Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever. [Book Description from Goodreads]
Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe couldn’t be more different. While Izzie grew up in sketchy Harborside with responsibility laid on her shoulders at a young age, Mira grew up in the lap of luxury in refined Emerald Cove. Both are happy and satisfied with their lives; that is, until the Izzie’s grandmother takes a turn for the worse and Mira’s family adopts their long lost cousin, who happens to be Izzie. Izzie struggles with the glamor and prep of Emerald Cove while Mira is divided between welcoming her less-than-trendy cousin and keeping her snotty friends pleased. As the tension builds, the mean girls at Emerald Cove put everything they’ve got into patronizing Izzie, who must learn to not be ashamed of her upbringing, but Mira must also make a decision- between her backstabbing friends and her homesick cousin.
Belles was a fun summer read. Very light and fluffy. Written simply. Full of drama, but not gut-wrenching intensity. I have to say, the plot was pretty good. Better than I expected. Well, at some parts. At points it was cliché (as were a lot of things in this book) and predictable, but other parts were pretty good. I wasn’t completely thrilled throughout, and I found myself rolling my eyes at some things, but it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was really enjoyable and fun.
I think your final perspective on the book depends on what you expect out of it. I’d heard of the author and her other series (Secrets of My Hollywood Life) so I knew I wasn’t signing up for something amazingly fantastic, because my opinion of her other books (from what I’d heard about them) was that they didn’t seem incredible. I knew Belles wasn’t going to be as dramatic as Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liers and I was hoping it wasn’t going to be as middle-school as, say, The Clique series (yes, I had to do a Google search on middle-school books because I couldn’t think of a ridiculous juvenile series off the top of my head). Nonetheless, Belles was fun and charming, and honest made me thankful I don’t go to a preppy private school with a bunch of snubs.
As a side note, to anyone who’s wondering what specifically annoyed me about Belles: first off, the names. This wasn’t a big issue, of course, but the author could have gotten more creative. Isabelle and Mirabelle? Hayden and Brayden? What’s with the rhyming names? Second, the cliché prep act. And the whole money-growing-on-trees mentality in Emerald Cove. I felt like it was a big overdone. Yes, there are people who live like that, but countless books and movies have used this kind of thing before, and it’s gotten old. Really old. Also, the characters are hard to connect with, but for a light book like this one, it’s not too much of an issue.
In conclusion, Belles isn’t extremely fabulous, mainly because it has some slightly irksome issues, but for a light summer read, it’s great. I think anyone can enjoy it if they get past the predictability and clichés.
*And now for my favorite part: the cover! Oh my word, this has to be one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. Very eye-catching and girly. I absolutely adore it. It’s just what this book needs to draw people in.*