FCT: The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton

First Chapter Thoughts for...

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

“Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, 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 Orleans 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 Orleans 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.” 

Dhonielle was a participant in a now infamous Christmas Eve article in the New York Times. But her interview, and her career, were greatly diminished. And she spoke so intelligently, even while righteously upset, that I had to reevaluate my stance on Young-Adult. I’ve decided not to read YA for a while, and then binge-read a Leigh Bardugo book and realized that I’ve confronted some of my own problems with the genre. (Link goes to a video by Francina Simone titled 'Harmful Books.')

Note that I’m not saying problems with YA, but these are my own insecurities.

First, was that I don’t love the Love Interest (LI). As long as the central relationship in a romance (or any type of relationship) can float, I ship it, I believe it, I don’t need to be involved in it.

Second, is that there’s a lot of silliness and potential that reminds me of my own mis-steps in my teen years even though I wasn’t fighting dragons or saving the world.

These things were on me, so I decided that FCT is the perfect way to assess if I will enjoy a YA book.

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And frankly? Dhonielle is an amazing writer. I got chills reading the two-chapter preview, and am totally surprised by how into it I am. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a world obsessed by beauty, but like most things— it's more than skin deep. After being in the world a little I understood the machinations of the magic-system. (Arcana? Goddesses? Gris? Uhm, I can’t wait to read it!) And even reading some of the interview (the EW website was glitchy for me— so rude) I understood more of the motivation behind the story and saw the inspirations. I’m so delighted.

Gah, and 'the revolution is here' as the tagline gives me a shiver as well.

Status: Pre-ordered!

Verdict: Uh, duh.

Pages: 448
Year: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion