Book Review: Miss Mayhem

cover-miss mayhemTitle: Miss Mayhem [Rebel Belle 2]

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Immediately after putting down Rebel Belle, I grabbed Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins. I was excited to move onto the second book in the series and to continue the story of Harper, David, Ryan, and Bee. Miss Mayhem picks up immediately where Rebel Belle left off, and though the transition seemed seamless, about halfway into the book I began to realize that things were a little off.

Like the previous book in the series, the writing was clear, easy to follow, grammatically correct, and other than the way my Kindle decided to butcher the formatting, error free. However, something seemed to be missing. It took me awhile to put my finger on it, but at the halfway mark, I realized that the narrative lacked any of the funny, sometimes a bit meta asides that I’d come to love in Rebel Belle. Harper’s tone of voice was much more serious in this installment to the series. She didn’t crack jokes or poke fun at herself. As a side effect, the narrative lost some of the humor and heart that I found so engaging previously. Instead of gorging myself on a 9-hour binge read (as I did with the previous book), I found myself repeatedly putting the book down to do other things, and I didn’t feel drawn to pick it back up again.

Don’t get me wrong, the book was still a fantastic read and a compelling continuation of the Rebel Belle series… but it lacked that magical engaging quality that I’d expected when I picked it up. Still, the characters stayed true to their original versions and were well-built. The narrative was natural (though, I too agree with David and Boyfie was not a thing that needed to happen), and the plot was interesting.

My only other major complaint about the book was the ending. I won’t spoil it for you (don’t worry), but I will say that it felt very… final. Even though it was left open for a third book, as the story closed there was this sense of foreboding and finality that came with the closing scene. To be honest, I didn’t like it. When the previous book ended I was compelled to pick up the second book. I wanted to see what would happen with David and Harper and all their friends. With how this book ended, however, I feel no such draw. It’s not that I want the story of Harper and her friends to end permanently as it did here… but I don’t know if I honestly care to find out what happens next. The end was kind of… depressing.

Overall, I liked the book and I’m glad that I read it. I think the first book in the series was better, but this one wasn’t bad. Despite the end and the more serious tone of Harper’s POV, I still really enjoyed the story.

Book Review: Rebel Belle

cover-rebel belleTitle: Rebel Belle [Rebel Belle 1]

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

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.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It’s not very often that I pick up a book—be it on a whim or something I was asked to read—that has me so engrossed by the end of the first page that I forget to take notes. For a few hours that go by all too fast, I forget that I’m a book reviewer and I need to keep track of things like character names, typos and plot holes. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins did one better. By the end of the first sentence, I was sucked in by the voice and humor of the main character, Harper, and completely forgot all of my worldly obligations. I find myself writing up this review at 2 AM, unsure what happened to the last 9 hours.

This book was spectacular—and I don’t say that about a lot of YA. The characters were vivid and so full of depth that they felt like real people. The narrative voice was both engaging, hilariously witty, and comfortable at the same time; it felt like Harper was my best friend, and she was narrating the story to me as if we were catching up after a long weekend.

The narrative was clear, easy to follow and punctuated by humor-filled asides that made it a joy to read. Harper poked fun at herself and her story throughout the book, and despite the many things about her that normally would have put me on edge (she was a popular cheerleader obsessed with cotillions and lip gloss after all), I found it impossible to dislike her. She was your average, self-involved teen just trying to survive high school—that is until her history teacher tried to murder her in the girl’s bathroom with a scimitar. Considering her circumstances, she came across as a strong character. Despite the craziness of her schedule, social obligations, and oh yah… the order of magical people trying to have her assassinated, she managed to keep herself together.

I thought the author did a fantastic job of keeping all the characters, even the lesser side characters, not only present and functional in the plot, but so well written that I had no problem telling them apart or remembering their names. The plot itself was full of twists and turns. There were several moments when things took a shift in a direction I didn’t expect, and I literally gasped aloud. I never knew where the story was going to go or what decisions the characters might make, and it kept me on my toes.

I could go on and on about this book and never say as much as I want to—that’s how much I loved it, but I’m going to save you from the spoilers. Overall? I loved the book. Hands down. I am thankful to have read it, and I will immediately be picking up the next book in the series. If you’re looking for a good, solid YA book filled with magic, romance, high school drama, and bathroom brawls, you’re going to love this book every bit as much as I did. I would highly recommend it to all YA readers. Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got a spot on my Keeper Shelf that’s waiting to be filled.