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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Book Review:Beastly

Premise:A rich brat is turned into a monstrous creature that can turn back to his old self only if he and a girl fall in love.

Author:Alex Flinn

Genres:Fantasy/supernatural, romance

Notes:Cover taken from Alex Flinn's website.

Pros:Good characters.

Cons:It's kind of cheesy. Some creepy, pseudo-romantic moments.

Kyle Kingsley is not your typical protagonist. You're usually seeing it from the underdog's point of view, the guy who could use a hug and some self-confidence. Not the "popular", shallow, arrogant, spoiled rich kid who thinks he's better than you. To him (and his father), looks are everything.

So imagine their collective distress when a witch decides to teach Kyle a lesson by turning him into a beast. Not like a "can still pass off as normal" beast, more like "Monster! Kill it!" It's not a pleasant situation.

Part 1 of the book is Kyle the Jerk. He's full of himself, mean, and like most teenagers, obsessed with sex. And even before the transformation, it's pretty clear Kyle and his father, Robert, don't love each other. Kyle's well-being comes after Robert's image no matter what, so don't expect a heartwarming reconciliation there.

Part 2 is Kyle becoming Adrian the Beast (he changes his name, but I'm going to continue referring to him as Kyle to avoid confusion). This part is my personal favorite because we get to see a former jerk start to change, but it's not an easy change at all. He becomes pretty dark and angry, and hope appears lost. Pretty much everyone he knows abandons him - his father, his girlfriend, his buddies, everyone but the maid. This also introduces us to Will, the blind tutor with good advice and a somewhat snarky attitude.

Part 3 is the love story. The romance is the big focus in the second half of the book. It's cheesy, and Kyle was pretty obsessed with Lindy, which got kind of creepy. For the most part, this is pretty much sweet fairy tale stuff. If you love that sort of thing, you will probably smile and enjoy it. If not, you're more likely to think it's sappy.

Overall, if you like fairy tales, check this out.

Sex:There's a lot of talk about romance and sex. Kyle believes several girls have crushes on him. He and his girlfriend Sloane kiss and grope each other, sometimes publicly. His relationship with Lindy is more chaste, if obsessive. Sometimes, he watches her without her knowledge and thinks about what it would be like to touch and kiss her. He decides against kissing her in her sleep because it would be wrong to take advantage and she'd never forgive him if she woke up. When he hides her dress under his mattress (to smell the perfume), she wonders if he was wearing it.
Kyle tries online dating, only to find his prospects are not the ages they claim to be. A few are less than thirteen; others are much older. And of course, they aren't all female. Kyle also runs into a few sexually explicit sites (which aren't detailed), and decides to avoid anything with the word "kinky" in it. He sits outside a party, seeing girls removing their underwear. He watches couples make out, and sometimes wonders if he could be capable of killing the guy and kidnapping the girl so he could force her to break the spell. He admits to using the magic mirror to spy on a girls' locker room. He also spies on his friends, sometimes catching them naked. He finds out his ex and his former best friend are together, and that she has another boyfriend. Kyle wonders if she was cheating on him as well.
When the maid gets the wrong flower, Kyle gets upset because he thinks his girlfriend won't be ahem, servicing him tonight. He once asked for a girl's number, then he and his friends made obscene calls to her house. When a guy mentions he and wife enjoy watching Robert Kingsbury on TV and that the wife especially has a crush on him, Kyle wonders if the guy is going to suggest a threesome.
Kendra mentions there are countries where rapists are castrated. A man offers his daughter to an attacker. The daughter wonders if her "host" intends to use her as a sex slave; she's reassured this is not the case. Kyle says he has something to show her (not like that). There's discussion of Oscar Wilde's homosexuality and his affair with a lord's son. Kyle laments handsome guys can treat women like crap and get away with it just because they're good-looking.

Violence:When Kyle turns into a beast, he attacks Kendra and threatens to kill her. She just magically lifts him off and fixes her wounds and clothes. He later trashes his room in anger and threatens a burglar, digging his claws in and dangling the guy out a window. He doesn't want to kill the intruder because that would mean an investigation. When a girl tries to remove his "mask," he ends up breaking her arm. And he digs his teeth and claws into someone threatening a girl (the guy survives). When Kendra appears to him pre-transformation, he worries she has a weapon.
A man takes a girl hostage, threatening to shoot her. When Kyle's dad asks him about his day, Kyle thinks of sarcastically saying he and a friend are making bombs and looking for submachine guns. Mention is made of thieves hands being cut off and rapists being castrated. Kyle considers killing himself with a glass shard, but his brand new healing factor prevents this. He also cuts up his arm, which promptly heals. A girl uses karate on him, which hurts. Linda's father slaps her. A man is hit in the head with a mirror.

Language:"G*d", "b**ch", "crap", "p*ss", "skank", "d**n", "slut", "h*ll", "bas**rd", "screw off", "a**hole", and "putz" are all said. The acronym "B.S." is used, but the word it stands for is not. Kyle and others make mean comments about people being ugly, fat, or losers.

Drugs/Alcohol:Kyle and his girlfriend share a bottle of booze. Lindsey's dad sells and uses drugs, which she doesn't like. Drugs are mentioned several more times, some of them used by teens. When Kendra changes him, he frantically tries to convince himself it's just a drunken hallucination or that she slipped him acid. A guy mentions being too trashed to remember a party.

Spiritual:A major player in the story is a witch named Kendra. Her powers include spell-casting and time travel. She casts a spell on Kyle that turns him into a monster (on the outside that is). She gives him a magic mirror he can use to watch anyone. Even before discovering her true nature, Kyle thinks she looks like a witch. He reassures himself by saying witches aren't real. Will also says that witches don't exist, but he later seems to change his mind.
A few of the doctors Kyle is taken to are witch doctors or something similar. One called him devil's spawn, which he thinks is as insulting to his father as it is to him. Kyle mentions seeing his father on a Jumbotron, making him look like a god. He angrily asks don't people believe in voodoo and Satan's spawn where Magda comes from, which she attempts to correct before he interrupts to say he doesn't care. Midnight is called the witching hour. Kendra says she prefers the 21st century because there aren't so many witch burnings.

So what were your thoughts? Would you call it magical or beastly?

© 2015 by M.R.R.

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