Tuesday, 17 October 2017

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: LOST IN A BOOK - Jennifer Donnelly

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: LOST IN A BOOK - Jennifer Donnelly
Published: 2017 - Disney
Genres: Retelling / adventure / romance / fantasy / young adult
Pages: 341.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again. The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

When I first got this book, I didn't know what to think of it. I was confused; is it a retelling, or a prequel, or a sequel? Or maybe it's based on the 2017 movie?
So just to clarify, in case you're also wondering: this book is a creative imagining of events that could've happened while Belle was at the castle, without contradicting the elements of the original tale and without changing anything enough to alter the original. It's compatible with everything in the original fairytale.
And it's a truly lovely story.

Life is fragile. Life ends. But love? Love lives forever.

The language is rich and bursting with colour. The writing isn't amazing, but it's hard not to love the vivid scenes and get dreamy on the whimsical atmosphere. The story does an excellent job of preserving the magic and enchantment of the original story.
The writing is quite childish, but it works. This book definitely feels more Middle Grade than YA, but it's lovable in its child-like innocence and simplicity. The writing suits the tone. The only thing I didn't like about it, is the overuse of exclamation marks.  Those are very irritating.

The plot ranges from quieter moments to scenes bursting with energy and urgency. Sometimes its a little too slow, but then it quickens just before you start yawning. The plot's tight and well structured, and there's a real feeling of warmth, love, and magic from beginning to end. It feels like a fairytale - a lighter, brighter, very Disney-fied version.
But I don't like the dialogue. While the rest of the writing manages to work with the childish style, the dialogue comes across a bit too on-the-nose and juvenile. Not even the magical atmosphere can disguise the dialogue's weakness.

"Life can be so difficult, and stories help us escape those difficulties. It's all right to lose yourself in one, Belle."

"It's a wonderful thing to read about other people's lives, but it's important to live your own life too - no matter how challenging that life may sometimes be."

"Sometimes, Belle, our troubles are too deep for words," Lumiere said. "It's at times like those when we need our friends the most."

"Home's all the people, all the places, and all the things that you love. You carry it wherever you go."


The characters are their Disney archetypes. There's no real depth to them, but they're still sweet and innocent and lovable. I particularly love the objects - Chip, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, etc, are definitely the best written of the cast, and you really get a sense of their personalities. They overshadow Belle and the Beast, without a doubt.



Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book is a magical tale richly reminiscent of its original, and sparkling with a child-like innocence and whimsy. The writing quality isn't amazing, but it's still a heart-warming, relaxing read with lovable characters. 

4 comments:

  1. Although Beauty and the Beast is not my favourite fairy tale, I do enjoy retellings, and I am very much interested in this one. Too bad the writing didn't entirely work for you, thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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    Replies
    1. Same, actually! But yeah, retellings in general are amazing.
      Thanks for the comment!

      Delete
  2. I've heard this is a good book to read if your a big fan of Beauty and the Beast. While I like the series, I don't think I'm a fan, if you know what I mean. I don't think I'll be picking this up, not because it sounds bad, but because I'm just not interested enough. Plus, I don't like the sound of that dialogue. :)

    Great review Amy!!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I get you. I'm not a big fan of the original fairy tale either :(
      And yes, the dialogue is disappointing.

      Thanks Genni! <3

      Delete

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