable. He even accepts his tutor in a quicker period of time and their friendship is interesting.
  • Script: maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic, but I like that Kyle creates a garden for Lindy and not himself. It displays that he’s thinking of someone else. On the flip side, the book has him tirelessly working to create a space (a suite of rooms) that Lindy will feel at home in. So perhaps, to be fair that’s a toss-up.
  • Book: the similarities to the Disney film are charming. (Minus the whole hairy-beast-thing!) From a magical mirror and dramatic, selfless gesture to rose petals, Flinn pays beautiful homage to the iconic fairy-tale.
  • Book: the script doesn’t paint a terrible ending or leave the audience with an unpleasant taste, but the novel has a more charming end. There doesn’t have to be a “deepening of a kiss” or a sweeping score to end a story, instead sometimes it’s the simple things, the more innocent things that endear a story and the fact that Kyle’s last words embrace this makes me glad to have read Beastly.
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Anyone who enjoys the feature film will appreciate the book. I cannot say that I like one over the other better (although I lean towards the film). I know the movie will be something I’ll watch again, but am not sure if I’ll re-read the novel. It’s a fun read, but overall not impressive. 

CONCLUSION: at the risk of undoing everything I did just say, Beastly is a good read. I don’t recommend it to any of the pre-teen or young teen girls I know, but for older girls, it is a satisfying fairy-tale. It’s compelling enough to get me to read late into the night in order to finish it – and that is always a “good” sign. 

About the book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Shop the Book: Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Find the Review Elsewhere: Goodreads
Publication Date: 2008
Genre: Teen, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Adaptation
Rating: 4 out of 5  

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Ruth September 26, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    I thought this book was an interesting twist on the Beauty & the Beast story, but not without its problems (as you discuss). Good review!

  • Ella September 26, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    I agree with you one hundred percent–the book is more on the juvenile side. But hey, I had to do it for my column =)

    Loved reading your thoughts!

  • Rebekah Brielle September 26, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    I have never read the book. Sounds good though!
    Thank you for following my blog ;)
    As you can see, i now follow your awesome blog ;)

  • Rissi September 27, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    Ruth – it is an interesting twist. As I said in my post, I liked how Alex worked those things into the novel, more so than the script did.

    Ella – I am VERY happy you are using "Beastly" for the "Fur & Fangs" issue of Femnista! I cannot wait! It was fun putting the book post together since I tried something slightly different.

    Rebekah – "Beastly" is an entertaining, quick read, but I was a little disappointed in the profanity. I think the movie adaptation tones that down a bit. Enjoy the novel if you ever read it – and if so, you'll have to share your thoughts. =)

    And, thank YOU for following! I love my readers input on my posts, so please visit and comment as often as you like. Your blog looks like it will be a fun one to follow. =)

  • Ruth September 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    I think I prefer the film to the book overall – but I am such a sucker for fairy tale adaptations that I'm awfully glad I discovered Flinn's writing!

  • Rissi September 27, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Me, too! I am a BIG fan of fairy-tales, no matter how sappy they are. ;D

    Yeah, I am interested in picking up another book of Alex's because there were a couple "previews" at the end of "Beastly," and they had me hooked – plus she has something new coming out later this year or early 2012.

  • Ruth September 27, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Her upcoming book is Kendra's story! I am really curious about it, especially after Kendra's portrayal in the Beastly film!

  • Rissi September 27, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    OH. MY. GOSH! That does sound awesome! I had no idea it was about Kendra. She will be an interesting study. Thanks for that, Ruth! I'd just seen a pre-order on Amazon for a novel by Alex. So cool. =)

    And, yes, Mary-Kate did a great job in "Beastly" as Kendra.

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com October 12, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    While I enjoyed the film, I reallly loved the book. Great review.

  • Rissi October 13, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    To me, the film just had a better direction. The novel was really for the "tween" reading group, and that isn't me anymore. HOWEVER, I did enjoy the book – a lot, I just think the movie was more to my taste.

    Thanks for all your kind comments, Juju! =)

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