Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Number of Pages: 384
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.
Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
I've never read Hex Hall or the rest of that series. They've always looked pretty cute to me and I know that a lot of my friends love them, but you know how it is--sometimes we just don't get to read all the books we want to. I knew I wanted to read Rebel Belle as soon as I saw this cover, though, and jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy.
I tend to just grab books without reading the cover, especially when there has already been some buzz about them (I'm trying to be better about this as I've picked up WAY too many arcs I'm not really all that interested in just because they had a pretty cover), so I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that this book is set in modern times. I knew it was about a girl who finds out she is a Paladin--which is a special type of warrior whose job is to protect somebody in particular--but I was expecting the Tudor court or something. Who knows. Regardless, our story takes place in today's world in the genteel South, and our Paladin is a girly-girl named Harper Price. Harper is one of those perfect overachievers that so many YA novels seem to follow: she is popular and smart, a cheerleader, junior class president, and set to be Homecoming Queen. In fact, it is at Homecoming that shit starts to hit the fan. She is in the bathroom putting on lipstick when a janitor, fatally injured, "kisses" her. Before she knows it she is life-or-death fight with her science teacher. Not the best way to start an evening.
Harper quickly learns that the janitor was a Paladin and that the kiss was him passing on his powers. She is completely dismayed when she learns that the person whose life she now has to protect at all costs is none other than her sworn enemy, David Stark. David and Harper have been enemies for as long as either can remember. The two are competing for highest rank in their class, and just generally cannot stand to be around each other. In fact, David often uses his position of the paper's editor to call Harper out in print. As the two start to work together to figure out what is going on, though, things between them begin to thaw. Her friends and her perfect boyfriend don't know what to make of their new friendship, and it's not like Harper can tell them the truth.
Rebel Belle is a pretty cute story. I really liked both Harper and David. I'm always a fan of books where the main characters have fun, snarky banner complete with a will-they-or-won't-they vibe. The book reminded me of the Dead is the New Black series by Marlene Perez which was a series I loved for the first 5 books or so. Both are fun, but completely silly. A lot of the scenes also reminded me of the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Especially the mentoring aspect.While I certainly enjoy my share of cute, action stories, this one isn't without some issues.
On thing that really bothered me was that there are a couple of mentions about Harper's older sister, who, like Harper was the "perfect" girl and Homecoming Queen, but who tragically died on her own Homecoming--I believe in a drunk driving accident because Harper talks about how she is drunk--but it's mentioned like an aside that doesn't really matter. I really wish this would have examined with a lot more depth. It's such a tragic thing to get brushed over, making it just a weird detail.
I also didn't really find the "action" scenes that exciting. Because action is such a visual thing, it can be something that is so hard to write, and unfortunately, these scenes never really came together for me. I really enjoyed the dialogue, characters, and their relationships, though.
I'm really curious to see the final formatting of this book as I have no idea how it could possible be almost 400 pages. I've been reading this over the past week or so alongside several other books, so it can be hard for me to gauge how long it took me to read, but I decided to finish the last 20% this morning before getting up, and there is no way that what I read in less than an hour was 80 pages worth of material.
Finally, **SLIGHTLY SPOILER-ISH** the final showdown was nearly as dramatic as I thought it was going to be. At all. The ending was definitely a bit of a let-down.**END**
Overall, Rebel Belle is a cute if insignificant story. It definitely reads like the first book in a series. The ending isn't a cliff hanger, per se, but it's pretty close--with dramatic turns in the last part of the book obviously setting up the next story. If you enjoy kick-butt heroines in somewhat ridiculous circumstances (like Buffy), you'll probably enjoy this. It was a perfectly pleasant way to spend a couple of hours and I really did like both main characters and their relationship to each other.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*