Kyle Kingsbury is a rich, spoiled young jerk, the alpha male at his prestigious high school and dating an equally rich, spoiled girl. Then, he decides to pull a mean prank on the token Weird Girl, by inviting her to prom then acting like he didn’t when she arrives.
Unfortunately for him the Weird Girl is in fact a witch, and she curses him to live as a beast.
Beastly is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It jumps from Kyle’s experiences, to his discussion about it in a chat room for people affected by magic transformations. This part, while it didn’t have a strong bearing on the plot, both gave Kyle people to talk to (his father being ashamed of his son) and added in some lighter humor and hints to a future story (the author has written a modern version of the Frog Prince).
Watching Kyle’s slow transformation from a spoiled brat to a genuinely caring person was fantastic. His mirror allows him to see what people’s lives are really like. He sees his “perfect” girlfriend still has all the problems everyone else does, and he sees that the poor girl he mostly ignored has a terrible life with a father who (as it turns out) is willing to give her over to someone for whatever they want in order to save his own life. This is Kyle’s justification for accepting Lindy into his home; it’s better than her own home, and her father might give her over to sex abusers the next time.
Kendra, the witch, is also an interesting character as she takes an active hand in encouraging Kyle to better himself. She isn’t punishing him; she is disciplining him, and it’s clear she wants him to change. It was in fact his potential to change (rather than throw away the rose his girlfriend rejected, he gave it to Lindy) that convinced her to give him a second chance.
Alex Flinn gets creative in his take on how the modern world would deal with the circumstances from a fairy tale (such as seeing specialists-this part reminded me a lot of Penelope), and it’s a fun, light read.