Robin McKinley is what I like to call a "whisper writer." She sort of whispers over the details, and somehow, in this book, it really works for her. I think the fact that Beauty is the retelling of Beauty and the Beast allows her to assume that her readers have a richer foundation of back story to draw from than they would if she were creating an entirely new story with a new world. However, it worked here, and I really enjoyed the book.
Now, the reason I say I wish I'd read it in high school, is because while I am still a very trusting reader, I feel like writing my own book has kind of turned me into a bit of a skeptic. There were a few moments where I caught myself rolling my eyes and mumbling "Oh please, there's just no way!" but after a moment, I realized it was merely my disenchanted adult self speaking, and since this is a YA book, I quickly hushed her into silence so I could enjoy the read. (The fact that I just finished knit-picking over my own manuscript didn't help me relax into enjoying the ride either.)
That being said, the book was great! I really loved Beauty. She was my kind of heroine, though I did think it took her too long to realize she was in love with the Beast, because he had me at the first "Will you marry me, Beauty?" But then, I was totally digging the fact that McKinley likened the Beast to a griffin rather than some weird lion thingy as per, the Disney version of the tale. For reasons I can't quite identify yet, I've romanticized the personification of griffins. I suppose Freud could shed a little light on this, but I stopped listening to him in my feminista days.
Anyway, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you should really read the book. It's very sweet.