July 11th, 2011


#49 Beast by Donna Jo Napoli

Orasmyn is a scholarly Persian prince living a privileged lifestyle. When he makes an honest mistake involving an important ritual, he is cursed into the body of a lion. Orasmyn struggles between his gentle nature and his new bestial urges, and runs away from home. Lonely and desperate for companionship, he eventually finds himself traveling towards France, where hopefully the love of a woman can break his terrible curse.

Beast is a short and sweet retelling of the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" told from the Beast's perspective. The emphasis on Beast's Persian background and Islamic beliefs, gives this retelling a unique flavor . I was a little nervous going into this book, as I had recently read another book by Donna Jo Napoli (Bound), that I felt decidedly mixed about. I was happy to discover that many issues I had with Bound were not present in Beast. Orasmyn is a very interesting character, and much easier to understand. I liked that the fairy tale elements played a larger role. The entire second half of this book deal's with the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" (beginning with Belle's father coming upon Beast's castle), while the "Cinderella" elements felt tacked on at the end of Bound.

I enjoy books that focus on religious identity, so I was happy with the elements that explore Orasmyn's faith. I also enjoyed reading about his struggle between his human and beast sides. The romance between Orasmyn and Belle was a little different than I expected. Although there is obvious tension between the two characters, the book seems more focused on crafting a more cerebral/spiritual bond between the two, than one of romantic devotion. The result is the romance is not as engaging than other interpretations, but it is still worth reading. I did experience Beast as an audiobook, which I am regretting a little. The narrator, Robert Ramirez, lacked the versatility that I have found with other voice actors on audiobooks. There wasn't really that much variety in his voices and I don't feel as if got Orasmyn's emotions across that well. At the same time, he did have a pleasant voice and read very clearly, so I don't feel as if he necessarily did a bad job.

Beast is worth while interpretation of the fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast." I enjoyed how Donna Jo Napoli put her own unique stamp on this memorable tale.

Rating: four stars
Length: the print version is 272 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Other books I've read by this author: Sirena, Bound

Next I will be reviewing Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

xposted to temporaryworlds , bookish , and goodreads
  • crimes

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

What it's about:
The classic, startling, and perennially bestselling portrait of human nature, a tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own natures.

My Thoughts:
I had never read this book before and I know almost everyone else in the world has. I didn't want to feel like I was missing out on a great book so I decided to pick it up. I was hoping for a really good epic "Lost on an Island" novel. However I hate to say it but..I couldn't stand this book. Now I admit that I didn't know much about this book before hand so maybe it was my fault but it just wasn't good in my opinion. The writing was confusing and way too "jumpy", I couldn't keep up with the characters and half the time I forgot who was who (probably because I just didn't care enough) and to top it all off, I felt that it was the same plot points repeated about ten times to make up the book. So yeah, I didn't like it and I don't really recommend it.

I am interested in hearing other people's thoughts on it though and why you feel the way you do about it.
Number of Pages: 202
Stars: 1

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Ragnarok, American style.

American Gods

William Morrow, 2001, 480 pages

Publisher's Description:

Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming -- a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.

One of the most talked-about books of the new millennium, American Gods is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an American landscape at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. It is, quite simply, a contemporary masterpiece.

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Verdict: I was expecting/hoping to love it, but I merely liked it; American Gods failed to recapture the epic sense of wonder of Gaiman's Sandman, and I wanted to kick the protagonist hard. Nonetheless, this treatment of gods in a contemporary American setting has flashes of brilliance, a few funny bits (also some skeevy bits) and a page-turning quality that made me glad I read it, but not hankering for a sequel as I would have had it lived up to expectations. Recommended for Gaiman fans and mythology buffs, and given all the accolades this book has received, my criticisms are probably very much of the YMMV variety.

Also by Neil Gaiman: My review of The Dream Hunters.