{Leah Reviews} Beast by Brie Spangler

Posted December 20, 2016 by Leah in Reviews / 8 Comments

{Leah Reviews} Beast by Brie Spangler


by Brie Spangler
Pages: 336
Published on October 11th 2016
by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

A witty, wise, and heart-wrenching novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan.   Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.   Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

4 Stars

I love all things Beauty and the Beast, and when I saw this was a contemporary loosely inspired by the fairy tale with a transgender character, I knew I had to read Beast.

Dylan is a book smart, wise cracking fifteen year-old, but he’s also covered in body hair and surpasses 6 feet. His best friend JP uses him as muscle. Every student at school refers to him “Beast.” His mom’s well meaning, but overbearing. After he falls off a roof and lands in the hospital, he ends up in group therapy for troubled teens and meets Jamie. Jamie is the Beauty to Dylan’s beast.

Books with male characters who have self esteem and body image issues are rare, and author Brie Spangler handled Dylan’s issues with sensitivity. I was with him when he was beating himself up over his looks, height, and self worth. I’ve been there, and many readers who have had similar issues will be able to identify with Dylan. He is much more than his looks though (everyone is): he’s smart and very, very funny. His trains of thought had me laughing out loud so many times. He’s done some bad things in his life in the name of friendship, and when he meets Jamie, they bond over each other’s “horribleness.” This was, in my opinion, the most moving part of the book. To want someone in your life, even if they’ve done some bad things and want to change, that’s compelling.

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I loved Jamie. She was snarky, artistic, and funny as well. I liked that she owns up to her “horribless” but wants to be a better person.  The fact that she’s transgender does hinder Dylan’s and Jamie’s would-be relationship (which made me mad because Dylan accuses her of not telling him, which she did in therapy, but he wasn’t listening) and puts Dylan on the defensive. Add to this, he’s looking for meanings and signs via his dead father, including a sign that his feelings for Jamie are okay. I was rolling my eyes at this. In the end, like a few other reviewers, I couldn’t really root for them as a couple. Separately, yes. But this book really did work its magic on me with its character development. I am glad it’s in the world and I am definitely reading Brie Spangler’s next book.

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8 responses to “{Leah Reviews} Beast by Brie Spangler

  1. This sounds like a pretty good book. I had a period of time where I was crazy about retellings, and couldn’t get enough of them. I haven’t read one in a little while, though. But it sounds like Spangler knows what he was doing, especially when it came to self-appearance and being shy because of it. Great review!

    • Leah

      This is very loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast and I liked that it took the idea and used it in the way it did. This is one of my favorite contemporaries of 2016 with the way Brie Spangler worked it. 🙂

  2. I haven’t heard of this one before – thanks for putting it on my radar. It sounds like a really unique story, and like one that worked. I find most books that have Transgender characters… well mostly I get the impression the character is there for plot device more than anything, but this one sounds pretty legit 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Leah

      I have noticed the trend for having transgender characters as plot devices as well, and I was afraid this would be the case with Beast. Fortunately it wasn’t. 🙂

  3. Nathan

    I like B&B books too. I have not found too many books with transgender MC or secondary characters.
    Yay for diversity.

    • Leah

      This and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo feature transgender girls that released this year. I’m always on the lookout for more books with transgender characters and am glad there are many more being published.

      YAY for diversity indeed! 😀

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