Beast is one of those rare books that was an excellent read when it was written, and has barely dated in the ten years since. Stephen is an incredibly sympathetic character to relate to, and I find him unusual in that although he is essentially painted as a "bad apple" by his social worker, his foster family, and pretty much everyone else - he is in fact a very responsible young adult who is trying to make his way with some incredibly heavy emotional baggage and secrets. Most teenagers struggle day-to-day because being a teenager is horrible - you are caught between being treated like a child and being expected to make grown up decisions, you are expected to make decisions about your future when you are struggling to decide who you are as a person, and you are also dealing with all the physiological changes that come on the back of hormonal and brain chemistry changes. Stephen is not perfect, but he is the perfect character to experience this story through.
Rather unusually, Kennen has chosen not to pull a lot of punches with her story - even though it is a relatively short novel to contain all emotional baggage and social commentary it does. In many ways this is the novel I would have craved as a teenager, hard hitting and honest about what life can be like if you don't live in a white picket fence world with both your parents. While this story is based in the United Kingdom, it could just as easily be a story set in other parts of the world - foster children are kicked to the curb when they "age out" all over the world, expected to fend for themselves when most children are still protected and supported by their parents. Kennen is a hard hitting author who gave me several enjoyable hours as I sank back into the story of Stephen and his monster.
A great read if you like books for teenagers about what life is really like for teenagers - rather than something light and fluffy.
If you like this book then try:
- Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
- Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy
- Furious Jones and the assassin's secret by Tim Kehoe
- Girl, missing by Sophie McKenzie
- Nickel plated by Aric Davis
- Forbidden island by Malcolm Rose
- Burning blue by Paul Griffin
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
- Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
- Dead to you by Lisa McMann
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Hate list by Jennifer Brown
- Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott
- I swear by Lane Davis
- Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
- The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Reviewed by Brilla