I know I’m out of touch because this book came out last year and had I known about it I absolutely would have picked it up right away. As it is I read about it on this blog, and promptly got it from the library. I really enjoy fairy tale retellings, both modern and old fashioned. This is a modern take on (obviously) Beauty and the Beast. [OK, I just looked on amazon and apparently this spring Flinn put out another retelling of a fairy tale. I must get it. I really think Alex Flinn is a super writer and I'm intrigued by this new type of story she is telling. If I think about it though, the main character in Beastly very much seems like a character she would write--she's quite good at angry teenage boy stuff.]
The vain boy/Beast in this version is the very wealthy, arrogant, vain son of a television newscaster. He has no family life to speak of and is used to getting his own way. He also looks down on anyone who is not conventionally attractive. A strange girl at school places a curse on him and he transforms into a beast. There are many elements familiar from the original story-the Beast’s love of roses (this version provides a fuller backstory of why he grows them), the isolated house (in Manhattan in this tale), the unwilling girl whom he grows to love, the library that opens his mind.
I found it all quite charming and especially enjoyed the way contemporary things were incorporated. For example, the main characters are teenagers, what about school? Using the internet to stay connected to the outside world. Which reminds me that the story opens with the Beast visiting a chat room for other fairy tale afflicted beings. This was a device which I liked very much, but it was not continued throughout and as you can see I forgot all about it when I thought of the book.
Definitely recommended to fans of fairy tale retellings.