This book is so crazily, beautifully, awesomely bad that it was reviewed as a birthday present for me by two different friends, without either knowing what the other had planned. It’s so awesomely bad that it comes out the other side and becomes almost good. I certainly enjoyed reading it, and frequently laughed aloud.

(Reviews by Coraa, Octopedingenue, and Rushthatspeaks.)

Remarkably, despite having read three extremely detailed reviews of it, I was still completely boggled and amused by reading the book itself, which, despite being a very short, quick read, still contained tons of WTF that none of the other reviews touched upon. All else aside, you have to read the whole thing to get the hilarious number of times that the hero reminds us that he has HOOKS FOR HANDS.

This is a YA retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which Beauty is gorgeous, perfect, loving, kind, empathic, (though not smart) teenager Aurora Belle, and the Beast is Lucius Wolfe, a bright, angry, alienated teenager who accidentally blew off both his hands while mixing up chemicals (three guesses what he was trying to make) and now has HOOKS FOR HANDS.

Before I continue, I want to note that I am not mocking actual amputees. I am mocking this author’s depiction of the angst of HOOKS FOR HANDS.

I am dubious about retellings of “Beauty and the Beast” in which beastliness is a disability. It probably could be done well, but it strikes me as a bit inherently sketchy. (My favorite retellings are the very traditional but beautifully done Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
by Robin McKinley, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Borders of Infinity,” in which the Beast is a female genetically engineered super-soldier, and Beauty is a disabled soldier who isn’t actually good-looking. (The latter is in Miles Errant (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures))

One of the things which makes this book especially fascinating is that the author has some skills, and is, at times, funny on purpose. That made me spend the entire first third wondering if the entire thing was supposed to be funny, and if everyone was misreading what was actually a brilliant comedy parodying angsty teen romance. I… don’t think so?

It’s understandable that a teenage boy who blew off his hands only a few months ago and now has HOOKS FOR HANDS would be obsessed with having HOOKS FOR HANDS. But the sheer number of times which he mentions his HOOKS FOR HANDS – generally at least once per page, and often two to ten times per page – makes it into a running joke impossible to take seriously, no matter how carefully the author drops earnest paragraphs educating us on prosthetic limbs via Aurora Belle’s sympathetic googling.

Speaking of googling, one of the accidentally hilarious running themes was the total information vacuum the characters all live in. Lucius calls Johnny Cash “Johnny Crash,” has not only never heard of the play or movie Grease but spends some time pondering the nature of a movie about “rendered animal fat,” and, in one of my favorite moments in the entire book, has to google the mysterious, arcane, exotic term "football."

Here are some actual quotes regarding HOOKS FOR HANDS.



"Lucius Wolfe," I hear the teacher call my name.

I have no hand to raise as everyone else has done, so I raise my hook.

"Present," I say from my seat in the corner of the back of the room.

I feel all eyes turn to stare at me, and I feel an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh.

I have heard characters on TV shows say, rudely, "Talk to the hand." I have not always been certain I understand what that means. But now I want to say back to all those staring eyes, "Talk to the hook," and it is all I can do to keep my mouth shut.

The more I keep my mouth shut, my dad keeps telling me, the better off I will be, the less likely to get into trouble.

So, other than the one-word "present," I don't speak at all. I merely raise my right hook to my forehead, tipping an ironic salute to the room at large.

#

I finish loading the dryer, hookload by hookload, use my hook to set the dial at seventy minutes, use my hook to depress the button.

#

And what of me and my hands? Or, I should say, lack of hands.

#

“You’d be surprised what I can do with these hooks.”

The entire book is like this.

I also like Aurora Belle’s FATHER’s comments on his daughter’s prospective boyfriend: “There’s something that’s just so raw about him, like he’s lived in a jungle none of the rest of us can know. […] That boy has spunk.”

And Aurora Belle’s remarkable familiarity with unusual parts of Lucius’s anatomy, while she’s at the school library:

…I see feet beneath the carrel that’s backed up against mine.

I know those feet.

They’re Lucius’s feet.

I won’t even get into the hilarious opening scene, the extended musing on the physical impossibility of having sex when you have HOOKS for hands, or the totally WTF “Gallowglass” thing and the completely bizarre “evil plot.” For those, see (respectively) the reviews by [personal profile] octopedingenue, [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, and [personal profile] coraa.



Oh, wait. I have to share one more quote. This is Aurora Belle explaining how soundly she has always slept: …it was like trying to diaper a dead baby.

In a weird way… I kind of recommend this book. It has more WTF per page than almost anything I’ve ever read, and I have to tip my hat to that.

Crazy Beautiful
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu


has to google the mysterious, arcane, exotic term "football."

!!

"it was like trying to diaper a dead baby"

!!!!
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


"it was like trying to diaper a dead baby"

... because we all know what that's like, admit it.

I don't even understand how that works as an analogy. Okay, when she's asleep, she's floppy and impossible to rouse, like something dead, I can follow it that far if I squint at it, but not the leap to "it was like trying to diaper a dead baby." Sleeping is like diapering a dead baby? She, when asleep, is like a dead baby which someone is trying to diaper? How much thought has this girl put into the care and feeding of dead babies anyway?
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


Okay, that makes more sense, which is still not sufficient for actual sense.

I get that "sleep like the dead" is an ancient trope, but the line still apparently relies on the ubiquity of dead-baby-diapering as a practice.

(Anyway, a dead baby would only be floppy until rigor mortis set in, AND NOW I AM THINKING ABOUT IT TOO IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.)
staranise: Text: This has been a message from your friendly neighbourhood pedant ([personal] Friendly neighbourhood pedant)

From: [personal profile] staranise


I am just ignoooooring the HOOKS FOR HANDS because I'm on a mental diet (it's called Sanity Watchers; I only get so many points of batshit in a day) to point out that the LMB version of B&tB is actually Labyrinth. I only know this because I'm on my way through a reread now, and I love it.
neery: Image of Saturn and a sun, words "Touching the stars" (Default)

From: [personal profile] neery


As much as I like Labyrinth, I feel like Winterfair Gifts is an even more traditional LMB B&tB story, featuring Taura and, uh, whatshisname, the attractive young guy in Miles' guard.

From: [personal profile] thomasyan


Is the author female? I'm wondering if that, along with inadequate research, could explain some of the oddities of the book. I mean boys could talk about masturbation soon after meeting each other (am I remembering that correctly), but it doesn't seem too likely.

Does he angst about wiping his own ass and accidentally castrating himself? Besides worry about condoms, does he have worries along the lines of "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", where in the throes of passion he accidentally punctures the woman?
inkstone: Luffy from One Piece: Strong World blinking (omgwhut)

From: [personal profile] inkstone


…it was like trying to diaper a dead baby.

............................
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

Hooks in literature


In some cases, Grand's theatre had to have two copies of the film on hand, because his alterations were so flagrant that he did not deem it wise to project the altered copy twice in succession. This was the case with a popular film called The Best Years of Our Lives. This film was mainly concerned, in its attempt at an odd kind of realism, with a young veteran of war, who was an amputee and had metal hooks instead of hands. It was a story told quite seriously and one which depended for much of its drama upon a straight-faced identification with the amputee's situation and attitude. Grand's insert occurred in the middle of the film's big scene. This original scene was a seven-second pan of the two principal characters, the amputee and his pretty home-town fiancée while they were sitting on the family porch swing one summer evening. The hero was courting her, in his quiet way---and this consisted of a brave smile, more or less in apology, it would seem, for having the metal hooks instead of hands---while the young girl's eyes shone with tolerance and understanding...a scene which was interrupted by Grand's insert: a cut to below the girl's waist where the hooks were seen to hover for an instant and then disappear, grappling urgently beneath her skirt. The duration of this was less than one-half second, but was unmistakably seen by anyone not on the brink of sleep.

Terry Southern, The Magic Christian (1959)
movingfinger: (Default)

From: [personal profile] movingfinger

Re: Hooks in literature


In my opinion, which is doubtless shaded by having seen the movie first, the movie is better and funnier. Terry Southern was less a novelist than a film writer, and the contributions of other hands than his to the film enrich it greatly; the book, by comparison, is a series of vignettes without arc or climax, oddly monotonous. There are good bits, but they don't hang together, and the movie makes more out of the ideas it takes from the book than the book does.

Also, Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr!

From: [personal profile] thomasyan

Re: Hooks in literature


And Christopher Lee? Netflix says the average rating is 3.0 but predicts my rating would be 2.3. I wonder how accurate that is...if only this were available via streaming!

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


I wonder how many dead babies Aurora Belle has diapered?

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com


I found that it was both better than I expected and worse at the same time. I also thought it wasn't that she was a bad writer, it was more like she got lost in the concept somehow. Also i still think they're the pincer hooks, not the Capt. Hook hooks.

HOOKS FOR HANDS.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


They're clearly pincers, but because everyone calls them hooks, I kept picturing Captain Hook hooks.

From: [identity profile] jennifergale.livejournal.com


generally at least once per page, and often two to ten times per page

Holy...frequency.

From: [identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com


This is Aurora Belle explaining how soundly she has always slept: …it was like trying to diaper a dead baby.

I need an icon of absolute bogglement.

From: [identity profile] seiberwing.livejournal.com


the extended musing on the physical impossibility of having sex when you have HOOKS for hand

Couldn't you just...take the hooks off?
.

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