Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Beast

Brie Spangler
Contemporary Young Adult
336 pages
Available October 11th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Beast is a beautiful contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, calling into question the standard definitions of both words as we look through the eyes of a young man struggling to find any semblance of comfort in his own skin.

We're treated to Dylan's point of view throughout, his self-deprecating sense of humor making us laugh right out of the gate even as we hurt for him, feeling the sting of casually flung words that strike far deeper than likely intended. He loathes his appearance, wanting desperately to be shorter and smoother so that his days might not be filled with laughter directed at him but rather with him thanks to packaging that better reflects the man he feels he is. He's a sympathetic character from the beginning, and we can't help but feel as overprotective as his adorable (and text-obsessed) mother when those around him tear at his self-confidence with insult-tipped claws.

He meets Jamie in group therapy, and having a gorgeous young woman actually talk to him–rather than look at him in fear and then recount her close encounter with the Beast to her friends later–gives him cause for a genuine smile instead of a forced one. He misses the fact that Jamie is trans when she admits it in group, but thankfully that misunderstanding doesn't continue too long, and we're spared the drawn-out suspense of knowing something Dylan doesn't while his relationship with Jamie unfolds. Though he doesn't handle it well in the moment, he does make a valiant effort to apologize to Jamie, and we get to spend the latter half of the book watching as Dylan gets out of his own way and lets his heart do the thinking.

Overall, Beast is a quick read with a truly lovable male protagonist who gets tripped up by perception and the opinions of others, but manages to get up again and walks away seeing clearer for having done so.

Rating: 4/5

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This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.


  1. It's always interesting when we have a retelling, I'm always really curious to see how I'll fell. This one sounds good!

  2. I am seeing re-tellings around today and this one sounds good

  3. I was curious about this one, Jenny. It sounds like it's a terrific story with a lot of heart. The male protagonist especially intrigues me! I'm glad you liked this one, Jenny! :)
    Great review!

  4. I'm not the biggest fan of retellings but this one sounds like a fantastic take and since I strive to read more diverse books, this sounds slike the right one to add to my pile!

    Great review Jenny!

  5. I like the sound of the Beast. I am curious now about this one even though I have struggled with retellings.

  6. I find it so hard to resist a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it is by far my favorite fairy tale. I think I will have to give this a try Jenny!

  7. I love retellings but I'm always weary of the contemporary ones, but this one sounds adorable. We are lacking in the LGBTA retellings.

  8. Love that this is told from the male perspective

  9. This sounds perfect for me. My fave retelling is the B&B ones. Totally marking this one at the library.

  10. Okay, I'm not much for YA, but this sounds fantastic!

  11. The author had me at "hairier than most throw rugs" BA HA HA! Must read this. Great review, Jenny!

  12. I was very curious about this book. Beauty and the Beast retelling are my weakness, and this book has a gorgeous cover and intriguing premise. After your review, I can’t wait to read it myself. Wonderful review, Jenny!

  13. This is exactly the sort of retelling that I need in my life, Beast sounds like it goes above and beyond from what you'd expect from a retelling, but I really like that. Lovely review Jenny! :)

  14. I like this contemporary ode to the fairy tale without resorting to magical elements. I'll be sure to look for this one at my library.

  15. I'm really looking forward to this one since I love how the author chose to change up the typical plot of this re-telling so I'm glad this has your approval, Jenny! Gorgeous review, my dear!

  16. I'm a fan of retellings and it's not too often you get a contemporary like this and one that is diverse and full of heart. Lovely review, Jenny!

  17. Oh, this one sounds absolutely lovely. I really appreciate the presence of a trans character in this book. I think I am going to move this one up my TBR pile. I also really love the cover, it's beautiful.

    Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  18. Huh! I don't read many contemporaries but...a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast?! With a trans character? WOW. I could totally get into this :D Lovely review as always Jenny! xx