Sleeping Beauty with a twist

I’ve always liked reading fairy tales when I was a little kid. Even now that I am no longer one, I still enjoy reading fairy tale retellings of contemporary authors. Case in point, the much acclaimed Wicked by Gregory Maguire, about Elphaba, the resident villainess in the Wizard of Oz.

This was the reason I was drawn to “A Kiss in Time,” by “Beastly” author Alex Flynn. While Beastly (now a major motion picture starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens) is the modern version of Beauty and the Beast, AKIT is the updated version of Sleeping Beauty, featuring lead characters Princess Thalia of Euphrasia, a country concealed by a spell for 300 years and Jack, a 17 year old slacker who stumbles upon the kingdom and awakens the sleeping princess (299 years his senior).

The basic premise of the story is still the same, even if the author made some tweaks of her own. Instead of having a prince breaking the spell, the lead guy is a rebellious teenager who snuck out of a boring tour of Europe to piss off his seemingly neglectful parents. And instead of fairies taking care of Talia to hide her away from the witch who cursed her to succumb to a spindle, the princess in this story is guarded 24/7 in the castle, a prisoner in her own home, resentful of the overprotectiveness of her parents.

The approach Flinn has taken to tell the story was pretty straightforward, alternately using first person narrations from Talia and Jack, giving the readers a chance to see things from different perspectives. Actually, while reading the book, I couldn’t help but feel like I’m reading the script of the Disney Princess movie, so it was pretty generic in that sense. No spoilers needed because happily ever after is a given in this kind of tale.

What I liked about the book was that it was a no brainer. You read it for fun. The writing in itself was very entertaining and at times, spot on, especially during the parts when Talia and Jack discussed problems about their families. However, there were times when the dialogue seemed repetitive and boring. Instead of getting excited for their next date, I found myself frustrated at listening to the same conversation again and again.

Actually, what I like best about fairy tales are the love stories. While there were several chapters devoted into developing the relationship between the two characters, I still felt like it was lacking. I felt that Talia’s character was better during the beginning of the book when she had dimensions to her character, rather than when she stayed in America with Jack where suddenly, she became mature, nice and diplomatic all the time, leaving no trace of her fickle or mischievous nature. At the start, Thalia was presented as a conceited and overconfident princess, but wily and resourceful when it comes to getting her way. I would have liked for her to show more spunk in dealing with with the mean girls of the story — Amber and Jennifer.

I liked the fact that Malvolia the witch was given a backstory. After reading Wicked, I found myself liking villains more and more, and I’m glad she had her happily ever after too, but the final challenge given to Jack to test his love, I felt was kind of forced and over the top. I suppose injecting a villain in the role of game show host for Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and Trivial Pursuit would be cute to some but I for one, didn’t get it. For me, it was awkward and served only to unnecessarily prolong the story for a couple more pages.

All in all, the book was a bit long at over 300 pages. I felt like some segments could have been shortened and some scenes could have been eliminated totally. However, it is still an okay read, especially for young adults.