A quirky and endearing love story, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Brie Splangler’s unique novel about love and acceptance is one any reader can appreciate, young or old.
Beauty and the Beast with a twist.
Beast follows Dylan, one of the most lovable, and seriously annoying, characters I’ve read. He’s an awkward, hairy, gigantic 15-year-old, and, he’s having a horrible time at life. The story opens after Dylan has an accident which leads him to having surgery, and then leads him to group therapy after his doctor questions whether his fall was really a simple mishap.
Immediately, the reader understands that Dylan is a contradiction of oddities: incredibly smart but naïve and ignorant. He’s self-absorbed, careless about other people’s feelings, self-conscious, sensitive, resilient, observant, and oblivious. He’s a teenager.
Dylan meets Jamie in group therapy and his life becomes simultaneously more complicated and simple. Jamie is a girl who Dylan immediately gravitates toward and feels oddly at ease with, even though he doesn’t understand what she sees in him. Jamie opens Dylan’s world up to the wonder of first love, but exposes him to the painful angst and uncertainty that comes with being around someone you’re dying to impress when you’re already so freaking awkward.
I didn’t read the synopsis before I began reading this book. I read the back cover, which featured what I later realized was an excerpt from the book, so I got to experience Dylan’s fall as he did, which was sweet and romantic, though I was ahead of the game with regards to Jamie’s secret—no one is as clueless as Dylan is. Though, I guess, love makes you blind.
I’m going to recommend readers dive into this one with an open heart and mind, and avoid the official synopsis if you possibly can. It’s an intimate and truly beautiful treat to watch Dylan and Jamie discover each other, and examine their feelings for each other.
I thought the narrative was fantastic, even if a bit wacky at times. Dylan is a character who lives inside his head most of the time (something I can relate to) and though his thoughts don’t always make sense, his character is authentic. There were a few times when Spangler lost me, when I got distracted and was able to put the book down, and some plot points that I thought were random, but now I see showed Dylan’s change over time. Overall, I loved the world Brie Spangler created. It’s real-world Portland, Oregon, but Dylan’s character and the prose, as well as the surrounding characters (most of them I couldn’t stand!) made Beast feel magical. I thought this book had a somewhat similar feel to the movie Penelope. (If you’ve never watched it, watch it!)
This novel is about acceptance–both of ourselves, and others around us. It’s also about realizing that everyone is going through something, and being aware that we can help each other survive this stupid, beautiful world. The message and the retelling have been done before, but Brie Spangler places a dually modern, yet sweetly classic spin on the tale. It’s a love that I’d never read about before or experienced, yet a love that I see everywhere. I recommend.
Today didn’t start off as the worst day ever.
When I ate a small breakfast of six pancakes, four pieces of toast, and a quick fistful of bacon, I though maybe Mom was onto something when she said, “This is your year, Dylan. I can feel it!” Because, I don’t know, perhaps after this epic crapstorm of foot-long growth spurts and shaving since the sixth grade, sophomore year <b>would be</b> my year. I’ve never had a good year. It’d be a nice change. I even saw a lucky penny lying heads up on the sidewalk on my way to the bus stop. A sign from my dad that he was thinking about me. But that false hop of One Good Year shattered when St. Lawrence had to go and ban hats and long hair on guys. . . .