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Review for "Beastly" by Alex Flinn

Posted on 2011.07.20 at 01:14
Current Mood: dorkyfacepalming
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Genre: Urban Teen Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2007

     When it comes to writing reviews, everyone knows I tend to be a little bit snarky -- okay, more than a little bit, particularly if I didn't like the book, and entirely snarky if I really didn't like the book -- but I've already written my review about the movie and while I have things I can say about how the book differed from the film, it's still going to be the same unhappy lament regarding its shoddiness as a story. So brace yourself! I'm changing things up a little bit. I've decided to have the main character Kyle Kingsbury/ Adrian King (the Beast) join us to describe his book since tone (and parody) says so much more than mere serious words ever could.

     Let us then please welcome Kyle/Adrian to give my take on his story....


     ...So when I, like, start off, I'm totally hot: gorgeous and popular and, like, every girl wants to get into my pants. Not that I let just any girl get into my pants. I don't even let most of them talk to me. Unless a girl is perfect, and when I say perfect, I mean as hot as me, there's no way I'm getting near her with a twenty foot pole.  And of course, I'm a prep kid at this cookie-cutter everyone-wears-the-designer-clothing-that-all-looks-the-same rich-kid the-larger-the-price-tag-the-better school, and I've got this girlfriend named Sloane who's like the hottest girl in the school and one of the easiest, which means you know why I'm seeing her. And life is so perfect, just like me, because my dad's famous cause he's a newscaster and wealthy, and I'm about to be elected "school royalty" and all, which is sort of how the "transformed prince" thing comes into play, but it's really more of a forced plot device to continue the fairytale parallel than anything remotely logical, but like logic matters. Puh-lease.

     So anyway, I'm perfect, in case you didn't get that. Like, super amazingly perfect in every way. So I don't really get why I have these issues with my father, issues that I whine about incessantly, like, how he totally ignores me all the time and stuff, and like how he buys me things to make up for not being there, to make him look and feel like a good parent when he totally sucks. But that's okay since I get all the cool things that make me popular with my peers, like limousines and expensive crap that you give to the girls to get them to go to bed with you. And did I mention that I'm like... somewhere between fourteen and sixteen? Yeah, really weird that I'm so ridiculously young, but whatever.

     So life's going great at least until this witch-girl named Kendra shows up. I think she's all kinds of revolting because of her goth style and objection to my astounding beauty, and just to be hateful even though there's absolutely no justification for it, I totally humiliate her by inviting her to a dance, but denying it. For this, she gets it into her head that I need to be punished, not by taking away my fancy toys or forcing some sort of poverty upon me, but by making me a beast. Yeah, a beast, claws and fur and stuff... because that makes so much sense. But okay, no choice but to go with it, and by reading this, the reader totally has to suspend disbelief to go along for the ride too -- but we've all signed up for it (some more than others), and say "sure, whatever" and move on.

     But I don't. I so totally don't move on. I spend an eternity wallowing in my self-absorbed emo whinage. And, even when I go on to talk a little bit more about plot-furthering events, I'm still lamenting the loss of my knock-out drop-dead good-looks of a seeming lifetime ago. Between the whining and the tantrums, I find out that the only thing to break my curse is by finding "true love" within the next two years. Like hell! Who wants a beast?!? Or so I wangst about for hundreds of pages. I don't even bother remembering that I'm somewhere in my mid-teens and neither does the witch -- which makes no logical sense either, but again, whatever. Apparently, "true love" in your mid-teens is the expectation (and myth) now, the device to sell these teen novels, the unattainable goal, even though we teens, by my own appalling wangst and emotional immaturity, can't seem to know ourselves let alone know what "true love" is. Besides, finding "true love" at fifteen? Who the heck wrote my book anyway? 

     I should also say that I spend the book deriding corniness and super-sap. So what do I do? Yeah, you guessed it, doing nothing but be corny and super-sappy. And whiny. And fit-throwing. And did I mention that I was a hulking, clawed, profusely hairy half-man creature? A freak! Oh woe! Agony! Horror! So I wallow even more, reading the classics like Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein, trying to see myself in those misunderstood ugly heroes, even though they were infinitely cooler than I could ever be. Whine. And yeah, I spend a year whining and looking at girls on online dating sites and joining some weird chat-for-transformed-personages, a thing which adds little-to-nothing to my story at all except that it somehow ties in the technology of our generation to the story and tries to make it "accessible." Yeah, sure, great and all, but it doesn't help.

     Then I find a girl, but this is after a bunch of stuff like being given a magic mirror by Kendra, and being unbelievably assaulted by a girl at a Halloween dance, and getting a blind tutor -- who's supposed to act like another version of a "transformed" dude since he once could see and now cannot, so clever, not -- and being compelled to ask for the tutor's vision back and my housekeeper to see her family again -- if I manage to break the curse and all. So back to the girl -- named Linda, or Lindy, someone I knew, but not really, whose father is a doped-up selfish bastard without the slightest redeeming quality, which I discover looking into the magic mirror. So when he comes intruding upon my lovely rose garden/ greenhouse thingamabob that I built -- since, in true emo-style, I decide that the only things I could possibly love and not be rejected by were roses --  I threaten him and he offers her. SCORE.

     I sort of take a little more time to whine here and lament how alike our fathers are, Lindy's and mine. You know, cuz hers beats her and treats her like crap and makes her endure his drug-habit, and mine buys me anything I want to make up for him totally abandoning me once I lose my beauty -- yeah, so exactly the same, right? You bet. But then, when everything's going so well with Lindy -- cuz she totally falls for my emo-brooding -- I let her go off to her father cuz he's ill and stuff and she like... abandons me too. It totally sucks.

     !Spoiler below, just for those of you who might actually be sick and twisted enough to want to read this book!

     I just sort of give up at this point. It's over. I have a month left, but it's over. The world is ending. I'm sixteen, but the world is finished. I'm a hideous hairy beast that no one could ever love! Boo hoo! And then she loves me, and then I'm not a beast anymore, which you might have guessed. It happens in this insane and totally unbelievable scene, which is basically down to the last hour of the curse, in which I am attacked in the subway system for being a monster -- which is asinine since in NYC, you see far more weirder things -- and thwarted in my attempt to get to Lindy, all the while thinking about references to Jane Eyre -- since allusions to actual good books has to lend some legitimacy to this travesty of a novel or something, right? And Lindy is being threatened by a dude with a gun and I'm shot and then healed. It's all very.... not well written. 

     But that's not enough, you know? Suddenly, I don't really have anything more to be emo about. So I go on for chapters more about the aftermath, and whine about dad and whine about going back to school, and whine about not getting to say goodbye to the housekeeper, which turns out to be Kendra of all stupid "twists," and then I get this super-weird and super-corny scene with Lindy getting ready for the dance and introducing her to my chatroom group-for-transformed-persons, and then Lindy starts regretting that I'm still not all hairy and beast-like. But I quickly talk her out of that and we sort of just leave off with me leaving the chatroom.

     Did I mention that I whine and brood an awful lot? 

     Returning the keyboard back to the reviewer, in closing, I'll say that I actually think that the book was just as bad, if not worse, than the movie (and I thought the movie was unequivocally painful), yet, if you notice, the book received a higher rating (two masks) than the movie (one and a half masks). Why? Because the book was the horrid source material, and while terrible and prone to making me snort in disbelief rather than capturing my imagination, it required more imagination than the movie did. The movie merely devoured and regurgitated and had an opportunity to improve, which it failed to do. So book gets an extra half-mask for that. Yes, I'm feeling magnanimous, I suppose. Either way, still a pretty horrid book, one that I would recommend most people stay away from unless incessant whining is your thing.

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