Sunday, September 12, 2010


That is what the cover of the Harperteen’s novel Beastly says. I approached the novel with caution. Any novel with a black cover and a movie adaptation out soon is worth the suspicion.

Wait. Black cover, a flower, a movie out soon - oh no...

The novel turns out to be an amusing read. Reasons I loved the novel to bits:

1. The spot on references to the relevant literature texts.
As the novel deals with the evils of vanity, it made references to works like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Phantom of the Opera. That clues me in to the importance of making teenage students connect their reading experience to their private lives, not so much about the beauty of the prose, though that can be led on to later once the students are hooked. There are references to sonnets as well!

2. The excellent use of roses-and-everything-about-growing-roses symbol.
The novel works beautifully with the symbol of roses. The single white rose corsage. Growing roses. Growing roses in a greenhouse to ensure an all year-round availability of roses. The lives and deaths of roses. And it connects with the theme of physical beauty excellently.

3. The first person narration.
It’s weird listening to the story in my head from the narration of a character I hate but that’s what the author put me through and it was addictive. The main character in the earlier part of the story is narcissistic, vain and a total douchebag. Then, things started to change...

And right at the climax until the end, and the ensuing final chapters, I hate the novel. Reasons being:

1. Magic without stakes/ risks/ consequences has no value.
The climax where everything turns out fine just won’t do. Especially when at the beginning of the story, there are so many rules of magic stated – the witch can’t turn the beast back into a human but the beast’s action is going to break the spell itself, there is going to be a kiss involved, there are some margin for bargains, the witch didn’t say that the beast will be invincible once the curse is lifted, bla bla. It was ambiguous but specific. Bottomline: The reader was led to believe that there is always a price to pay from the very beginning. But then at the cllmax, after such harrowing ordeal from the start, everything was erased, and wiped clean like nothing ever happened. Sure, it was happily ever after, but there is only too much magic that I can take.

2. The main character is still a douchebag at the end of the story.
Because the curse had became something just like a nightmare which one can wake up from, the main character remains the douchebag he is. It’s just like a bad dream you go through. In that nightmare you promised yourself “I’ll be a good person if I make it out of this alive” suddenly you wake up from it and you just continue being the careless person that you are. This is what the story is at the end. No stakes, no scars, nothing. The character Kyle is still vain, snobbish and worse, he is rude to his tutor, teacher and friend, Will Fratalli. As this is a story about character-building, such ending fails the purpose of the text.

I hope the film will do better.


  1. I <3 you Shrey, and I see you haven't lost your humour!

  2. Hey Jools,

    Is that a cynical remark or can I take it at face value? I do know who you are!