Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa

  • Belle of the Ball
  • by Mari Costa
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication Date: March 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781250784124

Quiet high schooler/mascot Belle has a crush on head cheerleader Gina. Gina, a high achiever, has an on-and-off relationship with her jock girlfriend, Chloe, who is currently failing her English class. In order for Chloe and Gina to be on the same ten year plan, Gina befriends Belle to convince her to tutor Chloe. After a rocky start, Belle and Chloe start to bond over their shared interests and childhood friendship. As Gina finds herself working more and more towards achieving her academic dream, and Chloe and Belle get closer, it becomes clear that the things these three initially thought they wanted may have changed.

Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa takes a simple premise, a high school love triangle, but develops it into a sapphic romcom story that sparks with humor and emotion throughout. All three protagonists feel realistic and likable in a way that makes you root for all three. The artist’s decision to provide distinct body types, hairstyles, and expressions for each character’s design is another way she successfully develops the character-driven story. The choice of a pink color palette gives the book a swoon-worthy vibe.  It successfully merges art and dialogue seamlessly in its narrative, and provides an enjoyable experience for readers who will definitely want more.

Hand this comic to fans of the graphic novel series Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, or The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag, all books that share similarities in light romance stories with a strong emotional core. This is also a perfect book for fans of sapphic romance stories that follow enemies to lovers, such as the book She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen.

—Rachel Johannigmeier

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The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.