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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Beauty

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the BeastTitle: Beauty
Author: Robin McKinley
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: young adult, fairytale retelling, fantasy romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less: A lush and vivid retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast, this story drives home that there are all kinds of beasts...but even more kinds of beauty.

Upon finishing this book, I took to Twitter to gather up more recommendations for retellings of the story of Beauty and the Beast (probably my favorite fairy tale.)  While a variety of different titles were recommended (and indeed, that'll probably be a post on its own at some point) I thought it was very telling that the title that came up most in other people's recommendations was this one!  Indeed I agree with the other supporters of this title- in the arena of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, this one is top notch.

First, though, a note on the genre classification; although this book is covered under the umbrella of young adult, it definitely appeals to a wide audience.  One of its strengths is that there's something here for everyone to enjoy- the romance is thoroughly accessible and there isn't any objectionable content.  Younger readers would definitely not be exposed to anything here that's more intense than the Disney version of the story, and yet, there are plenty of layers of detail and setting to keep everyone engaged.  Something for everyone!

Beauty is the name of the book, and beauty is the name of our heroine- despite her continued affirmation that she's quite plain, Beauty is dedicated to her family, hardworking, educated, a pragmatist to the bitter end, and honorable almost to a fault.  These traits come to the forefront when she takes her father's place in fulfilling a bargain made to the odious owner of a magical castle.  Her freedom for his; no more, no less.

We're all familiar with the overarching story of Beauty and the Beast, but what this book offers that's unique is a heroine who isn't bubbleheaded or unbelievably innocent.  Nope, she's honorable (Honour is her real name after all) and honest, and once she starts to look beyond the surface she realizes that the Beast isn't all he claims to be either.  And there's no misogynist creep for a villain in this version either- da-rool, da-rool!

Sadly, this book is not available for Kindle yet, but if and when it does I'll definitely be buying a digital copy.  This is the kind of book I can see myself going back to again and again.  The prose is lyrical and beautiful, the story is elegant and romantic, and, of course, everyone lives happily ever after.  Who could ask for anything more?

Overall Grade: A
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