Series: Rebel Belle # 1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on April 8, 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.
Imagine that you’re about to be crowned Homecoming Queen, and as you do a few last-minutes preparations in the school restroom, the janitor bursts in. He’s mortally wounded, he makes some bizarre comments, and as he’s dying, he presses his mouth to yours, and a strange…energy fills your body. You now have superhuman strength and the ability to kick some major ass.
This is the awesome opening of Rebel Belle, the new series by Rachel Hawkins. I’ve only previously read her book, School Spirits. Rebel Belle has all of the humor and excitement that made that story so much fun. Harper Price makes for a very interesting protagonist. She’s the queen of her school, and she has her eyes firmly focused on her future. She studies hard, and she participates in every activity humanly possible in order to get herself into the college of her choice. Sharing that odd moment with the janitor was definitely not on Harper’s to do list, and her life is in turmoil when she discovers her new powers and the responsibilities that they entail. She’s a Paladin, tasked with protecting an Oracle, and if that has you scratching your head as much as I did mine, rest assured that Hawkins shares this mythology in a way that is interesting and does not feel like a Wikipedia entry.
Harper’s struggle to accept her new identity was the best aspect of the story. Sure, she’s thrilled by her new powers. But when she learns what she has to do with them, she rightfully asks, “Why me?” It would not have been realistic to expect Harper to immediately leap into action, because it would have been a major contradiction of her carefully constructed persona. She slowly comes to terms with what she must do, and we can sympathize with her and the fact that this will throw her off her path.
There’s a love triangle between Harper and two guys – her good-on-paper boyfriend and David, the quirky reporter for the school paper who loves to torment Harper. It plays out exactly as you would expect, but this is a case where the love triangle mostly works. I could believe that Harper would be conflicted by her feelings when having the perfect boyfriend is part of the image she constructed for herself. So when she starts to have feelings for David, it makes sense that she would struggle to accept them because he does not fit so easily into her Homecoming Queen image.
The ending is equal parts silly and raucous and potentially fatal to everyone involved. Harper Price, the perfect Southern belle, is a little less perfect by the end, but she becomes infinitely more interesting.