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.

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. )

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

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