Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Beast

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
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's review
Jul 02, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, fantasy, library, young-adult
Read from July 02 to 07, 2011

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.

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Reading Progress

07/02/2011 "listening to audiobook. On disc 2."
100.0% "Finished this up today! Review coming soon."

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