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Friday, March 3, 2017

"Disney Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book" by Jennifer Donnelly (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.

This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios' film, Beauty and the Beast.

FORMAT: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book is an original tale told in the world of the live action movie Beauty and the Beast. It is a children's/YA fantasy novel. It stands at 352 pages and was published January 31, 2017 by Disney Press.

ANALYSIS: I have mentioned multiple times that I absolutely adore Beauty and the Beast. It is my favorite Disney movie. A beautiful dance scene, a strong female lead who loves to read, and quirky characters were everything I could ask for and much more. For the past several months, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live action movie. In anticipation of the upcoming movie, Disney has released an original story that involves all our favorite Disney characters.

Lost in a Book has all the favorite characters from the animated film and even introduces some of the other background characters that are playing a bigger role in the live action film. The story takes place shortly after Belle walked through the West Wing and ran out of the castle only to be almost attacked by wolves and the Beast saves her. Belle is extremely lonely and desperate to connect with the Beast, but is unable to do so because he is so standoffish.

The Beast in a desperate attempt to win Belle's heart – or just be nice – shows her the library and the original tale begins. Belle discovers a mysterious book which allows her to go to a world known as Nevermore. In Nevermore, Belle befriends a countess who promises to give Belle the world and fix everything that is wrong while giving her the life she has always dreamed of.

I am torn on how to react to this novel. On one level, a very small, nostalgic part of me loved the book. Another part of me was a bit aggravated with some of the changes that were teased for the upcoming movie. And another part of me just felt that there were a lot of overused YA tropes used throughout the novel.

Lost in a Book involves jumping through a book and living in a book world. In the past year or so, this has been a theme used in many books. The books that I have read that used this type of storyline were a lot stronger and better than this novel. That isn't to say this is a bad novel or poorly written, the theme is just overused and other books did it better.

In addition to the whole traveling through a book theme, there is the whole Death vs. Love as characters theme going on. Again, this just seemed like an overused theme. It was done alright, but I would have liked to see more of an original story in the Beauty and the Beast world than a story that was a hodge podge of themes from other novels.

There are several aspects of the book that really didn't vibe with me. Belle came across as a very unreliable character. She would easily get mad at the Beast for not opening up, not being kind. Even after she knew his secrets and why he was so standoffish she still kept harping on him and wouldn't budge. However, the minute she goes into Nevermore she becomes BFFs with people she has known for a nanosecond and they barely told her stuff either. It just seemed a bit of a double standard.

Another aspect that I struggle with is who the novel is geared towards. It has some pretty dark elements to it that make it not really a younger children's book, but the writing was very juvenile at times. An example of this is the fact that for humor or comedic relief a scene almost always included someone slipping/tripping/falling and getting mud/water/bubbles on them. It just came across as humor that would be more appealing to younger children.

I did like exploring the library that Belle loved so much. That was a fun aspect of the book. The library has always intrigued me. It was also fun to visit some of the characters again and see them in a new setting, new storyline – even if it was flawed.

I also really enjoyed that it was a quick, fun read. I read the entire book in 1 day. The chapters were short and sweet. Jennifer Donnelly is a very strong writer who is amazingly talented.

Overall, I think Lost in a Book relies on people's love of all things Disney or Beauty and the Beast. It isn't an overly complex novel. It is short, sweet and fun, but it has its flaws. I wish I has loved it. I really do, but I just liked it. I highly recommend it for any fan of Disney movies or anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, but anyone who wants a truly original story will have to look elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Nice review! Thanks!


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