Beastly

by Alex Flinn
ages: 13+
First sentence: “Mr. Anderson: Welcome to the first meeting of the Unexpected Changes chat group.”

Kyle Kingman has it all: looks, money, popularity, a hot girlfriend. His father — a newscaster megastar — basically leaves him alone to do what he wants, to buy whatever he wants. Then, one day at school, Kendra shows up. She’s definitely NOT Kyle’s type — ugly, mostly — and on a whim, Kyle decides to ask her to the dance as a joke. Turns out, though, that Kendra’s a witch, and after Kyle ditches her at the dance, she turns him into the Beast that he is. However, since (last minute, and because his girlfriend hated it) he gave a white rose to a girl at the dance, he will have two years to break the curse by (you guessed it) getting someone to fall in love with him as the Beast. And she has to kiss him.

It’s the Beauty and the Beast story, of course, and all the elements are there. The father breaking into the Beast’s house and trading his daughter for his life. The daughter, named Beauty, despising the creature because of her imprisonment but eventually learning to care for him. Beast’s growth and discovering that he really can love. And, yes, the eventual happily-ever-after that comes from a love blossomed out of a friendship. But Flinn takes it and tweaks it just enough, updates it to current times, and then gives us a beast who is broken and lonely and desperate for someone to love him for himself. Amazingly enough, it works on all levels: as a fairy tale, yes, but also as a romance and a story about two broken kids figuring out what it means to love, but also to be loved.

Buy it at Amazon, Powell’s, Half.com, or your local independent bookstore.

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