Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is the first book in a new series by the author of the Hex Hall books. I grabbed it partly because I enjoyed the earlier (and unrelated) books and partly because the blurb sounded pretty great. Who doesn't want to read about a cheerleader (/future valedictorian) who gets Buffy-like superpowers and has to protect the weird kid?
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.
This book was a lot of fun to read. I got through it very quickly, almost in one sitting (but there was sleep required). It's exactly the sort of fun popcorn book I like to relax and unwind with, which does not require a great amount of thought. And really, what's not to like about a girl who kills an attacker with a pink high heel?

What I found interesting was the way in which Southern stereotypes are presented as though they are self-evident. It gave me the impression that perhaps they are more widely know within the US than outside of it. Cotillion, for example, was a mystery until there was sufficient context for me to realise it was basically a déb(utante ball). Another example is that "y'all" doesn't automatically conjure up Southern Belle for me and the general emphasis on manners was unexpected. I mean, it could just be my experiences rather than a general thing. And it's true that the only non-movie thing I can think of set in the South is True Blood, take from that what you will.

Moving on to another cultural note, my impression before I started reading was that this was going to be "cheerleader has to protect nerd" but it's more like "all-round overachiever girl has to protect hipster boy who's almost as smart as her". I was bemused at her deep hatred of his hipster clothing, but I suppose it's understandable on some level.

I suppose I should talk about the story as well. There's a lot of running around trying not to get anyone killed while as trying to balance the million things Harper has going on in her life. Her perfect grades and her perfect boyfriend become a bit challenging to hold on to, which is understandable, obviously, but not for Harper who doesn't want to give up anything. I might have had (wildly) different priorities in high school, but I found her very easy to relate to.

Rebel Belle was a very fun read and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out in April. I highly recommend it to fans of YA and Buffy looking for a non-taxing and entertaining read.I think I'd go so far as to say I enjoyed it more than the Hex Hall books.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Putman (Penguin)
Series: Yes, book 1 of 3?
Format read: Hardcover, gasp!
Source: Purchased from a non-Amazon-owned online book shop

2 comments:

  1. Vwonder if Dymock's hs it? Or the Sun Bookshop? My students might enjoy this. They're a bit young to remember Buffy, but I think the girls would like it anyway. I know the Demon Princess series is popular in the Sunshine College library...

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    1. I hope you can find it! I don't think it's been picked up by an Australian publisher/imprint (I bought an American import in Sweden). Her first series did come out in Australia but with very terrible covers and low promotional coverage (I think), so I feel it could go either way :-/ I'll see if I can find out more.

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