Thursday, December 23, 2010

Julia Reviews "Beastly" by Alex Flinn


Title/Author: Beastly by Alex Flinn
Publisher/Year Published: 2007 by Harper Teen
How I got this book: The Library
Why I read this book: Saw a trailer for the movie coming out, thought I would read the book.
Rating: 4 stars

I stumbled into a trailer for a new movie coming out in March called "Beastly." Upon doing a bit more research I discovered that it was a book first, as it usually is, and decided to read it. Two things sold me on this book from the relative get go: one, it's a retelling of one of my favorite Disney movies* "The Beauty and the Beast", and two, it's told from the Beast's perspective.

The book does a great job of modernizing the Beast's tale. One of my favorite highlights is the chat room group for mythically affected teens. But besides the obvious of updating the scenery to the 21st century perspective, the actual Beast transformation is really believable. The magic of the tale balances well with the modernity. There is a great story arc that isn't too sudden or unbelievable. He starts off quite unlikable actually, but the promise of his transformation is enough to spur you past his childish special snowflake syndrome.

One side comment that really has nothing to do with my review but I've read quite a few YA novels this year that have novels told from 1st person point of view. Why is that, I wonder? As a general rule, I dislike first person narrative because it limits what I can know about other characters. I learn a good deal about the main character but the secondary characters suffer. I concede that sometimes first person works well, I thought it was great in The Hunger Games, but it's just not my favorite. I'm curious to what opinions you guys have on POV. First person: love it, hate it, can't live without it?

Anyway, back to Beastly. While it does a good job with the modernization while keeping all the essential elements, it was missing something that would push me into 5 star territory. It just didn't have that extra kick. Is it a great read? Yes. Would I recommend it to anyone who likes the tragic romance of Beatuy and the Beast? Hell yes. Is it a book I would read again? Probably not. But it was definitely worth the read. And I'll probably go see the movie when it comes out in March. If only for Neil Patrick Harris.

*I know it's a fairy tale, but I am more familiar with the Disney version. I am still plowing my way through The Brothers Grimm ... then comes Hans Christian Anderson ... then I'll do the more famous ones I have not hit (like this French tale!)

Trivia! The second most familiar Beauty and the Beast version for me? The TV show from the late 80s. Oh, Vincent...

11 comments :

  1. We talked about POV in my YA class, and we decided it put the reader more in the moment than a third-person narrative. Third-person is a bit more detached, which might make readers detached from the story. I like first-person narratives a lot, especially because the voice is so engaging if it's done right. (See Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.)

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  2. I love the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, did you ever play the computer game that's based on it? It was really cool.
    As for POV, like you said, first person *can* be great, especially when it creates extra tension like in the Hunger Games, I also really enjoyed it in Rebecca. I don't think either story would have worked otherwise.
    Beastly sounds like an enjoyable read, I'll have to add it to my TBR list.

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  3. I really loved Beastly! I'd just been wondering the other day when the movie is going to come out, so I'm glad you mentioned it! I'm pretty excited to see how it relates to the book.

    As far as POV goes, I'm with you on this one. I've never been a fan of first person narratives. It worked for Hunger Games, but I don't like it in pretty much every other book it's been done it. I totally forgot that Beastly was done in first person... I guess that shows you the impact it had on me. lol.

    Beauty and the Beast is my favorite too. :)

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  4. First person: love it, hate it, can't live without it?

    Personally I don't hate 1st person narratives, but I prefer third person instead. 1st person has a tendency of Mary/Gary Sue if it's done badly. Plus it's a bit hard to learn about secondary characters without being clouded by the main character prejudice. It's like hearing stories from other person, it can be wrong or right.

    So third person narratives is the best for me.

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  5. I love the whole re-taling of the story and making it modern. Great review. I can't wait to see the movie.

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  6. But a talented writer can make you see the development of secondary characters through their main character's eyes, despite the bias of the character, and I actually think this takes more skill than third-person narratives (if, as we've been saying, it's done right). It can be done so well. I quite enjoy first-person narratives, myself.

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  7. I agree, Tahleen. But for me it is such a small line from being done well and not being done well. I think reading as many YA novels this year as I have, and most of then being done in 1st person has pulled me a bit more into the acceptance of the POV. I don't know if it is yet to full embracing though...

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  8. I definitely need to read this one. I love the Beauty & the Beast story and I've read Robin McKinley's two retellings (BEAUTY in particular is awesome, if you haven't read it yet), so I definitely need to give this one a try!!

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  9. Beauty has been on my TBR list for SO LONG! I really should get to reading that... I only hear good things about it.

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  10. I agree I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to see it on the big screen!

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  11. This sounds like a fun read! I too would totally go see the movie just for NPH. Love him.

    I don't really have a blanket opinion of first-person narratives...for me, it really has to do with the nature of the book. But I totally understand why you generally don't like them--they are very limiting as far as character development outside of the main character. But they also allow the reader to question things they may not with a third-person narrative, like narrator reliability (hmm...I think I've been in too many English classes...).

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