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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The traditional message of "Beauty and the Beast" is the central theme of this retelling: beauty is skin deep. Kyle and his friends are rich, shallow, and obsessed with beauty. Even his father abandons him after he is cursed and loses his physical beauty, although he was already an absent father. Kyle finds true love after he completely rejects his former superficial ways; of course his life depends on it.
Positive Role Models
The witch, of all people, reveals her altruism in the end: She had cursed Kyle out of love for him. Kyle becomes compassionate in the end; he cares for his friends and supports them. His father remains distant and shallow. Linda is intelligent, strong, and is the caretaker for her junkie father despite his abuse. She falls in love with the beast, but his money and wish fulfillment probably don't hurt.
Violence & Scariness
The beast accidentally breaks a girl's arm; he threatens to throw a thief off of a roof; a girl is threatened by her father; an assailant is shot; the beast is shot. A main character is almost the victim of an apparent rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kyle makes out with his girlfriend; it is suggested that they have had sex. In one scene her hand "goes for his crotch." Kyle must be kissed by his true love to break the spell.
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Single usage of "pissed," "bastard," "asshole," "bitch," and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Much discussion of the superiority of rich people but little mention of brand names other than Cheetos, Blackberries, and Evian.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Kyle and his date drink Vodka after a school dance; Linda's father is a heroin junkie.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beastly is a contemporary "Beauty and the Beast" retelling told from the Beast's viewpoint. And before he turns into a beast, Kyle is one mean, shallow rich guy who delights in verbally kicking the nerds until they hurt. Other violence includes characters getting shot and a broken arm, plus a main character is almost the victim of an apparent rape. There's also plenty of kissing with an inference of sex. The film adaptation came out in 2010.
Is It Any Good?
There are no surprises for readers familar wth the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast," but teens will enjoy the setting and some of the characterizations. The central theme is still transformation and the beast has the same motivations for finding love. Both the main characters (the beauty and the beast) have basically been abandoned emotionally if not physically by their parents, and they attended the same school, so they start off with some common ground.
The use of the chat room sessions for "transformation survivors" adds some entertainment value to a well known story (participants include a mermaid, a frog, and other beasts). Kyle is so mean that it is hard to like him even after he finds true love and the understanding that pretty is as pretty does.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.