This is NOT a Retelling: Beast by Brie Spangler

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?

Source: GoodReads

Beast sort of reminds me of a furby. A toy, or in this case a book, you desperately want and when you play—or in this case read it—you are like more than a little annoyed and end up throwing the damn thing in the garbage because it’s so fucking annoying.

Fucking furbies.

Fucking furbies.

Note: I didn’t throw this book in the trash like I may or may not have thrown away a furby (God, I just aged myself there). But I did throw it in the storage/giveaway chest after I finished the nonsense that was Beast.

This is not a Beauty and the Beast retelling. The only thing it had in common with Beauty and the Beast was that it featured a slightly hairy dude and hot chick. If you really want what this book was about it was about a transphobic brat who falls in love with an awesome trans girl not realizing she’s trans and when he finds out acts like a dick for the rest of the book.

See the problem here?

To be fair, while I didn’t like Dylan’s reaction or several of the characters’ reactions to finding out that Jamie was transgender, it was unfortunately realistic. The thing is; I just wish there were some characters that had a more positive outlook than Dylan, his mom, or that dick (JP).

Though, I think we’re supposed to take that dick as being a misguided best friend. Nope, he’s a dick who bullies. I couldn’t stand him. And I didn’t get why Dylan was able to be friends with him in the end based on all the shit he put him through. Also, Dylan’s mom needs a Golden Charlie for pimping that toxic relationship and being to horrible to Jaime.

Really, lady, if you’re son thinks his so-called wonderful friend is a dick maybe you should listen rather than being a hateful bigot about his new girlfriend.

On the bright side, I really did like Jaime. I mentioned in my status updates that had the book been in her point of view or even if the book had been in dual point of view it would’ve been better. Jaime has some of the better dialogue and realistic character development—save for wanting be with Dylan—throughout the book. So more of her would’ve been worth it.

I think in the end Beast was not what I wanted for a transgendered Beauty and the Beast retelling. The shades of the fairytale that were there were shallow at best and probably the only reason the comparisons were made were to sell the book. And honestly, it probably worked here with me because I’m a junkie for Beauty and the Beast retellings. As far as a book about transgender issues go, I can only give a limited opinion on this as a cis female. However, I did not like how transphobic so many of these characters seemed.   While I get that that is an unfortunate element of reality, it annoyed me that the male lead was so transphobic throughout most of the book. Also, since this book focused on trans issues, I really think the trans character should’ve been given her own point of view. This is one of the big reasons this book didn’t work for me and I would recommend If I Was Your Girl for someone who is interested in exploring these issues instead. Because while a little preachy, that book does a good job exploring issues that a trans character has to face.

Overall Rating: I’m going to be generous and give it a solid C. I was able to finish it, which is actually saying a lot. I just didn’t like a lot of the choices made in telling this story and for fuck’s sake it’s NOT a Beauty and the Beast retelling. If anything comparing it to that fairytale made me a more pissed off reader.


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