The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince
By Serena Valentino
Expected publication July 22, 2014 by Disney Press
You may think you know the story, but how did a handsome prince become the beast he is today? And is there any hope that he can change his fate?
So, a few years ago, I remember seeing Valentino's other Disney retelling, Fairest of Them All. Being a huge fan of retellings, it definitely caught my eye. I never got around to that one, but when I saw this newest title as a galley at ALA Midwinter, I was happy to take one home.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be going back to check out Fairest of Them All. While I liked some of the ideas in this book (most notably, that Gaston and the Beast were best friends in childhood), I had many more problems. The writing is very simplistic and boring. The book relies almost exclusively on telling and not showing what is happening. In addition, I felt like Valentino was writing down to the audience, something I find quite insulting. This is supposed to be a book for teens, but it seemed like Valentino didn't believe teens could understand anything more complex than a simple sentence. There is a lack of characterization - I never cared enough about the Beast to actually care about the curse. I thought this book was supposed to give us the Beast's perspective, make him a more sympathetic character, but it just didn't work out that way. The development of Beauty and the Beast's relationship is completely out of left field and really seems unbelievable here.
I realize that this is being published by Disney, but I still wasn't expecting it to rely solely on the Disney version of the classic fairy tale. That was definitely another let-down for me. Like I said, I'm a big fan of retellings, but this one just didn't work for me.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.