- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1st edition (September 16, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688154395
- ISBN-13: 978-0688154394
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 265 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hardcover – September 16, 1997
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So perhaps this is not the tale for you, and certainly it is not always the tale for me even, for sometimes to feel melancholy is very terrible. But it is a very good story, in its way. A charming and lovely one.
I will be honest, for all that I half wish to just yell that everyone should read this, and give a nice little list of pros and cons, as they stood out to me:
Beauty is quite an excellent version of her character. She is strong in heart and mind, and though her name is Beauty for her physical beauty, it seems to apply more to her inner beauty, for her most prominent character trait is probably that she is kind. But it doesn't feel forced or cheesy or cliche, and she isn't kind in the face of anything ridiculous. She is patient, but she's not a wimp or a wilting damsel.
The Beast is interesting. I liked how he became a beast, who he was before, and his casual kindness.
This is a book of much kindness, triumphing over evil, which I personally think is splendid.
The relationship between Beauty and her sisters is nice. It's well-developed, the sisters are distinct characters, who don't always get along but in a realistic way. Their character development is perhaps abrupt, but it didn't feel that way, or if it does it feels like it is abrupt because it ought to be. It makes sense, and they don't become different people entirely--they are simply different.
There are others but I'm terrible at making a bullet point, so I'll summarize the pros as: the characters are generally good, the setting is elaborate without taking so long to decide everything as to make you stop caring, the repeated themes and similar are very nice, and overall it's just an enjoyable read.
There are only three big cons I can think of. First off, what feels most important to me, is the Beast himself. He has many excellent moments, but he never quite develops into a character. He is always the Beast and, even when theoretically developed, he just falls a bit flat, which draws from my second major con:
Underexplaining. The more I think about the story, the more questions I come up with. Some of it is simply the underexplaining of a fairy tale, and didn't bother to much. But even those bother you, once you've (metaphorically or otherwise) put the book down. I won't actually ask the questions, because they're spoilers, but while key things are explained--some key things aren't. Some very important things are--left up to interpretation I guess? It's odd, mostly. And some of them aren't explained but you definitely know the truth of them by the end--but at the same time, you (or at least I) would have liked then expanded upon.
Finally, the fairytale cliche: instalove. The romance between Beauty and the Beast is...unconvincing. It's not distracting, or terrible, but it's, well. It's instalove. It has to be said.
But I'm giving it five stars. Because despite everything, reading it was a delight.
I admit, it was slow at times, but slow was just the thing I needed at the moment. It was just the right pace for me and I while some readers are not happy with the way McKinley decided to dot the i with this one, I have to say that I'm one of those readers who like that ending. I like that it's different and I liked that I didn't predict it right from the start.
I'm not saying that this book is perfect, because it isn't, but it was damn good and I didn't care in the slightest about the fact that Beauty and Beast didn't get to really interact before there was love; I didn't care that some of it made little sense (e.g. flowers blooming in less than 7 days when at the beginning they were dying); I didn't care that some questions I had, were left unanswered, because all that matters, is that I had a real good time reading and I would gladly read more of McKinley's books when I get the chance.
I didn't really read enough into this to know what it was. I kind of thought it would be a continuation of her book "Beauty" which was the best and most beautiful version of "Beauty and the Beast" that I've ever read, but it was simply a different version. McKinley talks about how this is the version that she wanted to write, but she couldn't get it "right" and wouldn't accept it until this one..... I think it's still a failure.
It might just be because I'm comparing it to the beauty of "Beauty", but even without her previous version, I wouldn't like this one. The story is not well thought out (or maybe she just overthought it for too many years). It is very confusing and doesn't have a very good flow. It just seems like a lot of information was omitted and the information that was given doesn't always match up. Also the ending was just rushed and seemed like a bunch of nonsense.
After putting the book down for a while, I did realize that there were some very interesting aspects of this version of the story and had it not felt so rushed and mottled, it might have been a good story.
I strongly think she just spent too long mulling over this idea and by the time she wrote it down, she was able to read it and fill in the missing bits on her own. Therefore, she had no idea how this would read for someone who didn't have the full concept in their head.... I don't know if that made sense.... but yeah.