Xactly Why I Think Beastly is An Xcellent Story

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Say What

An X?

Wow

I couldn’t think of anything, of any name that had an X in it. I decided that I would just shelve it for now and come back to it later.

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But then the days passed and we grew closer and closer to the 24th and I had no idea what to pick.

I don't know what to do

But then my friend returned my book Beastly, by AleFlinn, that I had let her borrow. I looked at it and I knew!

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This was the book I was going to use for my X.

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Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1) by Alex Flinn

So I don’t know exactly how I stumbled onto this book. But I read it, loved it, and then went on to read everything else Flinn wrote.

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Flinn is a master teller at taking fairy tales and rewriting them in modern times with youth audiences and characters.

FairyTales

Now I read this years ago, a few years after it was published and just absolutely loved it. Then I heard the movie was coming out based on it, and tracked that film; so excited to see it on the screen and dragging two of my friends with me. But then I saw it:

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It was horrible. I did not like it one bit. They just cut the heart and soul of the book leaving a shadow of what it was. The book was much better.

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Now when I first read the book I had only previously seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and read the tale it was based on. Since then, I have seen a few other things and I have noticed that Flinn pulls from both La Belle et la Bête

And the Beauty and the Beast TV show from the ’80s.

In fact one of the characters is called Lindy in the book and Linda Hamilton played “Belle” in the TV show. Coincidence? I think not. Plus the way he looks, the way he protect Lindy, havoc on the subway, etc.

Well that’s enough of that, let’s check out the book.

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So we start in a way I have never seen a retelling of a fairy tale start before. With IMing between a bunch of different fairy tale characters. We have the little mermaid from The Little Mermaid, the Bear from Snow White and Rose Red, the frog prince from The Frog Prince, and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast,  And who is the chat room run by? Mr. Anderson.

No, not that Mr. Anderson. Anderson as in Hans Christian Andersen.

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So then we flashback to how our Beast, became a beast.

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Part 1: A Prince and a Witch

Kyle Kingsbury is a freshman at a private school, Tuttle, and the son of the very wealthy news anchor, Rob Kingsbury. Kyle is a perfect dreamboat, utter perfection in height, looks, etc.

swoon dreamy

But while the outside is a treat, how he acts is the exact opposite.

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All he cares about is his looks and popularity, hurting and being cruel to others around him. This year they are getting ready for homecoming and have their election for freshman Prince, of which Kyle is nominated. As they start voting, one person speaks out.

I don't think so

Kendra Hilferty is not what most would call beautiful. She has a strange green hair, is rather plain, and dresses in black “gothish” type clothing. She is upset about how this contest is all about looks instead of who they are, telling Kyle he is ugly where it really counts.

Ugly

Kyle is angry over what Kendra said so he decides to play a trick on her. He invites her to the Homecoming dance, all the while planning on going with his real girlfriend, Sloane, and roasting Kendra.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

When Sloane hears that Kyle will be going with Kendra, she is livid, but Kyle calms her down when he tells her about his “joke”. Kyle doesn’t really like Sloane, she’s really annoying and bratty, but she is the hottest girl and after tonight is going to let him come to her house while her parents are out…well as long as he brings an orchid.

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Kyle goes home and tries to talk to his dad, but he doesn’t care. Kyle doesn’t have a mom as she left years ago and has never tried to contact him. His dad is super shallow and only cares about himself and his needs, never thinking of his child or the example he is setting.

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That night Kyle is ready to go to the ball, dance I mean (I’m reading too many fairy tales), when it turns out his maid Madga didn’t buy the orchid but bought a single, white rose. Sloane is furious about there being no orchid and refuses to have the rose. However, there is a scholarship student taking the tickets who exclaims over its beauty. Kyle gives it to her, the only genuine, nice thing he has ever done.

How sweet!

How sweet!

When Kendra arrives and discovers what he has done she tells him he will pay for what he has done and will be as ugly on the outside as he truly is on the inside.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

Kyle is upset, and scared, but continues to do what is expected as Prince of Homecoming. But at twelve o’clock that night Kendra appears to him and reveals she is a witch, and Kyle is turned into a beast.

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NOOOOOOO!

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Part 2: The Beast

When Kyle’s father discovers the transformation, he carts him all over the United States to see what they can do. But nothing can change him.

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He cuts his hair, it grows back. He slices his skin, it instantly heals. Kendra gives him a magic mirror that allows him to see anyone he wants, and she uses it to “call” him throughout the book. Nothing can destroy him, and nothing can change him back except if he could find someone to love him in this bestial form. And he has two years, because of his gift of the rose, to find it or be stuck as a beast forever!

Belle could

And this is what I don’t like about the film. They just give him a bunch of tattoos, but that isn’t as hard to love as something that doesn’t even look human. Plus they cut out how long he has to be a beast, removing his first year of angst, anxiety, and depression and being pushed apart from the rest of the world.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

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Part 3: The Castle

Yes, Kyle’s father can’t stand the sight of him and ships him off to an old brownstone in Brooklyn which has old windows that can’t open and no one can come in and see him. He sends Magda to take care of him and things to amuse him.

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Kyle decides that he is no longer Kyle. After careful consideration, he chooses Adrian as it speaks of his new nature. He tries to find love online, but Kendra warns him that won’t work.

I don't think so

After deciding he will spend the rest of his life alone, he blackmails his father into providing him a tutor. The father complies, but selects a blind tutor, that way no one will hear of what his son is.

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Will, the tutor, comes into Adrian’s life and he and Magda become his only friend, besides those who also have been transformed that he IMs. This is really interesting as they follow what occurs in those stories too.

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Adrian discovers that Will used to have sight, but lost it as he aged. Magda had a family, but they weren’t allowed into the country so she is alone now. Adrian calls Kendra and works a deal that if he finds his love to break the spell, Kendra will grant the wishes of the others.

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Adrian begins to read and study as he has nothing else in his life.

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Something else he does with his time is watch people from his former life and school. One day he looks up the girl he gave the rose to, Lindy. Lindy is from a poor neighborhood and is a scholarship student. Her father is a drug addict and pusher, and she tries as hard as she can to take care of him. She spends as much time as she can reading, the library being her refuge.

LibraryOK

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Part 4: The Intruder in the Garden

One night everything changes. Adrian hears a crash and discovers that someone is trying to break into the house.

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He goes to protect it and threatens the man with police. The man, in fear for his life, offers to trade his daughter for his life. He shows Adrian a picture and it is Lindy.

Whattheheck

Adrian is horrified that he would do such a thing, but accepts as he wants to protect her and has hope that maybe she is the one to break the spell.

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Lindy moves in, and things do not go according to Adrian’s plan. Lindy is furious and wants to leave. Will at first feels the same way, but after meeting her father agrees with Adrian’s solution.

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After giving him a lot of time, Lindy starts to come around as she is just as lonely. At first she is weirded out by Adrian’s appearance, but as their friendship grows she begins to enjoy being around him.

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Part 5: Time Lapses, Autumn and Winter

Adrian begins to care more about Lindy’s feelings than his own desires to have the curse broken and gets his dad to rent them a place in the country where they are freer to roam and hangout. He also decides to release Lindy from her commitment to stay with him, and she decides to remain there.

How sweet!

How sweet!

However, one night Lindy says how she is worried about her father and Adrian shows her the mirror. When she looks into it, she sees her father, sick and shaking. She leaves to go take care of him and promises to return.

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Months pass and no Lindy.

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Adrian starts to become depressed and decides that he will be a beast forever.

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They move back to the brownstone and still no Lindy.

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Adrian watches her in the mirror but she never comes to him. All have given up hope except Magda, who keeps encouraging Adrian. It comes down to the final day and still no Lindy.

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Then at night Adrian hears Lindy scream and looks her up in the mirror. She is being held up for money owed by her dad. Adrian takes off in the subway, not caring who sees him, but going to her aid.

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When he arrives, the other pusher is so freaked at his appearance he shoots Adrian, who continues to run at him tossing the gun aside and saving Lindy. As Adrian starts bleeding, Lindy says the words he has always desperately wanted to hear:

Beauty and the Beast

Instantly, he is transformed into Kyle again.

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Part 6: Happily Ever After

The police come and after they deal with that mess they return to the brownstone. When they get there it is revealed that Magda is really Kendra.

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She too had to serve a sentence and Kyle’s breaking of his spell has allowed her to return home to her family. Will’s eyes are healed and three pick up their lives; Will teaching at Tuttle and Lindy and Kyle attending. They continue to live at the brownstone, a happy family, with Kyle being a better person.

Carl and her married!!!

In the end we hear from the chat group how each has completed their own journey, some with happy endings and others with ones that were not quite what they expected.

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It was a great book and I just LOVE it.

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I highly recommend it for any fairy tale fan.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previos post, go to There’s a Cyclone Coming: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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For more Alex Flinn, go to Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

For more on Beauty and the Beast, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more fairy tales, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more Audrey Hepburn quotes, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

For more on Hans Christian Anderson, go to I Will Not Bend, I Will Not Break

For more G. K. Chesterton, go to A Book Only a Reader Could Write

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Let me just start with this, George you will be missed.

So as this book is about true and false love, I decided to go with the song that has been on the radio nonstop, Last Christmas by Wham!

I love Wham! I’ve been obsessed with them for a looong time. This isn’t my favorite by them, for the longest time I didn’t even like this song; but after hearing it on the radio constantly I grew to really love it.

It was written by the late, great George Michael and tells the tale of someone giving their heart to someone, only to have it broken as they were unfaithful.

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But luckily they find someone to give their heart to that will protect it.

It has been extremely popular and been constantly redone by other artists. Wham! is my favorite, not just because I love the band, but because it is nice to hear the broken heart from a guy’s point of view instead of always a woman.

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For more ’80s music, go to No Mere Mortal Can Resist the Evil of the Thriller: Thriller (1983)

For more Christmas Carols, go to It Looks…as Though We are Being Kidnapped: Five Were Missing

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A Book Only a Reader Could Write

So I wanted to publish this post yesterday, but my computer and I weren’t on the best speaking terms. We have since resolved that issue.

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And the computer has since then come along to my way of thinking. So sorry if I’m a day behind, but better late than never!

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Some books you read and you just know that there was no way this book could ever exist unless the author grew up as a huge fan of reading.

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Such as Matilda by Roald Dahl. Only someone who grew up reading could create a character that gave a voice to all us bibliophiles out there.

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Or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Only someone who truly loved to read could create the most dismal future, a time when books are outlawed and destroyed. The book is full of glimpses into what might actually happen, unless we take the time to read and value the thoughts and creations found between the pages.

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Well The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, is definitely one of those books.

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The book was first published in 1979 and then translated into English in 1983. As this is it anniversary, thankfully pointed out by Google, I thought it deserved no less than a post by me.

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The story was such a big part of my childhood, with book and film.

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So the book begins with young Bastian Balthazar Bux; a shy, awkward, introvert:

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Who has been grieving over the loss of his mother and feels disconnected from his father.

Aw, man.

Aw.

He doesn’t really have any friends and is bullied at school. The one thing that Bastian does have is his books.

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With their help he is able to escape reality:

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And here is reason number one why this book is awesome and proof, author Ende must have been a reader; he just understands us so well. I mean even today I still like to escape my reality with a good book:

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Anyways, so Bastian is being chased by bullies when he runs into a bookstore owned by Carl Conrad Coreander. While hiding out, he spots the book The Neverending Story.

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Bastian just has to have the book, but the ornery shop owner doesn’t seem interested in the idea of selling, and such a book that would be far too expensive. So Bastian does something he has never done before, he steals it.

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He runs up to school, deciding to hide away in the attic, reading the story and being thrust into the world of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film).

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Fantastica is falling apart. The dark nothing is destroying it, piece by piece until it will fade away and there will be nothing left. Only one thing can save them; the childlike empress has chosen Atreyu, a native of the plains, to search throughout Fantastica to discover what can be done. As Bastian reads, he becomes more and more involved with the characters. So wrapped up in the book he stays throughout all his periods, in the cold, all the while starving.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

But that’s silly. They aren’t real people.

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But yet, the characters do seem real. And it almost seems as if they know he exists and is part of the journey with them.

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When Atreyu is traveling he hears what the salvation of Fantastica is:

Born of the Word, the children of man,

Or humans, as they’re sometimes called,

Have had the gift of giving names

Ever since the worlds began,

In every age it’s they who gave

The Childlike Empress life,

For wondrous new names have the power to save.

But now for many and many a day,

No human has visited Fantastica,

For they no longer know the way.

They have forgotten how real we are,

They don’t believe in us anymore.

Oh, if only one child of man would come,

Oh, then at last the thing would be done.”

But where to find such a human child?

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Atreyu continues on his journeys, getting help from Falkor, the luck dragon.

One of the best parts of the book, at least I think so, is when Atreyu faces Gmork, the werewolf. Gmork has become an agent of the Nothing, trying to destroy Fantastica and along with it the human world. Without Fantastica, the world is filled with lies instead of truth, despair instead of hope, destruction instead of creation; pretty much containing nothing.

I love this part as it shows why stories and books are so important. They help us create, they give us hope, dreams, ideas, etc. We need stories, we need hope, we need it as much as we need life.

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And we need to start reading at a young age; so we can have the foundations to fight against all the darkness we will face as we grew older.

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So Atreyu returns to the Empress, defeated. He has no way to stop the nothing. He has failed.

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But the empress is not upset at all. In fact, she says that Atreyu has fulfilled his mission. He has brought a human child here through all his adventures. And she is talking about Bastian!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

The reader has been called into the story? And not just called, but the hero! How cool is that! And how awesome if that could happen. Can you just imagine if the characters started talking to you in the middle of your favorite story?

So cool, I want it to be true.

So cool, I want it to be true.

This is my favorite part of the book, the second half isn’t as strong (in my opinion) as the first half. But still one great book.

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The movie was just as amazing. Now they did make changes, but I thought it kept the soul and heart of the book. I used to watch it over and over.

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Even now I cannot think or say the words “Neverending Story” without singing them like in the film’s song.

I recently showed the film to my niece and realized I am not only like Bastian, but Coreander. Yes, I have the soul of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like the youth’s fascination with technology rather than books.

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The rest of the story is just as beautiful, fascinating, adventurous, and powerful. And don’t forget the end of the film when the childlike Empress is talking right to you.  Shivers run up and down my spine, it is so good.

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I mean I feel like she is talking right to me!

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The other movies I didn’t really enjoy, but that first one was a true winner.

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So there you have it. One amazing book that I am glad existed to become a part of my childhood, in both print and on the screen.

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And you can bet your boots I will most definitely be checking out the film Sunday when they rerelease it in theaters. Don’t worry childlike Empress, Fantastic/Fantasia will always exist as long as I am alive!

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For more on The Neverending Story, go to The Neverending Story

For more anniversary posts, go to Here’s to Another Year

For more book-filled posts, go to A World of Teas

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For more Roald Dahl, go to We Shall Rule the World!

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Ernest Hemingway, go to Fiction or Reality? I Choose Fiction

For more Markus Zusak, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more Richard Marek, go to Crazy Book Lady