Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: The Belles

Title: The Belles (The Belles #1)
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Gifted
Format: ARC

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever (goodreads).

The Belles was addicting, beautiful, and mysterious. 
Plot: Dhonielle Clayton is a beautiful writer, this is something I learned from reading the first page of The Belles. While this book may intimidate some readers with 500 pages, I found it very easy to get through because I desperately wanted to learn more about Camellia's world and the fate of the royal family. If you're a fan of betrayal, court intrigue, and conspiracies, you'll be glued to this book as Camellia navigates court life. One aspect of The Belles that I thoroughly enjoyed was the idea of beauty. In this world, only the Belles were born with beauty and color; the others were Gris (grey) and had to set appointments (at crazy prices) to add color, texture, and the newest trends to their person. It was a fascinating look at how the people were with the idea of beauty and what lengths they would go to become something they weren't. 

Characters: Camellia was a character that I rooted for and desperately wanted to mature. She was arrogant and selfish, but I was also enchanted by her. I loved her because she was complex and had to learn a lot of hard lessons on her own. 

The villain was someone I couldn't get enough of either. She was manic and just plain evil. I wanted to know what she would do next, and at the same time, I was afraid to see what torture she would cook up. I can't wait to see how Camellia and gang face her in book 2. 

Now the question we're all asking ourselves: what about the romance? I would qualify situation in The Belles as a love triangle since there were two young suitors Camellia could choose from. I'm leaving hope that this is explored more in book 2 (because my ship is sinking quickly), but it seemed as though Camellia made her choice by the end of book 1. 

Worldbuilding: Clayton stated that she was inspired by Marie Antoinette's court as well as geisha culture, and that is evident from the world of The Belles. I loved the opulence and the obsession with flamboyant beauty and the unique products that helped the Gris have "quick fixes" to beauty. 

While I loved the atmosphere of this world, there were opportunities for worldbuilding that were missed. While reading The Belles, I got the feeling that I was "very close up" in the world. Clayton dropped the reader in the world with very little explanation of the geography or how any of the technology worked. I would have felt more at home in this world if an overview of the world was provided. 

Short N Sweet: The Belles held my attention from start to finish and I can't wait until we are blessed with more of this story. 

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