Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Book Details
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Paperback, 336 Pages
2005, HarperTeen
ISBN: 0060753102

A strange imprisonment

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

I haven't seen the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast in many years, but having viewed it multiple times in my childhood, I'd say I have a pretty good grasp of the basic story line. Robin McKinley's Beauty is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story and I didn't enjoy it very much. Maybe I've been spoiled by remakes and retellings that obviously enhance the previous tale, but Beauty didn't work for me. The main problem was I didn't feel like I was reading a retelling. I felt like I was reading the original.

Perhaps I expected too much. I expected, and wanted, Beauty to feel obvious in its re-imagination. I wanted change from the original - something that made Beauty more than the story it was based on. It felt too familiar to me. There was no newness. Upon finishing the book, I didn't feel like I took anything away from it. It wasn't a bad book, it just didn't provide the excitement I was looking for.

Beauty follows the classic tale step by step. Background details are added to make the book more fleshed out and to add motivation for some of the characters. The writing is solid and nicely detailed. I just wish McKinley had taken more chances while writing this book and made it into something more instead of following the original so closely.


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