Daydream Sanctuary Features

Monday, March 7, 2011

Belle (Retelling of "Beaty & the Beast"): Too Much of "Beauty", Not Much of "Beast"

Once Upon a Time Series:
Belle - A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast"
By Cameron Dokey
Belle: My name means Beauty.... but I don't have The Beauty like my sisters do. I don't deserve my name.
Belle's Mother: *sigh* My daughter, Belle, has become unlady-like. She's spending so much time in wood carving.
Belle's Father: And pretty good at that too. *winks at Belle* She can see the heart of the wood when she touches it. I managed to get hold of a branch of the Heartwood Tree, which is an enchanted tree she's very curious about.
Beast: But no one should take anything from the Heartwood Tree. Whether you were lying or not old man, you must bring the one who could see the heart of the tree to me.
Belle's Father: What have I done.....
Belle: It's alright, Papa. I will do what the Beast wants for you.
RATING: C (AVERAGE!)
FAVORITISM: 2 Hearts ---> DISLIKE (3 Hearts to Dominic x April)

Honestly, the main reason why I picked this up because I find fairy tale adaptations absolutely irresistible, hehe.

"Belle" isn't a bad novel if you want to know the story of this popular tale with less tragedy and in a different perspective; just don't expect a romantic fairy tale... since it's more of a growing up story with a nice family theme. Moreover, you can only expect Beauty's story in this, not Beauty's and the Beast's.

It was my biggest problem with the novel: there's too much Belle. The Beast didn't have much of a role in the story, even if he's supposedly another significant main character in the original.

Fine, it's a retelling.... and its in the title as well that this is going to be more on Belle's perspective. Majority of the novel is just about Belle's life before she met the Beast. She spent quite a number of chapters just going emo on how much she shouldn't possess such a name, and on how unnoticeable she is compare to her super pretty sisters. I wanted her to shut up so much. I'm not the only one.

No thanks to that, the moments between the Beauty and the Beast were squeezed only in several chapters. The book took its time on the first half then when the main plot started, everything had been rushed. Thus, it lacked on relationship development.

The typical love at first sight felt more convincing than the romance here. I fail to see any sign of Belle very romantically attracted to him. It only felt that Belle was just forced to fall in love with the Beast plainly because it's her role in the story. Someone even needed to tell her directly that she likes him (Though her "like" was more out of pity, regret, gratitude, and the like).

"True love" my a$$. Its concept of true love is that there should be two parties involved... when it actuality, true love can be one-sided because it doesn't expect anything in return. Meh, there hadn't really been romantic love between the main characters in the first place. It's just sympathy, kindness, and obligation.

Its initial topic/theme had been all about Beauty..... then all of a sudden, in its rush end, it started talking about True Love. There's no problem in having more than one theme, but at least don't forget about the previous one. So has Belle finally realized her beauty in the end?

Ugh, my other major complain would be related to the Beast, His story was just too rushed.... and there had been no physical description on what made him monstrous because he hides his face most of the time. Yeah, even when Belle had managed to look at him in the eye, we still got no description on his hideous physical features. Oh come on, the height and his voice and roars isn't convincing enough to make him terrifying. He was generally harmless throughout the novel.

This novel is too light and positive. There isn't much danger... the Beast wouldn't even hurt a fly! None of the characters had been as bad as they seemed, if they were not very nice initially. No events had been too horrible and every one of them turned out okay in the end. The biggest negative emotion it can make its reader do is to make them sad.

Well, it's not that it's a bad thing... but having a Beast as a character should've managed to make some terrifying and intense scenes, you know. The Beast was just props for the sake of having a story to end Belle's life drama.... and to have someone to spoil her.

*yawns* This was freakin' boring. The original was gazillion times more exciting and interesting than this one. The enchantments and the Beast weren't just things in the background. A Belle who doesn't give a damn about looks is a more convincing individual to be capable of true love than the Belle in this story.

On the bright side, this retelling did a good job on the character development of Belle and her family. I'm also pleased that there's no cliche of Belle having evil sisters... the sisters here hadn't been materialistic nor cruel. They're even more likable than Belle.

The love story of Belle's second sister is even more romantic compare to Belle's love story.... which didn't have much romance at all (as I've mentioned earlier). I like it that April didn't think of killing herself on the possibility of Dominic being dead.... nor did she do exaggerated reactions when she heard the good news. They may not have had exchange of romantic lines nor have we read much of their love story, but their simple moments and actions had been enough to see how much they've fallen in love with each other.

Pfft! The story of the lovers in the Heartwood Tree's legend is even more romantic than Belle's romance. The household decorations of lovers in the Beast's house is even more romantic than Belle's story. Even if it was Belle who got a kissing scene, things were too quick and didn't make any sense... it didn't feel romantic at all.

Oh it annoys me when the romance between side characters are much better and more romantic than the main couple. It shows so much that the love story in this novel is.... FAIL! I am relieved that I'm not alone in this.

This retelling got me annoyed and bored most of the time.... I can't make myself like this but I do admit that it's not a bad story. But still, it could've been better. I think retellings should be as good as or are very different or are better than the original.... not those that made me yawn and tempt to throw the book away (Belle had been whining too much on the early chapters that almost make me want to throw it at the pool *in a resort while reading it*) There's so much you can twist and change on the original tale to make it even more interesting... but I guess I'm not the target audience for this writer.

Or perhaps this is just not my cup of tea? It has been too light-hearted for my tastes; it's not that exciting. It really got me disappointed on its lack of attention on the Beast.... nor on its details about the magic in it (how come the Beast has magic as well?). I don't agree with its concept of true love.... and its romance really sucks. Ugh. I had been okay on everything except on the significant themes of what the original was mainly about.
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