Sunday, 18 January 2015

CFB Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

The cover's a bit too fluffy froofroo for me, but I'll take it.

   This is one of those novels that I've picked up and put down over and over again in the bookshop, thinking "Should I? Not this time. Maybe I should...nah, never mind." Then Poland Bananas Books named it as one of her favorite books of 2014, and then I saw it again at the store. I figured that might've been a sign from the powers that be, and I got it.

   Some of you may know that I'm not the biggest contemporary fan. I go way into the past, or way into the future. Probably I wasn't used to the vernacular anymore, which was why during the first few pages, Harper Price (our protagonist) irked me. The language seemed like it tried too hard to be down with the times. But she grew on me, and within the next few chapters, I fell in love with her. She reminds me of myself in high school: part of every school organization, in charge of events, vying for valedictorian, etc. I wasn't Homecoming Queen (my school didn't have homecoming) but I was Prom Princess! Harper's whole life revolved around school, which meant that she was in for quite a shock. By sheer happenstance, she (literally) gets sucked into a centuries-old battle for power. 

   I loved that when the time came for her to accept her destiny, Harper was like, "Yeah...nope. No, thanks. I'm gonna go back to my regular, non-threatening activities because y'all are crazy." I mean personally, I would've hopped on a train to Westeros if it meant seeing magic, but then again, so would 99% of YA heroines out there. What makes Harper different is that she doesn't want any of that. She doesn't want adventure or magic. She wants to be valedictorian and get into a good college. What impressed me is that Rachel Hawkins was able to write a character like this without making her seem petty and shallow. Harper Price isn't some dumb bimbo. Yes, she'll spend a thousand dollars on a dress and throw a hissy fit if she doesn't have the exact shade of lip gloss she needs, but she'll do it while kicking your butt at spelling bees and AP classes. 

   Speaking of Harper's intelligence, can we take a minute to admire her for untangling her supernatural destiny by checking a couple of books out of the library and marathoning Marvel movies? 

   The cast of characters in Rebel Belle were just all so lovable. I've got a soft spot for Bee, Harper's best friend. I like how Rachel Hawkins doesn't play the whole BFF-turns-on-heroine-once-heroine-starts-changing trope. Nope, Bee was at her side the whole time, with a heart bigger than her appetite for Cinnabon. 

   The love story in this book was ace. Towards the end of the novel, when the ball really got rolling on the romance angle, I found myself with a constant case of heart-in-my-throat, because dang it, I just wanted those two suckers to get together already! And Rachel Hawkins certainly did not disappoint. I guess if I had to nitpick, I'd wish that the whole "breaking up with her hottie boyfriend because she's really in love with that other dude" part of the story wasn't so cliché. She did that thing where Harper just doesn't feel sparks anymore for her boyfriend Ryan, and suddenly, she's noticing things about David that she never did before. Yep. We've been down that road plenty of times before. And I don't know how I feel about the revelation that *SPOILER* David's been in love with her all this time. It gave his character an immature angle--"I'm in love with her, so I'll spend all these years bullying her and writing awful articles about her. How fourth-grade am I?" But childish behavior aside, I still love David Stark, and his chemistry with Harper was amazeballs.

   The plot didn't take itself too seriously, which was good in some ways, and bad in others. I do wish there had been more exposition on what exactly a Paladin does, and how she is supposed to protect the Seer. The bright side of a not-too-serious plot is that we avoided the angst-filled chapters usually found in many young adult books nowadays. Harper was an absolute delight to get to know. It was a fun, easy read that you could easily speed through in a few days (I know some of you read faster than that, but two days is fast for me!).

Salve's Hopes for Book #2:

-Ryan finds love and/or tries to win Harper back.
-We get to kick Blythe's ass.
-Bee gets rescued and learns some ass-kicking herself.
-More feels between Harper & David.

My rating: 8/10 for wonderful, lovable characters, light & humorous writing, but I subtracted two from a perfect 10 because of The David Stark Flaw and lack of Paladinsplanation.


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