Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy > Paranormal
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
Would I recommend? Not particularly.
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I went into this book expecting a light, fun, entertaining read with a little bit of pizzazz to distinguish it from the other light, fun, entertaining reads out there. I did get the lightness and the entertainment, but I didn’t get that extra umph I was looking for. As you may know by now, I’m in a pretty bad reading slump- I picked this up in the hopes that this would be a quick read that would get me reading again. And I’ll give this book that; it was super quick. I read it in under two days, and I sort of felt like picking something up immediately after it, which is more than I can say for any other book I’ve read over the past couple of months. Despite my gratitude, I can’t give this book a rating higher than it deserves.
Harper Price is all set to win her Homecoming tiara, and everything is going wonderfully. Until her best friend tells her that she’s not wearing any lip gloss! Hurriedly, Harper makes her way to her high school bathroom because she has to look perfect when she accepts her crown. But her life is changed forever when Harper is ‘blessed’ with superpowers and a huge responsibility by the school janitor.
Just reading that synopsis promises a silly, funny little book. And it was. But not in a great way. I found myself chuckling at some parts. But I wouldn’t say it was LOL worthy like a lot of people had promised. The humor just wasn’t my cup of tea; I prefer biting, sarcastic humor, and the humor in this was just… silly. And again, I don’t mean this in a good way. Imagine a very cliché high school contemporary set in a somewhat-fantasy-centered surrounding. I thought the world-building took a backseat, for the most part, as Hawkins focused her attention on less important things like unnecessary romances and unbelievable relationships. Some of the explanations given for why things were the way they were felt rushed, and I found myself rolling my eyes for the most part. The romance, albeit slow-burning and not insta-lovey at all, didn’t sit well with me because Harper was already in a relationship- and if you know anything about me, that shit just doesn’t appeal to me at all.
Again, this book is very fast-paced, and it is entertaining. So if you want to read a pick-me-up vanilla novel without anything else in it, this would be perfect for you. But don’t expect it to be anything but that.
What I liked the most about this book was the protagonist and the love interest. Note, I mean I liked them as individual characters, even though I didn’t love the romance between them. Harper is an interesting character- she’s definitely not what you expect a leading fantasy heroine to be in a world filled with wannabe Katnisses. She’s very focused on being lady-like. She’s poised, loves a good ruffly dress, and can kill you with the high heels she’s wearing. I would have loved to see her superpowers explored a little more, to see her struggle a little more with what was going on with her. I felt like the author jumped head-first into the situation and then didn’t expand on it.
David Stark was a wonderful character. I really enjoyed the sharp contrast between him and Harper. His nerdiness was refreshing, and I really liked the ongoing banter between Harper and David. He was smart and snarky, and I really liked him.
For the most part, the secondary characters felt like backdrop cardboard figures. Harper’s best friend, Bee, was very unrealistic– even by the end (despite the author’s insistences that the two just got each other), I didn’t know why Harper and Bee were even friends? While Harper enjoyed a good outfit, she wasn’t shallow- and Bee just seemed like a vapid beauty queen with absolutely no substance. I thought Harper’s parents were going to play a role (even if it was a small one), but no, they just disappeared halfway through the book. Everyone else was… meh.
See, the thing is, while I appreciate simplicity in writing, I still like some challenges. Metaphors and figurative language and descriptions are all wonderful things if used appropriately. They can make all the difference in the world when they’re done right, but if they’re used in excess (*cough* Tahereh Mafi *cough*), things just start getting annoying. But Hawkins… she needs to use them more. The writing, unfortunately, felt a little immature to me.
The dialogue was very well-done. It felt realistic and I could almost hear the characters talking. The voice was good too. The feel was there, but the writing (when looked at critically) could have been so much more.
Overall, I don’t plan on reading the second book, since I’ve heard very mixed feelings about it. Since I didn’t love this one, I don’t see why I should give a sequel that got low reviews a try!