Monday, March 19, 2018

REVIEW: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton - 4 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
Title: The Belles
Genre: YA Fantasy
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication: February 6th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided Hardback

First Impressions:
A very candy coated version of The Hunger Games. And I mean that in a literal way. The author used a lot of imagery with describing things and almost every description was something sweet; vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, etc. The book makes me think of Willy Wonka writing a dystopian/fantasy novel. 

Examples:
"All the people seem beautiful, with skin of various colors, from fresh cream to a drizzle of honey to a square of chocolate;"

"She's all freckled, and reminds me of a caramel drop cookie."

Review:
The Belles is the story of Camillia and her rise to fame as the Favorite in a world that values beauty over everything. Belles are the only ones born with true beauty because of some transgression of a Goddess. They aren't just born beautiful, though. Belles can mold a person and change their hair, skin color, body shape, etc. And this is why they are highly coveted and why the kingdom must always have a Favorite to serve the royal family.

Camillia is a very fun character. She is beautiful and can mold people into whatever they want to be but she still finds beauty in people before she remakes them. She always tries to tell people that they have true beauty but no one ever believes her. They just say she is lying and demand that work be done. She always tries to do things outside of the limits and that gets her in trouble. It also gets her chosen as second place, not Favorite.

When we got to the part of the book where the Favorite is chosen and it wasn't Camillia I was a bit confused and it made me wonder where this book could go after that. All books like this, fantasy with a strong female lead, make it so the main character has to be THE ONE. it's just how it is. Even fantasy books with male characters are like that. The books are always about THE ONE. No one writes books about the companion/second to THE ONE. Until now...

I like books that make me think. And, although this book was excruciatingly sugar-coated, this story made me think. A lot. I was always guessing what nefarious thing was being woven in the background. There were so many things that seemed devious. Like when Camillia was first at the tea house when she heard the screams and cries and witnessed what she did. That was the first clue. Then things with the Princess and Queen. It was rather great not knowing who could be trusted. Not knowing what was going to happen next.

I really adored the fact that ALL skin colors were expressed and wanted in this book. I found the fact that when color is completely taken away from people they would do anything to have it back no matter the tone to be completely inspiring. No one was judged over their skin tone whether they were green, yellow, white or brown.

In the end, I still firmly believe that Willy Wonka had some part in the writing of this book but my first impression that the book was like The Hunger Games was slightly wrong. This book is a fantasy but it's a fantasy world with a dystopian feel to it. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series because the ending was NOT candy-coated.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.



LITTLE SPOILER! 
Another thing I would like to point out is I was spoiled, kind of, by someone telling me the only LGBTQ+ character dies in this book. The person was appalled that the author would do that and I would like to say that contrary to popular belief, us LGBTQ+ people aren't immortal. Lord knows I would love to be because my TBR pile is never going to be done. But I find it rather childish and unrealistic for people to get upset because a diverse character was killed off. They weren't killed because of their diversity. They just caught a little bit of death. Get. Over. It. Also, if you paid attention while reading the book you would have known the Queen was LGBTQ+ as well, so the character that died wasn't the only LGBTQ+ rep. 

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