Beastly by Alex Flinn

BeastlyA 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.

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I didn't think I was going to like this book. Although I have read and loved many fairy tale retellings, I cannot think of one retelling set in the modern day that I have liked.

I do love the original story of Beauty and the Beast. Bookish girl goes to live in an enchanted castle with a scary-looking-but-well-intentioned-beast and gets access to his HUGE library...what's not to love?

This version takes place in modern day New York City, and the first few chapters were, well, let's say...strange. I couldn't really believe that a person could be so shallow and vain as Kyle appeared to be. And then a green haired witch shows up in school and NONE of the other students bat an eye? 

After a few minors bumps though, I started to understand Kyle...his famous but self-absorbed father and absent mother lend credence to Kyle's personality...when we see Kyle and his father interacting, it is clear on whom Kyle has modeled his behavior up until now.

After the spell has been cast is when things really get interesting. Kyle rages for awhile, then falls into a depression of sorts, then...he starts to wake up, because a of girl...a girl who, he hopes, might be able to break the spell. 

Their awkward but sweet courtship is what makes this book memorable, just as it makes the original Beauty and the Beast memorable. Kyle's transformation from selfish boy to selfless beast is inevitable, but not predictable.

Alex Flinn has also written A Kiss in Time, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and Cloaked, a retelling of the Frog and the Princess. 

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