Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BEASTLY by Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn is one of my all-time favorite YA authors. Her books include BREATHING UNDERWATER - fantastic! and NOTHING TO LOSE - also, remarkable. Many teen readers I know come back to her books again and again. BEASTLY is her latest. It is a bit different, but she still takes a main character with a lot to learn and convinces him to change his ways.

Kyle Kingsbury is one of the privileged. His mother may have left when he was young, but he was left with his father, a wealthy news anchor. Kyle doesn't want for a thing. In addition to his very comfortable lifestyle, Kyle is blessed with good looks, or as the girls in his exculsive high school would probably say, "He's hot!" Unfortunately, Kyle is not a particularly kind individual. There aren't many people that he considers worth his while, and he is not afraid to let the rest of the world know how inferior he thinks they are.

Here's the odd twist about this story. Things open in an online chatroom. The group is rather unusual - a beast (Kyle), an unhappy mermaid, a pouting frog, and someone calling himself Grizzlyguy. It's not your average chatroom crowd. All of them have had run-ins with witches and been the victims of evil spells. Kyle became a beast when he played a nasty trick by he cruelly inviting an unpopular girl to a special school dance knowing he was actually going with his current hot girlfriend. Once there, he and his girlfriend humiliate the other girl only to discover she is actually a witch with the power to change his life forever.

Readers hear Kyle's story as he struggles to remove the curse. Much like other fairy tales, he must fall in love and have the love returned in the form of a kiss in order to beat the spell. He soon learns this is easier said than done.

For those familiar with Alex Flinn and her usual realistic approach to YA novels, you won't be disappointed. This book may focus on fantasy, but the lessons learned are all too real. The fantasy will hit close to home for anyone who has ever found themselves the outcast looking for acceptance. Every collection should include a copy of BEASTLY.

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