Author: Alex Flinn
Published: In 2007 by HarperTeen
My Rating: 4 stars
Tags: YA | Romance | Fairytale Retelling
Includes: Brief Profanity
First Lines: I could feel everyone looking at me, but I was used to it. One thing my dad taught me early and often was to act like nothing moved me.
Kyle Kingsbury is arrogant, rude, and stuck up. His popularity at high school is solely based on his looks. So one day in English class, when he embarrasses a goth new student, he's in for a surprise. Later that night, Kendra, the freaky new student, turns out to be a witch in disguise and turns Kyle into a beast. Claws, fangs, hair, and all. She tells him that the only way to break the curse (and become a human again) is to have someone fall in love with him, and kiss him. Oh, and he has exactly two years before the spell is permanent. No pressure.
This was the first modern retelling of a fairytale that I've ever read, and I gotta say that I really enjoyed it. The entire novel was super predictable, but I had fun reading it along the way. I personally love the story of "Beauty and the Beast", and this book is very similar to that - except it's set in contemporary New York City. Kyle is such a conceited jerk the first few chapters into the story, and the author did a great job at making the reader despise him. The whole "lesson" of the book is obviously that inner beauty is what counts, not appearance.
I really loved seeing the symbolism of the roses, which appear throughout the whole novel. It makes me enjoy and understand the cover better now, and even the font (with the thorns) is an awesome effect. I'm also glad that the story was written in first person - it was insightful reading the mind of such an egotistical protagonist.
From page 38
"Second grade, you told Terry Fisher that the reason her head was lopsided was because her mother had slammed it in the car door. She cried for an hour. Do you think that's funny?" Yeah. Kind of.
There were interesting side plots in the book, such as between chapters when the author would write in AIM lingo. Kyle would go on the Unexpected Changes Chat Room, where he would talk with other people that were morphed into creatures - frogs, mermaids, etc. These were usually humorous, and I really enjoyed these sections of the story.
I think the ending was a little too over-the-top and fairytale-ish, but that's just my opinion. Linda, the girl who Kyle wants to fall in love with, is such an adored character; I really liked her. Overall, this was an enjoyable book. It was predictable and down to the point, but yet still cute and a light, breezy read. I'll be reading more from this author.