Okay! I’m back from my 9-5 shift at work and ready to snap back into action! I was able to read a little bit during my lunch break and I managed to finish my third book, Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins.
Hawkins is responsible for the much-lauded Hex Hall series, but I didn’t even know that when I picked up Rebel Belle. I was lured in by a case of cover-lust, pure & simple. (Pink, bows, shiny pearls, and heavy weaponry?! Yes, please!) Once I learned that it was a Fantasy/Romance set in the Deep South, I was done for.
The plot is this: Harper Price, a Type-A personality Southern Belle with the mouth of — well, I’d say my grandma if my grandma didn’t actually swear like a sailor — let’s just say her speech is very clean and polished — is at the Homecoming Dance, ready to receive her crown. What she’s not ready to receive are supernatural powers, which transform her into a Paladin, simultaneously giving her ninja-like reflexes, the strength of ten men, and screwing up her life entirely. But that’s exactly what she gets. She’s tasked with protecting her school and her arch-rival, David Stark, an Oracle. Bad-assery (a term I’m sure Harper would not approve of) and love triangles ensue. There’s sweet tea, and mention of the Rapture, and Cotillion…
Sounds pretty great, right? I mean, admittedly ridiculous… but great.
Nope. Not great.
This book bugged me more than is probably healthy. The problem is that I felt like the author was under the impression that certain parts of her book paid homage to Buffy (she even mentions Giles by name), but in reality it wasn’t homage… it was ripping Buffy off. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? But honestly, when we’re introduced to Harper she’s head-cheerleader with a big group of friends.
But then she’s saddled with destiny and powers and has to come to terms with that. At first she denies her destiny.
Then she learns that there’s no denying it. She’s the Chosen One.
Even part of the “twist” ending was stolen directly from Buffy. But then Hawkins redacts the twist ending and just Men-In-Black’s it out of everyone’s memory. Which is bogus. Because redacting it takes away all of the meaning. When the twist comes in BtVS, it’s radical, and feminist, and smacks of Michel Foucoult’s theory about the redistribution of power. Not so in Rebel Belle. The whole thing was just Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in Georgia instead of California. It’s all been done before.
If you loved Buffy, like I did, there are much better books out there written by authors who feel the same way. You could read the Beautiful Creatures series by Buffy fan Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Kami’s such a big fan that she named her dogs Spike and Oz. Here they are, dressed up for Halloween.
Or you could delve into The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. But I wouldn’t read Rebel Belle. Even when it wasn’t trying too hard to be Buffy, it reminded me of Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy (a take on the Persephone myth) — which I also didn’t like.
Plus, one of the first sentences spoken by a guy you’re supposed to swoon over contains the word “testicles.” Yeah, I’m all set.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 slices of Hummingbird Cake.