by Rachel Hawkins
I'm not sure if I made a mistake reading this right now, because I stupidly went into it thinking it was a standalone novel when it's actually the first in a trilogy (I've been trying not to read any new series recently until I get through ones I already own)... But, I regret nothing. Because I loved the book, really loved it.Summary: 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.
It was fun and funny and cute and had a cast of characters that I pretty much adored. And, the best part is that it's a very feminist book. Harper is a stereotypically girly girl -- she likes fashion and make-up and dressing up for school dances, and she's popular and a cheerleader...and she's also intelligent and driven and kind and fierce and strong. She becomes totally kick ass without changing who she really is, and I loved that.
Basically, it reminded me of what I loved about Legally Blonde and shows/movies like Buffy, where the female characters may toughen up and their experiences do have an impact on them but they don't start shunning their femininity to be taken seriously as a kick ass heroine. So many books and movies (and people) treat femininity and strength (especially physical) as if they're mutually exclusive traits in and I have a lot of respect for the authors that don't do that, because stereotypically feminine traits aren't a sign of weakness, as much as society has ingrained that into us.
...And before this review turns into more feminist rant than review, I'll get back on track: I loved the other characters too. I loved that it wasn't catty, I loved that it had parents who actually parent and that it had a love triangle that felt genuine and didn't vilify one of the guys to make the other more appealing. I really, really loved that the guys respected her -- they didn't treat her like a damsel in distress, she had faith in her abilities and so did they and... Yeah. So much character love going on here.
I think that's about enough gushing for one review. Basically, Rachel Hawkins is a fabulous author and I'm ashamed this is only the second of her books that I've read (will remedy that soon), and this book is multiple kinds of awesome and adorable. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.