Beastly by Alex Flinn YA Novel Review

Title: Beastly

Author: Alex Flinn

Publisher: HarperTeen

ISBN:  9780060874186

Kyle Kingsbury may be drop dead gorgeous and rich to boot, but he has the personality of a monster.  Spoiled, willful, and only interested in himself, he has a rude awaking ahead of him.  When he pisses off a witch, his life is turned upside down.  Cursed to look like a beast, he will spend the rest of his life as an outcast unless he can find a girl to love him despite his monstrous appearance.  Will anyone be able to look beyond his hideous exterior and accept Kyle for himself?

Karma certainly came back to bite the odious Kyle on the butt.  At the beginning of the book, he is a really awful person, and when the witch curses him, it’s hard to feel bad for him.  Kyle doesn’t like anyone, not even himself.  He’s a poser, and he spends his time feeling smug and superior to everyone else.  What he really wants, though, is for his father to actually acknowledge him and give him even a scrap of attention.  When he doesn’t, Kyle lashes out at everyone, becoming very, very ugly on the inside, even though he is beautiful on the outside.

When he pulls a mean prank on the wrong person, he learns the hard way that it’s better to treat everyone with respect and to look beyond appearances.  This is a difficult lesson to learn, but when people shun him the way he has turned his back on others, he slowly begins to deconstruct his life and take a good, long look at the person he has become.  Kyle was mean and spiteful, and when he begins to accept that he needs to change, he becomes a gentler, much more likeable character.

Alex Flinn puts a modern spin on the tale of Beauty and the Beast, and I don’t want to ruin the reading experience by dissecting the plot too much.  Instead, I’ll say that it was heartwarming to watch as Kyle begins to grow beyond his petty old self and learn to love other people.  Once he becomes capable of caring for others, they become capable of caring for him.  He is forced to work through his inner ugliness in order to emerge a better person, and his journey is full of compelling drama and self introspection.  If I have one quibble with the book, I felt that it started to drag a bit near the end.  Still, we are treated to a satisfying conclusion, as Kyle learns that what is on the inside of a person is far more important than outward appearances.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher