Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

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Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Heather Butterworth
Reviewed by Heather Butterworth
Summary: A fantastic, modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast which will have you swooning!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1683692126

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I'm not a heroine in a rom-com, and guys like that don't fall for girls like me

Bookish and the Beast is the third instalment of Ashley Poston's 'Once Upon a Con' series which is set in the Starfield universe.

Set after the ExcelsiCon, we are introduced to Rosie Thorne, a Small Town, USA girl who has recently lost her mother and is entering her final year of high school. Things keep piling up for Rosie, and when she follows a stray dog into what she thinks is an abandoned castle in her town, things just get worse. Rosie accidentally destroys a rare book and with her mother's hospital and funeral costs she has no money to cover the damage. She finds herself working for Vance Reigns, Hollywood royalty on a paparazzi escape, to repay the debt.

For most Starfield superfans this would be a dream but Rosie soon realises Vance is a jerk - and he isn't too fond of her either. However, as the two are forced to get to know each other, their guards begin to lower and they discover that maybe this situation might not be so terrible after all.

Bookish and the Beast is a warm, modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. As a massive Beauty and the Beast fan I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had read the first two instalments of this series and loved them so I was looking forward to seeing where this one led me. One thing I love about Poston's writing is her characterisation at it was the same for Bookish and the Beast the characters seems to jump off the page and have layers that you can pick away at as he story develops. Rosie is dealing with grief in this novel yet it doesn't define her. She is soft and stubborn and became a perfect Belle replacement. I related to her a lot and I think many other bookish people will too. Vance was definitely my favourite character and I think his development is fantastic. I loved that he was a 'self-destructive' bad boy as apposed to the troubled past type. It showed that sometimes people just behave poorly without needing justification. He also felt real and authentic. His spirals and struggles with his mental health made him a normal, relatable human and highlighted to the reader that celebrities are real people with real feelings - something we often tend to forget in modern society. Poston also provided us with some fantastic secondary characters which were just as interesting and compelling as the central two. I even enjoyed the Gaston-esque character that played a perfect villain role.

Bookish and the Beast is a diverse and inclusive book. It includes LGBTQ characters naturally and doesn't feel forced and it was one of the first novels I've read that included a non-unary character which was refreshing . It has characters from divergent races and cultures - although I think these characters could have been developed more. I really liked Poston's depiction of feminist issues and recognised Rosie's discomfort in overtly sexual advances from males; this is something women have to tackle on a regular basis and it can lead to some very uncomfortable and hostile situations. These themes and issues are depicted really well and are appropriate for a YA audience.

Ashley Poston's writing is really relaxed and fluid which makes some complex issues really easy to digest. I gorged this book in one sitting and it didn't feel to intense or heavy but instead left me feeling a little warm and mushy. Knowing the basic plot I was worried I may have got a little bored but Poston's writing and characterisation made it feel like I was hearing the story for the first time. I found this was aided by the multitude of fandom references that were packed into the novel - there are loads! As a fangirl myself, I absolutely loved this and found myself excited every time I stumbled upon one. However, if you're not into your fandoms then you may find this a little reference heavy.

I'm not instantly drawn to romance novels but I am a sucker for a hate-to-love relationship and this one was no different. I loved Rosie and Vance's relationship and think they made a lovely couple once they stopped bickering. I did struggle a little bit with the development of this though as it felt a little rushed and essential parts of the relationship development were missed out and just referred to. I'd have loved to have seen their feelings for each other progress a little more naturally so I could have savoured it. I also think it would add to the authenticity of their romance too.

Overall, I think this lovely, little novel will be a great addition to the YA romcom genre. It deals with a lot of issues that a lot of young people will relate to while till being a soft, easy read.

For further reading I would suggest A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer and Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly.

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