Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2)
by Rachel Hawkins
Putnam Juvenile, 2015
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]
Previous Installment: Rebel Belle
NOTE: Summary contains spoilers for Rebel Belle.
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.
Rebel Belle was one of my favorite books of 2014, so obviously I was extremely excited to read the sequel. The summary hinted at lots of action with the mention of the trials Harper would need to complete, but failed to tell me that – unfortunately – this book would be mostly filler, with lots of boy/girl Drama (and yes, that capital letter is “totes” warranted). And yet, I still found myself engaged and interested and curious to see how things would play out. I liked this Harper – someone not quite as put together as we’d come to expect, who is dealing with FAR too much on her plate and also having to face a few of her flaws – and dug the strong female friendship between her and Bee. David and Harper kind of broke my heart a bit (or, okay, a lot I guess), but I liked that this thing – which is so important to Harper – didn’t come easy and wasn’t easily fixed. But mostly, I liked that this book kind of went in an unexpected direction, and while it hurt me as a reader, it also made me extremely interested to see what’s going to come next.
One thing I think this series as a whole excels at is girl power and positive female portrayals. All of the lady characters – from Harper’s classmates to her aunts to the other females featured throughout the book in various places – are treated with respect. There are no slurs, no negative nicknames for anyone, and I actually find that extremely refreshing. Harper isn’t perfect – she’s a meddler and rather controlling and wants things the way she wants them – but she isn’t negative towards the other girls in her life, even if she doesn’t necessarily like them. I also like her strong bond with Bee, the relationship she has with the Aunts, and the regular, normal home life she shares with her parents. Compared to other books I’ve read, that normalcy is just really awesome to see and read about.
Now all that being said, this book kind of felt unnecessary in some ways, because nothing really happens. I mean, the summary hints at the trials Harper will have to go through to fully become David’s Paladin, and yes, things happen to her, but the bigger issue here is the fact that Harper comes to realize some hard truths, and they’re ones she really doesn’t like. You sort of get to see the problems inherent with being in a relationship with the Oracle, and also the issues that come with having your ex-boyfriend be a part of this strange and necessary triangle. Harper doesn’t handle things the way she should, but then again, neither does David. There were definitely times where I kind of wanted to bang their heads together in frustration. Likewise, Bee and Ryan added a whole other dynamic, and I didn’t necessarily like all of that, either. So while I found this book to be extremely readable – once I sat myself down and applied myself, I was done really quickly with it, just like I was with Rebel Belle – there were definitely things that frustrated me, even if the book overall was well written with great characters and wonderful pacing. Ah, well. Can’t have it all, I guess!
Also, I want to warn that folks probably aren’t going to like the ending of this one. I didn’t, that’s for sure, although I probably should have seen it coming. Just be prepared!
All in all, I enjoyed Miss Mayhem, although probably not as much as I did the first book. Harper does some growing and realizing, and I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as completely put together and near-perfect this time around. There is plenty to like here, but also things that frustrated me, as seen in this review. If you liked Rebel Belle you’ll definitely want to read it; the ending is left kind of open and ambiguous, but it helps to know there’s a third book coming. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to seeing what Rachel Hawkins has in store!