Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1)
By: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: April 8th, 2014
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.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means that tomorrow I will be visiting the south–specifically, the town of Tuxedo, which can’t really get much more Southern, Mountain, and/or redneck. But anyways, I thought that this was the perfect time to introduce y’all to Rachel Hawkins, hilarious twitter personality, cat mom and Southern Woman. Also, people, this is why social media is important: I decided to read this book not because I had actually heard anything about it (although at one point I’d added it on Goodreads?), but because I follow the author on Twitter and she is a HOOT, as we would say in the South. I was planning to review her latest book, Royals, but decided instead to go back a little further and review Rebel Belles, a slightly older series.
Anyways, Rebel Belles can be loosely described as a deep south version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harper is just about perfect in every way–head of the cheer squad, SGA president, tied for Valedictorian, about to be crowned Homecoming Queen–but that all changes when the janitor dies in her arms at the Homecoming dance and gives her an unsettling set of abilities. When she pokes further, she finds out that she’s a Paladin, a tradition stemming from Charlemagne herself, and that her new duty is to protect the Oracle–who happens to be her school nemesis David.
If you need a fun, delightful, hilarious romp, pick up this book. Although it took me about 3 days to get 20 pages in (I thought Harper was, to use another Southern saying, a ‘priss pot’), I ended up devouring the rest of the book in just about one sitting. Harper is an extreme do-gooder, but in a way that ends up becoming amusing rather than annoying (and is probably stemming from a massive anxiety disorder, but whatever). She cares deeply about everything, and is willing to do to any length to make sure things work out how she wants them to. Needless to say, this does actually make her a very good Paladin.
The love story was still fairly obvious, but also deeply enjoyable. While Harper is partnered with the gorgeous, athletic Ryan for Homecoming (and, again as is the way in the South, the assumption is that they’ll marry after high school or maybe college and be together forever), as her new powers put her much closer to David she realizes that they have far more in common. It’s a very natural progression of things, over the course of the book, in a way that could technically be called a love triangle but also just an awakening. I enjoyed her realization that Ryan didn’t understand her or care about the same things, and that David did.
And Lawd, I was howling at all of the VERY southern things that Hawkins plays with during this book. Harper technically kills someone in a car chase, and all of her family are more concerned about how it looks to have her skipping school. The massive magical climax of the book happens during COTILLION, for goodness sakes. Harper goes over to her great-aunts when she needs town gossip, because she knows they have ALL of it. I am not from *that* far south, but enough that I could still laugh at all of the fun Hawkins has here. And although I don’t know how a yankee would read this book, I bet they’d still laugh at it.
The ending was more intense, and put the situation for the sequel in a VERY different place than I was expecting, but I was still howling at it, and I can’t wait to read it. I will happily take all Rachel Hawkins feels like giving me of Southern teens fighting the world.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.