MC's Reviews > The Belles

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
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it was ok

Based on what was served at court, everyone in this book should have diabetes. Like, everyone.

The audiobook of “The Belles” is truly a delightful experience. Narrator Rosie Jones does an amazing job infusing characters with accents and a lot of depth. I was on board for at least 20% of the book. After that? Well…

This book suffers from what a lot of YA books suffer from: endless amounts of unnecessary detail, often about the same things over and over and over again. I don’t need several chapters to remind me that the court offers a variety of pretty teacups and petite cakes. I get it, you set the scene plenty. I don’t need to be reminded – but here we are again in a chapter I felt like I already read. We also get exposition dumps from characters who provide back-stories that no one asked for. For example, in order to demonstrate that Camellia’s stoic bodyguard, Rémy, has a heart of gold, we have to suffer through a scene where a gaggle of his sisters tease and coo over him while Camellia conveniently overhears the exchange. He’s so tender!

Our main protagonist, Camellia is frustratingly incurious about the politics of the Belles (I’ll get to that in a second) unless she’s reminded by a secondary character to reconsider her and her sisters situation. She’s occasionally perturbed by events but not really enough to do anything about it. I guess I understand. If you’ve grown up with the insane-sounding “starvation box” as a form of punishment, then I suppose it’s all NBD.

The Belles is about a kingdom founded on and in service to the Goddess of Beauty and The Belles, whose magical powers allow them to bestow beauty upon its residents. But, crafting an entire political and cultural ecosystem on just beauty feels precarious. What the fuck do people actually do all day? How is the kingdom making money? Governing its people? How can their major export just be…beauty? With an entire community obsessed with just beauty (there’s a government position just for fashion, ffs), this whole concept felt unsustainable. I had to suspend the fuck out of my disbelief for a colorful world that felt weirdly empty and devoid of substance and texture.

The book slogs happily along with nothing really happening until the final 25 pages and it’s only thanks to Camellia’s quick-thinking entourage that moves the plot along. This felt like the prequel to the book I’d rather read and now that Everlasting Rose is out, I actually might give it a shot. There’s potential here, but there’s just not enough to sink my teeth into and too damn much of absolutely nothing.
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Reading Progress

February 6, 2018 – Shelved
February 6, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 7, 2019 – Started Reading
March 11, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Giselle (new)

Giselle Monique I saw this book in person and it drove me crazy how out of focus the women was on the cover. So I didn’t pick it up. I guess I’m glad I didn’t.


message 2: by MC (new) - rated it 2 stars

MC Giselle wrote: "I saw this book in person and it drove me crazy how out of focus the women was on the cover. So I didn’t pick it up. I guess I’m glad I didn’t."

Yeah, I really wish I could like it more.


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