Review: Beast by Brie Spangler

By: Brie Spangler
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: Oct. 11, 2016
Genre: YA

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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?



My thoughts…

Beast was a great story. Is it a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast? I guess. I mean, if we are going by the whole don’t-judge-a-person-by-their-appearance appearance aspect of it? Then, yes. I can see the comparison. You see, we have Dylan who is a 15 year old boy that is over 6 feet tall, weighs 272lbs, and is literally covered in a thick hair from head to toe. He’s not really accepted by the kids around him and he is somewhat considered a freak. He meets Jamie at a group therapy for self-harmers and they hit it off. Jamie is this fun-loving girl who is also looked upon as being different. Not because she’s also over 6 feet tall and is covered in hair, but because she’s transgender. While a lot of people would assume going into Beast that this story is about Jamie and what it means to be transgender, you would be mistaken. The books is named BEAST for a reason and it is ultimately a story about Dylan.

I just want to say that I was not overly sure what I was getting into when I started this book. I mean, is this just a teen angst book with a transgender character thrown in for diversity reasons? I’m glad to say that this book has a lot more depth than just throwing a transgender character in the book and calling it a day. Like I said before, this is Dylan’s story and there’s a lot that goes on with him. He has a lot of self-loathing. He has to come to terms with his father’s death, he realizes that his relationship with his best friend is toxic, and he also has a bit of self discovery that’s not only sexual but spiritual as well. It’s really kind of a coming of age story for Dylan. It just so happens that the girl he falls in love with is transgender.

Now let’s talk about the characters. Dylan is not a perfect person by any means. Actually, none of them are. All the characters in this book have their flaws and that’s what makes them so real. He is kind of a bully at his school. You see, given his size and overabundance of body hair, Dylan has always been an outcast. However, he hit the friend jackpot when he became best friends with the popular kid. However, Dylan doesn’t realize that the kid is just using him to bully the other kids into giving him his money. This kid is a total loan shark and Dylan is his lackey. Dylan’s not happy with being the fists of the operation but it’s that or be exiled and have no place to fit in. So, he sticks with it. So, yeah, Dylan isn’t perfect. He also has a lot going on in his head. He’s very unhappy with his body. He hates the way he looks and the fact that even though he’s over 6 feet tall, he’s still growing. Basically, Dylan has got a lot to work on both emotionally and spiritually. However, that’s what I loved about him. He wasn’t perfect. He doesn’t do or say the right thing all the time. What 15 year old kid does? I know when I was 15 I was impulsive and pretty much had no filter. Plus, I loved that when he falls in love with Jamie and starts to question his sexuality and what this means for him, he doesn’t just go, “I’m gay!” He takes time to think about it and concludes that, “Nope, I’m straight – I’m a guy attracted to a girl.” And I absolutely loved that.

Jamie was also a great character. While the book isn’t written in her POV, we do see a lot of her throughout the book. She is kind of this happy person who seems so confident. However, as we get to know her we see some of her insecurities and it all stems from how other people react to her. She’s reserved when it comes to relationships and she’s weary of Dylan at first. Heck, even when they start dating she is drawn back a bit and you can tell she’s testing the waters. We get a bit of her backstory and I have to say I’m a bit baffled by it all. I mean, she used to pretend to be this gay boy just so that she would be accepted by the girls in her school. However, the moment she decided to be who she really was, they all pretty much turned on her. I just don’t get it. I mean, what difference does it make if she started to identify herself as a female and started wearing dresses? It didn’t change who she was as a person. I just couldn’t wrap my head around how people could just flip a switch like that and go from bff’s one minute to enemies the next based off of what they wore. I know it happens, but I just don’t get it. They’re still the same person on the inside.

Beast was a wonderfully written story about a boy going through life and finding out who he really is inside. I loved that all the characters within the pages had flaws. They all had something to work through. This would be a great book for a book club discussion because there’s just so much to talk about with this book. It’s been really hard writing this review. There’s just so much that goes on in this book that I could sit here and talk about it for hours.

Favorite quotes..

“You can rehash a million little details, every conversation, every text, but at the end of the day, shit happens. And if you don’t like the shit that happens when you’re with them, time to mosey.”

“If there’s one charming thing passed down through time, it’s that humans are all a bunch of horny nerds who can’t wait to talk about it.”



6 Thoughts on “Review: Beast by Brie Spangler

  1. Seems like a very interesting book. And yes… I am a book sniffer! HA HA!

  2. What a great review, I actually am very interested in reading Beast! I’ve had my fair share of non-committal characters these days and the stories I’ve been reading are lacking in depth, I’d be on the hunt for this one! I really love it when a book centres around insecurities and flaws, it just made the book more real. I can’t wait to meet Dylan and Jamie, they seemed like such great personas!

  3. I had my eyes on this one, just wanted to wait to see reviews. WANTTTT 😀

  4. This does seem like quite a read, Kristin. I was thinking it was a retelling but I like that it ended up being so much more. Having flawed characters, particularly in YA, is a good thing because relatable characters is what teens need. I’ll have to pick up this book. I think my teens would appreciate as well. 🙂

  5. This book sounds really good and I am glad I read your review as I felt it gave me a good feel for what the book is about it with it being Dylan his story and how there is depth to it and the transgender not just added for diversity reasons. It sounds like a very character driven book.

  6. I don’t mind fairy tale re-tellings, and Beast sounds like one I’d enjoy. I love that the characters were flawed! Glad you enjoyed this one.

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