satisfying conclusion to a fascinating duology
In a world where beauty is a currency, the Belles are special, gifted with beauty and the power to bestow beauty on others. As we learned in the first book, their job is really a forced duty with people looking for ways to abuse their abilities. They have no choice in the matter. THE EVERLASTING ROSE picks up right where the first book left off, with Camille, Edel, and Amber, three of the Belles, on the run with Remy, a soldier and potential love interest.
Camille is forced deep into hiding while the world is changing. With Sophia at the realm and claiming her sister is dead, she is changing things in the kingdom for the worse. She also appears to be doing nefarious things with the Belles who she has. This book avoids a lot of world-building and background information with only what is necessary included, and as such, it is best read after the first book/does not function as a stand-alone.
What I loved: This whole series is fascinating. In an often beauty-obsessed culture, this book takes it to the next level and exposes the sometimes absurdity of the beauty obsession. The themes are really interesting and could spark some good discussions. The writing flows really well, and the plot completely pulls you in to the story. I eagerly awaited this second book, and overall, it did feel like a satisfying conclusion.
What left me wanting more: The pacing in the book felt a bit off where it was very slow in parts (particularly the beginning) and then really fast in others. I would have liked more information and building with the Iron Ladies who seemed to rush through the story. Additionally, some elements felt a little thrown in at times- mainly, the romance which was pieced here and there and the confrontations with characters from the previous book (I will not give details to avoid spoilers). I felt like the book would be about the same without the romance, and either would have liked the relationship to be more strongly built or left out. I also would have liked to know more about the truths of this world, including where the Belles come from (this is a common plot point, but I am not sure we ever got the full answer), and the extent of their abilities, the knowledge of which is growing in this book. The ending, while satisfying, felt a little rushed with a lot of buildup and then an abrupt series of quick events.
Final verdict: This duology is really fascinating and deals with some interesting themes. The characters are well built and the world mostly fleshed out. In this satisfying conclusion, we follow the Belles and Camille on their road to rebellion. I would certainly recommend this series for lovers of YA fantasy and dystopian.