Beast Brie Spangler

by Brie Spangler

published October 11th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
young adult | contemporary | lgbt

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Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?


I’ve kind of been looking forward to reading this since I saw its gorgeous cover sometime last year, so I was incredibly stoked when it showed up on my doorstep (thank you, Penguin)! I mean, heck, it’s about a not-drop-dead-gorgeous teenage boy who falls for a transgender. If you know me, you’d know I’m totally in.

Unfortunately, I found the book somewhat difficult to appreciate. I got the vibe that the author was really going for authenticity in her characters, but instead ended up turning her main man into a douche with trivial issues and a horrid personality. I can’t really say I’d be better at coughing up a decent 15 year old boy while keeping him realistic, but Dylan was really just an ass. Okay, he was an ass for me. You be the judge:

  • He pretty much sees any pretty girl as a toy he wants to mess around with, and yes he’s a teenager, but come on this is kind of pushing it. At one point he thinks dirty thoughts about a 12 year old, even labelling himself as a “pedophile” because of it.
  • He was too concerned with his outward appearance, which we can all relate to, but he somehow used it as a free pass to diss everyone and to throw their feelings in the garbage.
  • He was disrespectful to his mom, who always only wanted what was best for him.

Jamie felt like a John Green-formula character to me. She was nice, sweet, and did that occasional bad influence thing for some thrill. What was sad, really, was how her being a trans girl wasn’t given enough attention. Her gender may have caused many turning points in the book, we weren’t really told of the hows, the whys, the whats. It was a wasted opportunity to raise more awareness, I’d say.

Their relationship wasn’t one I’d support, either. Dylan was kind of toxic and Jamie deserved so much better. Their romance also progressed way too fast for my liking. Definitely a YA full of insta-attraction, insta-love and insta-everything-in-between. (Okay, if I read this thing right I’m pretty sure it spanned a couple of months, but there was definitely an insta-something.)

The humor was pretty much lost on me as well. There was just something so young about it that even as a teen myself, I couldn’t find myself getting invested in it. Or maybe I’m just cold hearted. Other than that, the writing was pretty conversational and generally easy to read, though.

Despite not liking this one myself, I saw elements in it that I think the general public would enjoy. I’d still recommend this book to fans of John Green and perhaps even Rainbow Rowell.


I thought the hero was kind of a douche and the heroine definitely deserved better. The romance was a bit too rushed and the humor felt slightly forced. The writing was pretty decent, but that’s pretty much all I can approve of.



5 thoughts on “Review: Beast by Brie Spangler

  1. I dunno, I think Jamie being trans shouldn’t the the only thing showcased about her, you know? Like, when we have a gay character they don’t spend half the book showing that they’re gay, they just are. Is the book narrated by Jamie, too? This book sounded like it would be a hit but I’ve read several negative reviews already. What a shame, it would’ve been a great book. Awesome review as always.


  2. Aimee! Welcome back btw! So good to have you back in the book world again. :D

    I’ve seen a number of negative reviews for this book, and it sucks that a diverse book with such promise had so many toxic/problematic elements. I’ll be avoiding it, thanks for taking one for the team!


  3. I agree with your whole review, I was excited for this book but it didn’t live up to my expectations. Dylan bothered me the most because of the reasons you mentioned :( maybe my hopes were too high


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