*I received a copy to review through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
A promising start to a sickly sweet world. The book beckoned to me. Young Adult novels aren’t my usual fare but something about the cover and the description that made me want to look further—excellently marketed by the way because the cover and the book description do genuinely hint at the world that waits within the pages of Belles.
There are elements of the book that didn’t speak to me, it is a very slow build but Dhonielle Clayton’s storytelling fits the subject matter of her book so I felt that the choices she made in her pacing were intentional and succeeded in building a type of tension that reflected this notion of beauty under which lurks something dangerous and ugly. The main critique I have is just that it’s a book that must be recommended with the caveat, hang in there it’s worth the slow build up.
That being said, Belles is a world built beautifully on page and although at first the many food descriptions feel cloying they begin to build in your mind precisely the experience of Orleans. The reason I typically don’t read Young Adult novels is the character development from a first person perspective. Some aspects of that were present (ie, as a reader you’re getting to know everyone through the lens of the main character which has certain disadvantages) but Camellia was dimensional enough that I enjoyed aspects of character development.
The exploration of the nature of beauty and the powers to transform others is fairly deep if you’re willing to delve in. It can be enjoyed in a shallow, cursory fashion but I loved that there was far more to Belles than I’d expected.