Saturday, August 5, 2017

*Review* Beast by Donna Jo Napoli

Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: July 1, 2004
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 272


Meet the Beast-- before there was Beauty
Orasmyn is the prince of Persia and heir to the throne. His religion fills his heart and his mind, and he strives for the knowledge and leadership his father demonstrates. But on the day of the Feast of Sacrifices, Orasmyn makes a foolish choice that results in a fairy's wretched punishment: He is turned into a beast, a curse to be undone only by the love of a woman.
Thus begins Orasmyn's journey through the exotic Middle East and sensuous France as he struggles to learn the way of the beast, while also preserving the mind of the man. This is the story of his search, not only for a woman courageous enough to love him, but also for his own redemption.

I received an audiobook copy of this book through Audiofile Sync's summer reading for teenagers program absolutely free of charge with no strings attached. This is my honest review. 

I loved this take on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. The blend of old and new elements was smooth and made perfect sense within the confines of the story. I especially liked how Orasmyn was turned into an actual beast (a lion) and not just a human-like beast that can talk like in the Disney version of the story. It was interesting seeing how Orasmyn adjusted to his new form and I loved watching him try to navigate life as a lion, which was apparently not easy for someone who wasn't born as a lion (and that makes sense). 

I spent most of this book feeling extremely sorry for Orasmyn. His punishment seemed quite harsh for his crime, although I'm not entirely familiar with the particulars of his religion, and he seemed truly penitent pretty much from the beginning. It just seemed unfair that he should be curse to spend his life as a lion when he was truly sorry for what he'd done wrong, and even accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing rather than trying to pass it off on the servants who were also involved. He also started trying to make amends long before the beauty came into the picture, which I think was admirable. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone else that is currently obsessed with Beauty and the Beast retellings because it adds an intriguing spin and kept me hooked until the very end. 

4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children's and YA fiction. 

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread. 

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, "Taxi!" to make the neighbors wonder. But dear dear Taxi died in 2009.

She lives outside Philadelphia. She received her BA in mathematics in 1970 and her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures in 1973, both from Harvard University, then did a postdoctoral year in Linguistics at MIT. She has since taught linguistics at Smith College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Swarthmore College. It was at UM that she earned tenure (in 1981) and became a full professor (in 1984). She has held visiting positions at the University of Queensland (Australia), the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and Capital Normal University of Beijing (China), as well as lectured at the University of Sydney (Australia), Macquarie University (Australia), the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa). In the area of linguistics she has authored five books (one of which is being translated into Korean), co-authored four (one of which is in Italian), edited one, and co-edited four (with a fifth in press), ranging from theoretical linguistics to practical matters in language structure and use, including matters of interest to d/Deaf people. She has held grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation. 

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