The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this book on a whim. I had heard good things about it but I’ll be honest I mostly fell in love with the cover. I didn’t read it right away but once I started I basically devoured it. I love speculative fiction or anything that asks the question “what if?’ I also have a soft spot for fiction that deals with women’s issues and social injustice in general. The Belles didn’t disappoint.
The world depicted in this book is not as different from ours as it first appears. Within its pages we watch the powerplays of those in charge and the ones who want to be. We see the darker, decaying underbelly of society hiding behind beautiful colors and fine fabrics, secrets lurking beneath flower-scented clothes and a deceptive sense of joy and contentment.
Yes, some things were predictable, some didn’t quite made as much sense as I’d hoped they would, but I really enjoyed reading it and I’m looking forward to reading book 2 and I hope it was as gripping as the first.
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The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
I just finished reading the Red Queen, a YA fantasy novel by Victoria Aveyard. Once in a while you are fortunate enough to read a book you just can’t put down. This was one of them. I found myself sneaking a few pages at breakfast before heading to work, during lunch, even after work when I really should be writing. I found myself staying up way past my bed time to read one or two more chapters. I yelled at the book when something I suspected really did come to pass. I slammed the book shut a few times when things got very dark for the main characters. I was exhausted by the time I finished reading it and that’s the beauty of it. A good book leaves you tired, happy or sad, craving for more. Needless to say I am buying the next book in the series and I don’t care how much it will cost me.
The characters were memorable. Mare, the young woman who was so much more than even she realized. Cal whose heart pulled one way while his loyalty pulled the other. And all the other characters so human in spite of their “gifts”, flawed and three-dimensional.
The speculative world the author created is reminiscent of the often repeated mistakes of human politics, of the erroneous and dangerous idea that one race can be superior to others and that there is an almost divine purpose for the division of powers.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes speculative fiction and craves rich and believable characters with complex personalities. If you, like me, like a little romance in everything you read this is also the book for you. The love triangle (or is it really a square?) in Red Queen is far from your usual boy-loves-girl-but-girl-loves-another-boy situation. Nothing is simple or obvious in this fantastic novel. Do yourself a favor and read it!