General Summary: After Izzie’s long lost aunt shows up she must decide whether she wants to live with her or her dad (come on, seriously, Calonita research how custody child laws work) and there’s melodrama galore as usual.
Sigh. When I first read the first book in this series I loved it, despite its tendency to be a little corny. The next book I got annoyed with it, but sort of figured maybe this is middle book syndrome. But now upon reflection. This series sucks.
Oh, I know. Burn.
I actually feel sort of bad about it, maybe for a millisecond. While a part of me thinks that maybe Calonita is trying to market at the younger audience, the rational part of my brain is telling me this is no excuse.
I mean it. I think writing for a younger group of people is great, but that doesn’t mean you have to have your older audience rolling their eyes. Take for instance, Harry Potter. The books start out when he’s eleven and are marketed towards children, but I never feel like I’m being hammered in lessons like this book does.
Of course, if you analysis Harry Potter there are a ton of little life lessons sprinkled in there (like chat with strangers you can’t see), but once again I don’t feel like they’re forced down my throat.
It’s like this book tried too hard being rated G that it sort of shot itself.
The series is supposed to have a soap like element. And let me be frank, soap operas aren’t marketed towards kids. I’m not saying that this book needed graphic, per say, but I think there lacked an element of maturity for me to take it seriously.
Take the relationships in the book. They are really 1D. And I’m talking about both familiar relationships and romantic relationships. With YA I sort of expect families to be sort of shafted since everyone and their mother does the Charlie Swan parenting thing. But Belles is supposed to be about family. I wanted more dynamics with Bill and his kids. I’d like to see Aunt Maureen actually do more than look pretty and be nice and try to force down deadbeat relatives down Izzie’s throat. And isn’t it weird that Izzie calls her stepmother Aunt Maureen because to me that’s sort of creepy? I wanted Zoey to me more than a name dropper who only appears when she’s disappointing Izzie.
But alas, that’s not the case.
But there’s still some hot romance, right?
The guys are basically men-cessories. Arm candy. I honestly feel sorry for Mira/Kellan fans. Two books spent building that relationship then Calonita decides to have him move away and Mira gets with another drip whose name you’d only see on a CW show (His name is Landon if you’re curious). Izzie and Brayden aren’t that much better either. They’re just as lovey dovey as ever and there’s no development or conflict to their relationship. It actually sort of made me miss all those pointless Princess Diaries sequels where Mia obsesses about having sex with Michael because at least Mia was talking about going to the next level with her boyfriend. Here though, that’s never even brought up. Which you might think, refreshing, but living in happyville throughout the entire novel is just unrealistic. And the fact there’s no progression except for one lame attempt of sneaking out and visiting his sister at her college-lame.
The really sad thing about this is I think it’s the end of this series and it ends on such a, well, boring note. This book really was uncessary and it just ruined a lot of things about the first two books that I liked.
Best Feature: Clean. Maybe too clean. I honestly felt like I was reading a Nancy Drew book without the mystery. It was like this book was trying to be sophisticated while still being rated G but it just came off wrong. The tone of the book just came off as condescending and patronizing. I don’t need lessons hammered in my head. And I’m sure it’s targeted audience doesn’t want morality lessons hammered in them too.
Worst Feature: Cornball. This book is beyond corny. And melodramatic. And just unrealistic. I was giving it a lot of leeway too because I think Belles is supposed to come off as being sort of a soap opera. But I watch soaps and they aren’t like this. This just comes off as very childish and one dimensional. Which is a shame because when the series began, it had potential.
Appropriateness: This is pretty clean. I mean, it’s so clean it makes me feel like I’ve been to the dentist.
Blockbuster Worthy: Disney movie of the week, maybe. They really do need to reformat some things. For casting see here.
Overall Rating: Three out of ten belles. I didn’t like this one. Maybe it was just me. Right now, I’m very cynical and a book like this just had me rolling my eyes and gagging. Someone who is more upbeat might enjoy it more, but boy is it corny. I really felt like it was talking down to me and that’s something I think any reader of any age hates. So no, I don’t really recommend this one. Really, waht could’ve been a great series based on a pretty good first book ended on a very sour note.