Led by a spunky, girly, and charismatic heroine, this book bends fantasy tropes to hilarious effect.
Recommended grade level: 8 and up
Pages: 345 (for ISBN 9780399256936)
Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy
Themes: destiny, romantic relationships
Summary: 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. (Source)
Who will like this book?: This is a great one to give to the “popular girls.” It should appeal to their interests without falling into vapidity or questionable messages. It’s a solid choice for any fantasy-romance fans, but it really shines when it’s being satirical. This aspect of it would be most appreciated by avid readers and those with just a touch of (but not too much) cynicism.
Who won’t like this book?: Probably not many guys; it is definitely written with a female audience in mind. The romance is significant enough that I wouldn’t recommend it to a fantasy fan who doesn’t like romance. It also won’t appeal to those who like their books especially serious.
Other comments: I booktalked this to incoming 8th graders last May and a lot of kids ended up reading it. The book makes it pretty clear that Harper is sexually active, though no particular incidences of sexual activity are ever mentioned.
Sequel(s): Miss Mayhem (2015); Lady Renegades (2016)
Readalikes: I’m putting this book in the fantasy-romances-with-slightly-ridiculous-premises-that-know-they’re-slightly-ridiculous camp. Going by that: Hawkins’ series Hex Hall is a perfect fit. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White has a similar kick-butt heroine and love triangle. I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter is not fantasy but it is highly unlikely, and definitely fits the mood of Rebel Belle. I’d also recommend this to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.