Beastly

Alex Flinn

Kyle Kingsbury’s good looks and father’s riches got him far in life. He was just named as one of the prince nominees for the spring dance court when his classmate, Kendra Hilferty, brings attention to how disgusting it is that these competitions are based on a person’s attractiveness rather than more important qualities such as intelligence or bravery. Wanting to put her in her place, Kyle decides to humiliate her at the school dance. In return, she reveals to him her true identity as a witch and transforms Kyle into a creature with claws, fangs, and an excessive amount of hair. As a beast, Kyle must find true love in two years or remain this way forever.

Kyle is portrayed to be an unlikeable character at the beginning of the novel. Alex Flinn exaggerates the bad qualities associated with him to have this impact on the reader. His manipulative nature, conceitedness, and insensitivity are made clear through his actions and interactions with other characters in the story. After he is put under Kendra’s spell, we see a new side to him causing our perceptions of him to shift. For instance, Kyle becomes compassionate and sensitive to the issues of others. This teaches readers that everyone has the potential to change. This and the many other morals in this book, that mainly relate to love, make this a worthwhile read.

I associate a very nostalgic mood with parts of this book due to the many fairy tale references it includes. Often in the novel, there would be text threads between Kyle and other creatures that were considering transformations or were transformed. The screen name, SilentMaid, represented the Little Mermaid. This was done in a mature way that didn’t make you feel like you were reading a book targeted at a younger audience. These text threads also added a more interesting element to the book because it told the story in a creative way.

The short two years the beast was given to reverse the curse was a strategic way of implementing suspense into Alex Flinn’s novel. It gradually increases in intensity as Kyle’s deadline approaches. It makes you obsessively continue reading to anxiously see if Kyle can manage to change back to his former self. The ending of the novel relieves the readers stress and leaves them very satisfied because it doesn’t just resolve the problems of the main characters, but updates us on the supporting characters like Kyle’s blind tutor, Will. For these reasons, I found Beastly to be a stunning read. – Julia K.

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The Hazel Wood

Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. Now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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