Beastly

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Beastly Book Poster Image
Contemporary Beauty-Beast tale curses shallow rich kid.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 38 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value
Positive messages

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 & representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

Single usage of "pissed," "bastard," "asshole," "bitch," and "hell."

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

Parent Written byReadinMama July 23, 2011

Lousy, Boring, and Poorly Written

This book was terrible. The characters were too light and ditsy, and there was no depth to anything. I found it very hard to finish. Some people weren't me... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 13 year old Written byMom of two in Texas September 5, 2010

Casual sex is not acceptable in a novel for teens. Period.

Although the book is inticing and has a redemption theme, it has so many references to casual sex that it is inappropriate for tweens and teens on that fact alo...
Kid, 11 years old February 25, 2011
based on from what i've seen it seems good
Teen, 14 years old Written byZarah March 1, 2011

Read the book before you see the movie!

I recommend this book to anyone who loves FairyTails! I love the modern-day twist it puts on Beauty & the Beast! Plus it has the positive message that i... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a comtemporary retelling of \"Beauty and the Beast,\" Kyle Kingsbury has the perfect life in NYC. He's rich, beautiful, and adored by everyone except his parents. He's also conceited, mean, and shallow, just like his father. So mean that a witch curses him by turning him into a beast, with only two years to find someone who will love him without his beauty. His father travels the globe to find a cure but fails, so he sets Kyle up with a blind tutor and a maid and hides him away. Although Kyle finds solace in gardening and the friendship of his captive staff, when he encounters a thief willing to trade his daughter for freedom, he jumps at the chance to convince a girl he is lovable before his time runs out.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Kyle's transformation. Did he deserve to be cursed? What was the witch's intention? Was a different intention revealed at the end?

  • Kyle and Linda had both been basically abandoned by their parents. In the end Linda returns to her father, but Kyle does not. What was different in those families?

  • Did Kyle think LInda was attractive when he met her? Did she become more attractive to him as he fell in love with her? Or was he seeing a different type of beauty?

  • Our society puts a high premium on physical beauty. Do Kyle and his friends simply say out loud what most people really think? Or are they truly more superficial than normal?

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