Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

“A lady never starts a fight… but she’ll finish it”

“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”

Harper Jane Price is the perfect Southern belle. She is anticipating being crowned Homecoming Queen for Grove Academy. Arriving fashionable late for the dance, she enters the school with her longtime, handsome boyfriend, Ryan, her best friend, Bee and Brandon, Bee’s boyfriend. While waiting on the boys to finish parking the car, Bee remarks that Harper’s lips are nekkid. Knowing that she must remedy the situation before the Queen is announced, she tells Ryan that she will be right back. Walking through the quiet hallways of the school, she bumps into her worse enemy, David Stark. He has repeatedly slammed her in the school newspaper. Harper is the SGA president and he thinks she is too cliquey instead of being concerned about social issues. Having loathed him since daycare, he was the only child she ever bit; she attempts to be civil since his aunt is in charge of the Cotillion. Sparring with one another, they notice that the music has stopped. David tells her to run along and fix her lip gloss for her crowning. They part ways and Harper heads for the bathroom. She is applying the second coat of gloss when the door slams open. In stumbles the school custodian, Mr. Hall. He locks the door behind him.

Harper notices that he is bleeding heavily from his abdomen. She tries to help him. Mr. Hall opens his shirt and removes a pillow. She then notices the rest of his appearance. He is wearing an elaborate disguise and turns out to be quite handsome. None the less, he is still mortally wounded. He asks her name and comments that she runs the school. He needs her to protect and make sure that he is okay. The door begins to rattle and Mr. Hall says that he is there; he apologizes to Harper and presses his mouth onto hers. Struggling, she feels something icy flow into her mouth and down her throat. Harper begins to slip into darkness and thinks her parents will be devastated to lose another daughter. Harper regains her strength and looks at Mr. Hall’s wound. She thinks it could have been made with a medieval sword. Harper is about to leave when she remembers that she dropped her lip gloss in the sink and goes back to get it. Good thing because the door explodes inward.
She looks up to see her World History teacher, Dr. DuPont, in the doorway, holding a medieval sword. He enters and puts the sword against her neck. With her newfound strength, she grabs the sword and lowers it. Then, she head butts him. Dr. DuPont laughs remarking that he passed it onto her. He says that a worse choice couldn’t be made. After all, she wrote her paper on the history of shoes. He remarks that she is going to use her new super powers to become head cheerleader. She already is and kicks him in the jaw, knocking him down. The fight isn’t over and Dr. DuPont strikes back. He picks up the sword and Harper thinks that she is going to die. Dr. DuPont is saying something about a Paladin when she notices one of her stilettos. She grabs the shoe and uses the heel to stab him in the carotid artery. He dies and Harper gets cleaned up. With two dead bodies in the bathroom, she hears the announcement for the Homecoming Queen Nominees. Running, she realizes that she is going to be sick and heads into the boys’ bathroom. Throwing up in one of the stalls, a boy cries out. He comes up behind her, holding her hair back. He gets her some wet towels. She turns around to find that the mysterious boy is none other than David Stark. 

David makes a comment about her being pregnant but she glares and says no. She thanks him but he is curious about her being sick. He knows that she hasn’t been drinking but with that gleam in his eye, she knows that he is looking for something to contribute to her downfall. He turns to go but Harper stops him. He cannot see what’s left of the girls’ bathroom. She thanks him again and he is out the door. Hearing him walk away, Harper is confused. Looking out the door, she sees no sign of the battle she was just a part of. Harper is shaken and makes a high pitched sound. David comes back to check on her. He is genuinely concerned by her dishelmed appearance. Before she can tell him what happened, Bee and some other girls bust in. Harper was crowned Homecoming Queen and they have brought her the tiara. The girls and David trade barbs and he leaves. Harper tells them that she was sick. When Ryan takes her home, she asks him about schizophrenia since he wrote a paper on it for AP Psychology. He admits that he copied a paper his older brother wrote. They argue but soon make up. Harper is distracted, especially when Ryan apologizes her ripping her dress. (She actually tore it in the fight with Dr. DuPont) Ryan goes home and Harper sets out to prove if the night’s events really happened or if she is truly crazy. After discovering that she has been gifted with agility, super strength and impeccable fighting abilities, she scours the Internet for more information.  In one article, she notices the word Paladin. It is what Dr. DuPont called her in the bathroom. She finds out that Paladins are warriors and protectors, “charged with safeguarding a specific person or place.” She begins to wonder what Mr. Hall and now she must protect.

Why did Dr. DuPont kill Mr. Hall? What happens when Harper finds out that David Stark is the person she must protect at all costs? Why is he so important to need protection? Who is out to harm him? Will Harper to able to assume her new role? How will it affect her social life? Can she and David put aside their differences to work together? And are they really enemies or is something else brewing beneath the surface?

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