Author: Alex Flinn
Narrator: Chris Patton
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 336 (audio length: 6 hours 42 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Free audiobook from AudioSync
From the cover:
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.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for fairy tales, including modern re-tellings. So when this audiobook was offered up as a free download this summer, I jumped on it. I had seen it in a couple places on blogs before, but never really thought seriously about reading it. I needed something light for my walks to and from work, and Beastly hit the spot.
In terms of the storyline, the novel is expectedly predictable. I mean, it’s pretty hard to be unpredictable when you’re a retelling of a famous story, so that’s kind of part of the territory. And Beastly doesn’t really deviate far from the basics of the fairy tale, so there are individual things that you might not see coming – say, for example, a scene where Kyle/Adrian and Lindy watch The Princess Bride during a thunderstorm – but as far as major plot twists are concerned, there aren’t any real surprises. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t find the novel enjoyable, though. I liked the way that Flinn told the story and used all the little details to really make the story her own.
Part of what made Beastly interesting for me was the narration of the audiobook production: Patton did a very good job of fleshing out Kyle’s character from the beginning. So good a job, in fact, that I was actually irritated for the first couple sections of the book because of Kyle’s superiority complex and bad attitude. It really fit, though, and he continued to do a good job with the other characters as well.
I think my only complaint with this book is the simplicity and predictability of the story. I found myself wishing that Flinn would deviate farther from the core components of the fairy tale and make it even more of “her” story, which would have improved it quite a bit and made it more intriguing. Even as it stood, though, Beastly was an enjoyable, light-hearted read.