Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fantastic Fairy Tales

Author: Alex Flinn
Published: October 2007l
Publisher: Harper Teen
# Pages: 304
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Good reads

I am a beast. 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 a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fairytale fan and have been since I was old enough to go to the library on my own. I used to take out the coloured fairy books by Andrew Lang and I read them all from cover to cover. One of my very favourite tales was Beauty and the Beast. I've always loved the idea that a strong woman would be able to fall in love with a beast and save him.

The interesting thing that becomes apparent in all the many versions of the story is that being a beast is not just a physical thing, it can be temperament as well. In Beastly, a modern retelling of the fairy tale, Kyle Kingsbury is handsome, wealthy, priviledged and an absolute monster in the careless way he treats other people. When he upsets the school witch, she transforms him into a beast and gives him 2 years to break the curse. The setting for this version is contemporary New York and is easily related to by readers, as are the references to computers and chat rooms. This beast is locked away in an apartment and still has many of the luxuries of life, but his life is changed in every way and he has to overcome many obstacles before he breaks the curse.

I must confess to being somewhat disappointed with the news that the release date of the movie version of this book has been pushed back from this Fall to next Spring. Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer are the stars. Many of you will have seen the trailers for the upcoming movie, so be prepared for some major differences between it and the book - particularly in the physical aspect of the beast, but the book is well worth reading. It has become one of my favourite versions of the story. Try it, before you see the movie, and tell me what you think.

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