If Rebel Belle was a movie, it would open with a scene showing a "picture-perfect" girl with her "picture-perfect" boyfriend in a "picture -perfect" setting. Then, suddenly, this photograph would dissolve as Harper Price, the protagonist, is thrown into a world of magic. She becomes a Paladin, a guardian with superpowers and a responsibility to protect an Oracle, who can see into the future. It’s a "don’t let power fall into the wrong hands" kind of cliché. The Oracle, to Harper's frustration, also happens to be her arch-nemesis, David Stark.
I originally wasn't very excited to read another book where the main character randomly becomes powerful and the antagonist wants the something the main character has. In this case, it's the Oracle. It’s overused, which makes it difficult for writers to execute the plot in a creative way. I only picked this book up when my favourite author raved about it, and in him I trust.
What is most distinct about this book is Harper. She is a character I’ve been waiting to see among the strong female characters in YA, whether I liked her personality or not. Harper is a stereotypical “girly -girl” and what most books would characterize as the bratty cheerleader type. However, I for one loved how Harper can be the president of the student council, cheerlead, spend time thinking about lip gloss and kick some bad guy butt.
"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,
- Rachel Hawkins
I didn’t see why Harper likes her best friend or boyfriend though. In regards to the boyfriend, there just isn’t any chemistry. I suppose this was done to fuel a love triangle, but the book would have been better without it. Both sides of the triangle aren’t terrible per say, but neither pairing, and Harper's best friend, had very strong relationships. When the antagonist appeared, I didn't care enough about David's safety nor did I hate the antagonist enough anticipate their defeat. The pacing however, was nice and steady, and without giving anything away, I enjoyed the climax. The unexpected ending accomplished its purpose in causing the reader want to read the next book.
If someone were to ask me to describe the plot of this Rebel Belle, I would have a hard time describing anything beyond the given book summary. Rachel Hawkins should have spent more time explaining the fantasy aspects of the novel. I didn’t understand why David was wanted as an Oracle, and the history of the Paladins, Oracles and Mages was rather murky when a character explained it to Harper. It was a classic case of the information overload conversation. Too much (ineffective) telling and not enough showing.
All in all, Rebel Belle was a good in a sense that that I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time reading it, but I most likely won’t be checking out the next book in the series. For once, I didn't mind that I had a hard time connecting to Harper even we are both very different. Her witty and blunt commentary made me laugh and for the most part, I did want to know what happened next. Harper’s narration, whilst not memorable, wasn’t difficult to follow either.
I do hope that there will be more realistic characters like Harper in the future of YA lit, and maybe even from another one of Rachel Hawkin's books, but for today, Harper Price’s rebellion has been squashed from my to-read list.
Rascal Rating: 3 stars
Yasmine A. is a teenager who enjoys messing around with words. She lives in Canada and on the internet, and can't tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. You can find her in the corner of a library finishing her math homework or reading. Find her on Tumblr.