Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Animal Instincts


Written by: Alex Flinn

Released: September 20, 2007 by Harper Collins Publishers

Summary: 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 the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

What can I say about this book? Well, though I enjoyed reading it – it was a nice, light (with a moral) read that was entertaining – and I thoroughly was impressed by the modernization of Beauty and the Beast, I’m not sure what I think about it. Like I said, I enjoyed reading it sucker for fairy tales that I am, but it wasn’t spectacular.

Maybe I’m being too harsh though. My unease about the book could be due to the fact that there is a movie being released this summer based upon this book and starring Vanessa Hudgens; an “actress” whom I think is completely talentless. Perhaps knowing that she would be playing Lindy ruined the character and thus her part within the book.

So let’s set her aside.

I thought that the character of Kyle/Adrian encompassed the role of the beast beautifully. He was self-loathing and tortured though was able to throw himself into his reading and gardening and express himself, while growing with his flowers into a better person. His transformation into a real human being was what was really brilliantly written about this book. As a reader you really did not like him in the beginning when he was a jerk but then after he is turned into the beast, and has to start relying on things other than his quintessential good looks, you start to see depth in his character.

The other characters are well written as well and fit into their roles perfectly: the blind tutor (both physically and metaphorically), the caring housekeeper, the absent father, the narcissistic girlfriend, the groupie best friend. Then there’s Lindy and her user father. I admit that the drug addict father was a nice twist on the original father from the fairy tale, but Lindy was annoying and not just because of who’s going to play her in the movie. I mean, I would feel hurt too if my father bartered me in return for not getting sent to prison to a complete stranger. However, I don’t think that I would take it out on the person that he bartered with when I saw how amazing my accommodations were and how every detail was thought about before I had arrived. Maybe I would sulk about the entire situation but I would still be courteous to those who were putting me up. Anyways, she just rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entire book.

The plot was an amazing modernization interpretation of the original. The setting of urban New York played well into the whole idea behind the story since it allowed Kyle/Adrian to go out in the world through the disguise of a homeless person. It also showed how a person can feel a prisoner in any situation, in any setting, even when they have the freedom to roam the streets. The urban setting against the wildness of the roses in the greenhouse also shows another layer to the characters, setting, and atmosphere.

I suppose that in the end it wasn’t that bad. It was a nice, light read that I enjoyed despite the Lindy character. If someone was wanting to read a good fairy tale I would suggest this among other retellings. In the end, I’m giving this a 6/10.

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