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. And just when she thinks life cant 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 favourite person. Things get even more complicated when Harper starts falling for him – and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
I picked up Rebel Belle because I was intrigued to read about a strong female character (with a girly side), and found the concept of a girl who has to save the boy a refreshing change. It made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (minus the vamps), and I was sold! Okay, so I was a little put off by the ‘chosen one’ cliché and the fact she falls for the male character, but at least where that’s concerned, he isn’t described as good looking (at least where his clothes are concerned), and Harper only sees him as physically attractive after falling for him as a person. Which is preferable to the oft used instalove, am I right?
With the promise of Harper’s agility, super strength, and lethal fighting instincts, I had high hopes for a tonne of fights, from start to finish. And it did start off well. characters and setting were quickly established, and then we had the first fight scene. The action then takes a bit of a back seat to make way for the exposition, as you expect, but the trouble is, given the nature of the plot, a lot of exposition was needed. Almost constantly.
And with all the exposition, I felt the urgency regarding David’s fate was somehow lost. Given his own newfound abilities, I couldn’t see how the fate of the world was at risk. Was it a case of being not properly explained? Or having read so much exposition that I’d brushed past it, eager to get back into the action? Either way, I’d failed to connect with David’s importance within the novel, and as he essentially makes up the plot, my interest was lost. Others may disagree, but it doesn’t bode well for me picking up the second book in the series.
Another reason this is unlikely to happen is the characters themselves. Harper is characterised as a perfectionist, which runs the risk of making her unrelatable to the reader. There’s a backstory to (sort of) explain this, which attempts to make her perfectionism a flaw in itself. (As if that’s a thing. How many people out there answer interview questions about their weaknesses, by saying things like “they’re too much of a perfectionist?” It sounds false.) And then we have Harper’s best friend, Bee. She isn’t that involved where the plot’s concerned, and when she is, I found her grating and annoying. Despite being told time and again that the two of them were best friends, I didn’t feel the bond between her and Harper as I should have. The connection wasn’t there. Harper’s boyfriend Ryan, although slightly more developed, was still lacking in character beyond his ‘hot boyfriend’ role.
When the novel finally decided to kick it up a gear toward the end, it was disappointingly brief. Although it was just starting to get interesting, this was perhaps too little too late. Essentially, Rebel Belle is a good title with an appealing cover, but nothing more than a glorified prologue to the next, ‘actual’ novel.