Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a young adult supernatural novel which tells the story of Southern belle teen Harper Price who, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, finds herself with supernatural abilities and the awesome responsibility that comes along with them. While there was a lot I liked about the book, there was still a great deal I felt could have been handled better.
What I liked
The writing style. This is the first book by Hawkins that I have read and I did really enjoy her fresh, witty writing style. There was a lot of humour to be mined from the juxtaposition of Harper’s Southern belle character and her new kickass ninja powers and I enjoyed that very much. I also felt the pacing was kept brisk and the storyline moved along nicely.
The narration. I listened to Rebel Belle in audiobook format, which is narrated by Amy Rubinate. Now, I’d not been too fond of Rubinate’s narration of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series, but I did enjoy listening to her read Rebel Belle. Perhaps the smart, sassy heroine of this book is better suited to Rubinate’s narrative style. Here’s a sample
The concept. The concept of oracles, paladins and mages was very interesting and i enjoyed reading about it. However, the execution wasn’t always logical and/or consistent.
What I didn’t like
Bland characters. Other than Harper, the other characters come across as very two dimensional. Ryan, Harper’s original love interest, is nice but there’s nothing to distinguish him from a million other teenage boys. The villain of the piece is also very underdeveloped. She is not present enough in the book to develop sufficient tension.
Harper’s “logic”. At times I became so frustrated with Harper’s way of thinking. So many times she seemed to find that two plus two equals five and at other times she seemed to willfully ignore what was right in front of her. While some of it I could put down to unreliable narrator, a lot of it did seem very convenient. At times I was uncertain if it was good characterisation that a lot of Harper’s motivations come from personal grief, or if the way the character was written was clumsy. The ending was also very contrived. The error she makes at the end just doesn’t make any sense.
I gave Rebel Belle three and a half stars out of five. I probably will check out the next book in the series. I hear Hawkins’ Hex Hall series is better so I will probably pick that up at some point.