Book review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Source: Purchased

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.

Harper Price just wanted to be Homecoming Queen.  And really, everything would have been fine if she’d just remembered her lip gloss.  But no, there she was, stuck in the bathroom putting on the sub-par color she’d borrowed from her best friend when her entire life changed.  The janitor came running in, mumbling something about pals and profusely bleeding underneath his disguise.  (And why, exactly, was the janitor wearing a disguise?!)  He gave her a weird, chilling kiss, and suddenly she was super strong with crazy fighting abilities!  As if that wasn’t weird enough, her history teacher burst into the bathroom – with a SCIMITAR – and called her a bimbo before trying to kill her, too.  To top it all off, as she’s trying to recover from all the craziness, David Stark (her mortal enemy) witnesses her looking less than her best and plasters it all over the school newspaper the next day.

The next thing Harper knows, she’s a Paladin assigned to protect, of all people, DAVID STARK, the one guy on the planet that she can’t stand.  Why?  Because David is an Oracle, and there’s a mysterious organization trying to kill him because historically, boys make really bad Oracles.  Her formerly perfect life is falling apart, and she can’t even tell anyone why!  (And if she did, would they even believe her?)  Harper’s the queen of multitasking, but balancing her homework, extracurriculars, friends, boyfriend, and her new duties as Paladin might be a little much, even for her.

Rebel Belle is probably the most fun book I’ve read in recent memory.  I picked it up on Friday night intending to just read a few pages before going to bed.  Next thing I knew, I was about 200 pages in.  After a quick sleep, I picked it back up and finished the rest before lunch.

Why is Rebel Belle so great?  Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list.

  1. Harper is very girly, and she’s never belittled for it.  She loves high heels, pretty dresses, makeup, and cute boys.  She can’t wait for Cotillion.  She’s head cheerleader.  She’s Homecoming Queen.  She goes out for tea and bakes fancy cakes.  And she can perform her duties as Paladin just as well as any of the men who came before her.  The only people who give Harper a hard time about being girly are the bad guys.  Everybody else in her life accepts her as she is.
  2. Harper, a female, is assigned to protect David, a male.  How frequently does that happen?  (Not often.)  And again, it’s not a big deal.  There’s never a scene where David claims that he can protect himself, that he doesn’t need Harper’s help.  In fact, David is just thrilled that there’s somebody there who can help him and that he can talk to about all this crazy stuff in his life.  And although David and Harper never got along before, he makes it clear that he trusts her to do her job – and do it well.
  3. Everything that I usually critique in books was great!  The character development, the pacing, the continuity, the dialogue – everything.  Even the more fantastical elements (mages, magical potions, visions of the future) were introduced in such a way that they felt natural.  The writing was very accessible, almost to the point where I forgot I was reading and felt more like I was watching everything play out in front of me.
  4. I appreciated how the author handled the love triangle.  (Have I ever said that before? I don’t think so…)  There was just so little drama, with no fighting, no tears, no screaming or arguing or angst.  The end result just felt right, and all three parties agreed.
  5. The whole thing just kind of reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is one of my favorite tv shows of all time.

I can see how some people wouldn’t enjoy Rebel Belle.  Harper seems to be a love her or hate her kind of character.  Personally, I loved her, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Miss Mayhem.

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #39: a book with magic.