Not Your Grandmother’s Fairy Tale – The Works of Alex Finn

During my recent trip to the beautiful, rather majestic Skyline Drive here in Virginia, I picked up Alex Finn’s Beastly and A Kiss in Time. Finn’s works are part of a growing trend of modernizing classic fairy tales. Beastly revamps Beauty and the Beast while A Kiss in Time is a new take on my personal favorite fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. Two modernizations – one that completely devoured me, and one that left me dozing off.

BeastlyI am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly. (Official Blurb).

and wait…there’s a movie?

The Lowdown: Beastly is a great summer read. I have always been a fan of the Beauty and the Beast narrative, and Beastly expands on it in ways I think modern readers can really get behind. Our narrator, Adrian, is one nasty brat at the start of the novel, and seeing him change is probably the best part of the narrative. This is partially because he changes before he meets/ er slightly kidnaps the girl. He changes for himself. Yes, the novel is about the power of love, but also how you can’t truly love until you love yourself. While this sounds corny, I am really happy more and more YA books as of late are speaking on this theme. The book is pretty chaste when it comes down to it, and the ending is a little too and they lived happily ever after, but I guess it is a fairy tale.

The movie was supposed to come out this July, but for reasons unbeknownst to me it has been moved to next March. There are some glaring differences between the book and the movie presented in the clip above (why change the main character’s name?), and I question the casting of Vanessa Hudgens, but it’s still a film I am highly anticipating.

A Kiss in Time: Talia fell under a spell…

Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.
I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

The Lowdown: I wanted to love this. I so enjoyed Beastly that I had high expectations for A Kiss in Time. Sleeping Beauty is my all time favorite fairy tale. There were parts of A Kiss in Time that really worked for me. There is a section about body image that felt right on, and I really dug it. But otherwise the morality of the story felt a little too in my face. Not to mention that both of the characters felt super annoying at one time or another. I felt the story didn’t know what it wanted to be. Did it want to be dark like Beastly or lighthearted fun. For the most part A Kiss in Time felt a little like the 80’s movie Mannequin, but every once in a while it veered into the dark world of teenage life–complete with a girl being fed drinks and almost taken advantage of.

Conclusion: I can get behind this new trend of modernizing classics. The original narratives, despite Disney’s production of them, were pretty dark and twisted themselves. But I think it’s a tricky act to pull off. Finn’s works represent how brilliant a rendition can be, as well as how disappointing. I also think these would be great to use in the classroom to study plot elements.

For the comments sections: what modernized fairy tales have you read recently? Are there any fairy tales you want to see modernized?

One thought on “Not Your Grandmother’s Fairy Tale – The Works of Alex Finn

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  1. I just had a summer school student who modernized Thumblina. I read the original, which I had never done, and found a truly weird tale. This student used the original to write a commentary on the foster care system, and it was pretty incredible.

    I think that there’s lots of room to update these old tales!

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