Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #2
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Overview: Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on 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 make her more powerful than ever.
I want to start out by saying that I love Rachel Hawkins and think her writing is some of the most charming I’ve ever come across. Everything she writes is a lot of fun, and I can’t help but get a bunch of feel goods every time I read one of her books. That said, Miss Mayhem might be my least favorite thing I’ve read from her so far. I just didn’t think there was enough substance and plot advancement to really grab me. Perhaps if the trilogy were complete and I devoured it from start to finish I wouldn’t feel this way, but after waiting a full year for its release and looking at another full year before the conclusion, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
Thing I love most about the first book was the developing love story, but this one just didn’t seem to have the same sweet, romantic flair. I’ve noticed a prevailing trend in YA that goes a little something like this: Book 1 – romance sparks and the characters fall for each other. Book 2 – they fight or break up because of situation “x” keeping them from being together. Book 3 – they figure out how to make it work anyway and live happily ever after. It’s so formulaic that it sucks all of the romantic tension out of a series. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but in this particular case it felt like the entire plot revolved around romantic struggles… I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was hoping for more.
And even the plot elements that were there weren’t developed as well as I thought they could’ve been. For example, at some point Harper had to go through several trials to prove she was a worthy Paladin. The trouble is, the trials did not come across in any sort of official capacity, but were almost incidental. I’m not really sure why she passed/failed because the rules were never established. What a wasted opportunity! I feel like if I had read about an epic, well-conceived testing of Harper’s skills, all of my other objections would have gone by the wayside in a heartbeat. Instead I’m left wondering what could’ve been…
One last thing I didn’t enjoy was the questionable decision-making within this book. Some of Harper’s choices just did not make any sense to me. Her decisions were irrational, erratic, and didn’t follow any sort of logical pattern… Frankly, her actions felt more like they were implemented to advance plot points, rather than because that’s what the character would actually do. I’m not saying the characters always have to make smart decisions, what I’m saying is I’d better be able to at least see the logic of those decisions over other options. Harper is a smart girl, but I don’t feel like her actions were consistent with her character in this book.
Sheesh, I feel like I’m really beating up on this book, which isn’t totally fair because it was not a bad book by any means – Hawkins has just set such a high standard up to this point that I’m really judging it against what I know she’s capable of. If you want to know all the things I really love about the series, check out my review of the first book, Rebel Belle. Overall, I wouldn’t necessarily dissuade anyone from picking up the series – the first one was good enough in my opinion to allow for forgiveness of the second one… I would just recommend waiting a little bit until the release date for the third one gets closer. I will definitely be finishing out the trilogy, so that’s gotta count for something, right?
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