Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con)
“Poston’s loose adaptation of Beauty is enjoyable, moving, and easy to read, like eating a smooth, sweet bowl of ice cream.”
Ashley Poston says in the acknowledgments of her book that she created it from all of the things she loves best: Beauty and the Beast, the bad boy trope, the getting-caught-in-the-rain trope, and several others. She “wrote the book for me,” and if readers don’t love it, it’s okay, there will be something else out there to enjoy. But the thing is . . . I did love it.” Poston’s loose adaptation of Beauty is enjoyable, moving, and easy to read, like eating a smooth, sweet bowl of ice cream.
Rosie Thorne, a senior in high school, meets and falls for a masked boy at a conference ball, then goes home without even knowing his name. The experience becomes a dream, a fantasy, and she believes she will never find him.
“I took his hand, because this moment felt like a dandelion fluff on the wind—there one moment, walking the streets of Atlanta and eating Waffle House, and talking on the rooftop of one of the hotels until the sun rose and all of the cosplayers down below were stumbling their way home, the memory so visceral I can still smell the strange scent of his cologne, lavender mixed with oak, and then, well—Gone.”
Vance Reigns is a bad boy, a 17-year-old superstar, shuttled off to a small town to wait out a “punishment” for acting out. All he wants is to make it to his 18th birthday and take off, back home to Hollywood, where he can continue his life with his friends. So when a teenage girl accidentally finds him in his Hickville hideout and is consigned to help in the house’s library, he can’t imagine it will be anything but bad.
“I’m not so self-absorbed as to think that she’s staying because she wants to get close to me— I’m not stupid. The tabloids have been the opposite of kind, having all but set my career on fire. And anyone who comes near me gets the same treatment.”
But Rosie and Vance begin to talk, and discover the other isn’t quite as one-sided as they believed. Rosie is spinning from the death of her mother, while Vance is avoiding phone calls from his own. Rosie feels alive around books, Vance sees them as nothing but a waste of time. Is there a chance they could learn to be friends? And why do they each think the other is somehow familiar?
Chapters in the book alternate between Rosie and Vance, giving the reader a glimpse into each one’s mind and emotions, punctuated by pages from the book series Rosie loves so much. The writing is easy to read and enjoyable and gives a good look into each protagonist’s life. Sure, there are some coincidences that may be hard to swallow, but in the overall scope of the book they don’t matter. Poston offers a wide variety of secondary characters, including several queer people who are a part of the story without being a “message,” but simply existing naturally as people in Rosie and Vance’s lives. A nice look at our contemporary world.
This sweet, entertaining book is recommended for all who enjoy YA romance, fantasy, and science fiction. A sweet read for a summer’s day.