Title: Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: April 8th, 2014
Summary: 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.
You might not know this about me, but I’m actually not a huge girly girl. I don’t really like pink, I don’t wear makeup, I wouldn’t dream of casually wearing heels, and I think beauty pageants are just ridiculous. Instead, I usually rock jeans and a nerdy t-shirt, spend my time reading fantasy books or gaming with my guy friends, and I swear worse than my sixteen year old brother. So just looking at this cover had me a little hesitant, and when I read the summary, I was ready to chuck this book in the fire. But, through the sheer power of will and the overwhelming fear of being murdered by my reader friends if I didn’t finish this book, I started the first page. And didn’t put the book down once. Yeah, you heard me. I busted this book in a few hours, finishing at about one in the morning, very alarmed to see it was that late because I hadn’t even noticed the time passing. I liked this book. I liked this book with it’s pink cover and perky heroine and silly dresses and lighthearted magic stuff. It was actually kind of… cute.
In Rebel Belle, we meet Harper, the sort of girl that I probably would have avoided in high school. She’s head of practically every club or leadership related thing in the school, she says cutesy little things instead of swear words, she spent over a thousand dollars on her Homecoming dress and she keeps her lips perfectly glossed at all times. Right off, I did not like Harper one bit. But as the pages flew by, she started to grow on me. Under that perfect, perky exterior, Harper had a tough, loyal, fun side to her that I adored. She ends up getting super Paladin powers from her janitor, and suddenly she can kick ass. Like, really kick ass. Like, she stabbed someone in the throat with her heel. Suddenly, girly shoes became a lot more interesting to me. She was fierce and strong and confident, and I love how self sufficient she was. This girl doesn’t need anyone, and I loved it. Harper actually had more layers than I expected, an unending arsenal of witty comebacks, and a whole lot of spunk.
Then we meet David, the boy that Harper is supposed to protect with her new-found powers. Because he may or may not be very very special. The only problem is, they absolutely despise each other. I mean, they hate each other with a fiery passion. David is the hipster guy that wears corduroy pants and writes stories for the school newspaper, occasionally pointing out bad things about Harper, which is unacceptable. But when they are forced to work together, she realizes that David might not be so bad after all. I adored David. Let’s just say that it takes a special kind of guy to deal with Harper. And he is such a cutie, I almost couldn’t handle it. Did I mention that he likes Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings and probably a plethora of other adorable nerdy things? Cue the wistful sighing. Anyways, David has some secrets of his own, but most importantly, under those layers of v-necks and striped sweaters, he has a big heart of gold.
One of the only problems I had with this book was the big fat love-triangle that was determined to drag itself out through the whole book. Harper of course, starts to deal with some questionable feelings about David, all while she is dating the most perfect boyfriend possible, Ryan. And Ryan is a good guy and a pretty awesome boyfriend, I’ll give him that. The things is, as far as love triangles go, this is probably the type that I find to be the most acceptable. Where the girl has a steady boyfriend then meets the new guy and starts to like him. That’s an okay thing to happen and a lot less annoying then two guys suddenly taking an interest in a girl and fighting to the death over her. No thanks. The problem in this book though was that it just went on and on. And I get that Harper has this weird thing with having to be the best and keeping things perfect, so possibly not liking her perfect boyfriend is scary and all, but she should have dropped him from like page one. Watching her run back and forth between the two of them got frustrating after like the first ten times it happened.
As far as the plot goes, it was really cutesy and fun. Rachel Hawkins really has a way of making her books just an enjoyable, lighthearted read while still making you care about the characters and I love it. Since I adored the characters and their interactions, it made the book a million times better. The only problem was that not a whole lot really happens. The beginning took right off with Harper getting her powers and killing a guy, then finding out what all she could do and a few things including a car chase. I mean, it was a great start and it really draws you in. But then, things start to slow down. Now I obviously loved this book and raced through it, but once I was done, there was kind of that moment where I looked back and realized not a whole lot actually happened. Most of the book is just character interaction and trying to solve a few mysteries and a few bad guys trying to do bad stuff, but not a whole lot besides that.
Also, the whole Paladin, while original, was a little lacking. I enjoyed it just because it was a new thing I’d never read about, but there just wasn’t really anything about it to make it unique or memorable. Basically, Harper being a Paladin just meant that she has super fighting skills now and a strong urge to protect David from harm. So while I did like the magic elements in this book, everything seemed kind of mashed together with no clear connection. We are given some back-story to the whole Paladin thing, but it wasn’t really a strong mythology and seemed a little discombobulated. But by the end of this book, it feels like there are still lots of things that Harper and David don’t know yet, so maybe we will get more explanations in the next book, and hopefully it can bring the mythology together a bit better.
The thing about this book though is that despite the few things that I didn’t like, I still had a great time reading this book. I was giggling and cheering and covering my eyes at the embarrassing parts. I loved Harper and David and their friends and the little Southern town they live in and all the people in it. This book is definitely a cutesy book, but it still won me over purely because it is so cute and fun. Honestly, if you have any girly bone in your body, something about this book will probably appeal to you, as long as you can deal with the few technical issues.