by Jen Calonita
Amazon | Goodreads
Published April 10th 2012 by Poppy
PLEASE NOTE: This is a DNF (did not finish) review. That means I did not finish this book. If reviews of half-finished books bother you, please look elsewhere. For the rest of you, I am going to try to explain why I didn't feel the need to finish this.
Alright, I feel like this can be pretty brief, actually. There are times when I put something on the DNF shelf because they are horribly written/edited, or because I hate the characters/plot/world/etc. Sometimes I DNF things because they are indescribably boring, confusing, or just personally irritating.
Belles wasn't really any of those things. Or, at least not so much of any one of those things that that's the reason I finally put it down. I put it down because I just. didn't. care. I didn't. I went into this expecting equal parts Southern charm and gossipy family drama, and - though I think maybe they were supposed to be there - I never really got them. Instead, I got a bland story that I'm pretty sure I knew every plot point of loooong before I even hit the 25 page mark (though I guess I can't confirm this, as I didn't keep reading. But I'm pretty sure.). I felt like I was reading an afterschool special. [Think about that. Does that sound in any way appealing?] There was no truth or life in the characters, which, by the 150-page mark (when I gave up, thereabouts), I would have expected someone to come alive.
There was nothing that set this apart and made me want to pick it up, and I didn't really like any of the characters. I didn't dislike them either, though, so I was left feeling so lukewarm that I found myself reading a page or two and then putting it down again. It was becoming a timesuck, and I don't allow myself to finish timesuck books anymore. Life is too short.
The writing and characterization felt really shallow to me. There was nothing beyond the surface - sometimes I'm not even sure there was surface. I didn't feel passion or love in the writing. The injection of a little liveliness and a little more thought could have potentially done wonders; I mean, there were characters named Isabelle and Mirabelle, Hayden and Brayden, for gods sake . . . What the eff is that? If you can't even be bothered to distinguish your characters a bit, how am I supposed to? (Beyond, that is, the good girl/bad girl/poor girl/rich girl scenario that could not be more obvious - seriously. Read 10 pages and I guarantee you'll know who's who with no trouble.)
Now, this is getting a lot of love on Goodreads, I've noticed. So maybe something happens in the last 1/2 of the book that totally makes up for the lack of anything remarkable in the first 1/2. Or maybe it's just not my type of book, but everyone else will love it. I dunno. But I don't think so. I think younger crowds will forgive its simplicity, maybe even like it, but anyone who's read this type of book before and is looking for something - anything - more substantial will move on from this pretty quickly.
Sure does have a pretty cover, though.