Book Review- The Belles

Thursday, 8 February 2018
Title: The Belles 
Author: Dhonielle Clayton 
Published: 08 February 2018
Pages: 448
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Series: The Belles #1

Rating: 2.5/5

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

I received a copy of this novel from Orion Publishing Group and Net Galley in return for an honest review.
Honestly I was sorely disappointed by this novel, I was really excited to get a review copy, and I couldn't wait to read it. Unfortunately it just wasn't for me.
The idea/premise of the book is a great one; certain people being able to manipulate other people's appearance and as a result manipuate their beauty. This narrative allows for some great discussions about beauty standards in society today, and exactly what makes someone beautiful. In this respect, the novel does succeed, these points are discussed in the novel, and it definitely allows the reader, who predominantly will be young adults to think about these things. 
However, the aspect of the novel which I think let it down, and led to me not enjoying it so much were the characters. In particular Camellia, the main character, who seemed to have very little personality or characteristics about her, but all the characters seemed like this. All the characters changed so much to suit what the plot needed that almost every move the characters made seemed out of character and ridiculous. I spent so much of the novel questioning whether a certain character would do X or Y that I wasn't able to enjoy the novel or take the plot seriously. Even the 'evil' characters personalities seemed so confused and unclear that I couldn't take it seriously. I don't mind when characters do things that appear out of character when it adds to our overall understanding of said character, or the reasoning becomes clear later in the novel, but this novel just read like a mess of decisions from loads of characters just to move the plot along, and further the narrative.
I am really disappointed by this because it is such an intriguing idea for a novel, and the world that the author built is well-crafted, imaginative and beautifully described in the novel. I would've loved to know more about the geography of the world, and to read about different places in the world.
Overall, I liked the idea of this novel, and the author has built an intriguing world but unfortunately the characters let the novel down.

Happy reading! 

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