A fun romp of YA fantasy in the Southern U. S. of A. I think it was made even better with the narrator’s lovely accent, though honestly Harper Price pretty much had me after killing a man with a stiletto.
by Rachel Hawkins
Putnam Juvenile, April 2014
YA urban fantasy
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies
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.
Harper Price Has It Made
I don’t think I’d ever seen such a well-put together young woman in high school, let alone the fact that she’s only a junior and already a member–and head–of a gazillion clubs, has the “perfect” boyfriend, a best friend who’s practically awesome, and a bright future ahead of her. Not just because she’s a head cheerleader and the homecoming queen, nope. She’s also pretty darn smart and can word-spar with the academy’s most stalwart journalist.
In short, she’s the type of character you can throw into the Mary Sue bucket.
BUT. And yes, there is a but.
The fact is that she is a Mary Sue and is slowly unraveling at the pressures of her newly begotten Paladin powers. Eventually she ends up losing
Aaron Samuels a boyfriend, her friends all think she’s gone off the deep end (so there goes her army of skanks), and her principal, parents, and–in some degree–cotillion matron (or trainer…or whatever they’re called) think she’s lost her shit and going the way of the tragic statistic (which might or might not take care of her “hot body”). At that point she becomes a little more interesting and a little less Mary Sue-ish.
I will admit, however, that even as a Mary Sue, I kind of liked Harper Jean Price. She’s the epitome of Southern charm and upbringing, valuing family and tradition foremost in her life. The most important event in her life at Rebel Belle is pretty much cotillion, and heck, she’s been preparing for that since she was a little girl.
Up until she gets snogged in the ladies’ bathroom by a janitor. Up until she gets attacked by her history teacher in the same bathroom. Up until she realizes she can fight back. And then she kills the man with a shoe, and honestly, I was already done by that point. Laughing, I tell ya. It was diabolical. It was effing perfect. The fact that the Oracle pretty much sets the cotillion as the “day of doom,” so to speak makes the whole situation with Harper even more insane. How she manages to keep her shit together until cotillion is beyond me. I guess that’s why I may need a few lessons from her.
Now, that is not to say that the book was something I would have picked up if not for the audiobook. The Southern accent did help, and I kept grinning when I heard the narrator talk with Harper’s story voice. It was pretty cool. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have been as entertained if I’d read the text, only because while the first few chapters were a lot of fun, things start getting a bit boring after things got explained to Harper. There’s a lull in the middle of the book where I just wanted cotillion to be over with already, just so we’d get to the end.
And er, I’m not quite sure how the hookup happened, really. It seemed to move too slowly at certain points, and then BAM. Suddenly Harper and her new beau are snogging. It was weird.
All the same, Harper Jean Price did teach me a few things along the way.
How to Survive to Cotillion as a Paladin
- Learn martial arts. Mostly, learn martial arts whilst wearing a kickass white dress.
- Don’t drink the punch at cotillion, especially when you know there’s an alchemist on the loose. Plus, it’s not very good anyway.
- That editor in the newspaper is worth having as a friend and not an enemy. He might even be a good snog if you’re into the whole geek thing (I know I am).
- Do not throw an evil, deranged mage into the back of the car and expect her to stay there the next time you turn around. She’s a mage, chances are she’ll know how to Apparate.
- Staplers can be brandished as weapons, but it’s just embarrassing, so don’t bother.
- Just tell your BFF everything. It’ll save some time later on when shit hits the fan.
- Need to escape a tail? Drive your car into a fence.
- Most importantly, don’t forget your damn lip gloss.
So yeah. Rebel Belle was a fun and light read, though pretty slow in the middle with a set of Mean Girl-esque characters that I just didn’t care about. (I mean, honestly, Mary Beth, control yourself.) All in all, I’d recommend it as an audiobook, if only to hear the narrator’s lovely Southern drawl.
3 out of 5 cookies!