Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Review: Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1)

Release Date: October 2, 2007
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 304 pages
Source: Purchased Book

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.



Protagonist: Kyle Kingsbury seems to have it all. He has tons of money, good looks, and everyone at his school either wanting to be him or wanting to be with him. So when he pulls a prank on the new goth chick at school the last thing he expects is to quite literally be turned into a beast. He's told he has to look beyond the superficial and find someone who can love him despite his looks and love him in return. He has two years to do it or remain a beast forever. Now I didn't really like Kyle all that much, but the great thing is that you're not supposed to. This isn't some run of the mill protagonist who means well but has flaws, this is someone who's so glaringly flawed that you really aren't supposed to be sympathetic to him for a while. My only problem here is that in the first half or so of the book we have a Kyle who is a huge douche but has a normal modern way of speaking, but in the second half, while he's much more sympathetic, it's almost as if the author wanted such a stark contrast between before and after that his speech in the second half lost almost all identity of being a modern day teenager.

Romance: So going into this I was expecting a lot of romance. After all Beauty and the Beast, the story this was based on, is all about loving someone regardless of their appearance, plus Kyle's curse can only be broken by requited true love. That being said this book is so much more about Kyle's character development than it is about the romance. Don't get me wrong there's still some great romance in this book, but it is by no means the point of this book. That being said, I do think the author did a great job on the romance. Even if the whole how they met post-transformation part is a bit creepy, there are legitimate excuses for it and after Lindy and Kyle, then known as Adrian, get to know each other, a real bond forms. The kind of bond where even if they did say the "L" word after only half a book it would feel earned and not something shoehorned in there to make a story complete.

World Building: So, as some of you might know Beauty and the Beast, is my favorite fairy tale and I love to see it retold time and time again. Ironically this was the first B&TB retelling I'd ever heard of and I'm just now getting around to reading it for the first time. What I love about modern day retellings it seeing how things would change if this story was told today, and while there were definite inclusions of that in this book, after a while the whole modern feel melted away and other than some things here and there it melted too much into itself and lost a part of itself along the way. This happens in the second half when the writing loses it's modern feel and becomes more formal and stilted. I did, however, like how much of the original tale was included in this retelling, though at times as I said before it could be a bit too on the nose.

Predictability: Going into this book I wasn't really expecting it to be unpredictable, and it really wasn't. This is very much a familiar story and for the most part I knew where things were going, even the bigger twists, either because of the movie which I had seen a few times before going into this book, or friends who don't understand what spoilers are who told m about this book years ago and I never forgot. I think the only times that things were really ever unpredictable were when they differed from the movie too much or the source material which didn't happen too often.

Ending: Speaking of unpredictable things, the ending of this book, or really the format in which it ended was rather unpredictable. This book is split up into six parts, and the sixth and final part all takes place after the final climax of the story and acts as an extended epilogue. As many of you may know I happen to really enjoy epilogues and this one was no different. After a rather unexpected final climax, things seem to calm down quite a bit as we're led through what happens after, who gets their comeuppance, and who lives happily ever after. I really enjoyed the end of this book, but most of all I'm looking forward to learning more about a certain character in this story.


So, I thought a lot about this and I think four stars is the perfect rating for this book. The first half of the story was fantastic, but during the second half the writing, the way the characters talked, changed how I enjoyed the book, things became too formal and didn't retain the modern feel the first half instilled in the story.


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