Friday, January 10, 2014

Early Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Rebel Belle
Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: 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.

My Review

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is my favorite novel to have a protagonist with superpowers in a long time. Let that sink in a little. Now, let me know you that lately all superhero/superpower novels have earned the glorious "DNF" badge from me, so much so that I was starting to believe that I did not like either of those as a plot device. Thankfully, Rebel Belle exists and showed me that superpowers books can be smart, sassy, and utterly entertaining.

I am so tired of having a heroine that has this mediocre life, meh self-esteem, and ends up being this dazzling diamond-in-the-rough. Harper Jane Price is just the opposite of that - she is a special snowflake, but only because she's worked her ass off for it her entire life. She's the Homecoming Queen-overachiever who heads various clubs and committees, is the president of SGA (student government association), and is in the running for valedictorian. Do I fault her for any of that? Nope, because we're shown her dedication to all of those things. I also like how she's rounded out into a realistic being by the depth added to her regarding her sister, Leigh-Anne (which thankfully was not overdone), and how she navigates her relationships with Ryan and Bee without revealing the truth behind her strange behavior. (Face it - if your best friend told YOU that s/he suddenly had superpowers and was a Paladin, you'd think they had boarded the crazy train.) Harper's response to her new powers is also hilarious.
First of all, I had gotten totally screwed on the "origin story" front. All superheroes have origin stories, like how Bruce Wayne's parents get killed and he goes to Tibet or whatever, and Superman is an alien, and Spiderman had that radioactive spider. Me? I kissed a janitor in the school bathroom. — p. 56, ARC

Also, how could I not like a character who says "no thank you" to a lifelong epic quest. Personally, I'd have just run when faced with the same.

The mythology/fantasy aspect of Rebel Belle was a refreshing change in a young adult novel. I haven't seen many (if any) mentions of Charlemange or Paladins - especially in an Alabama high school. I won't lie, if I had been told only "Paladin YA novel", the first thing on my mind would not have been a novel centered on a Cotillion-ready cheerleader. I know it's wrong to think it, but it's usually the boys who get to be the magical knight defenders. Want an even better gender twist? Too bad, read the book.

Rebel Belle was a fun book that colored outside the lines of YA. If you like your heroines level-headed and outside of the YA-heroine box, give Rebel Belle a try. You won't be disappointed.

- 4/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.

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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!