Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #2 (2/3)
Published by Putnam Juvenile on April 7, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
2.5 Stars, Completed March 15, 2016
– only read bold text to avoid major SPOILERS –
I am seriously so bummed to share that this was a very underwhelming sequel to the spectacularly hilarious and charming Rebel Belle.
Miss Mayhem takes place roughly four months after the events of book one. David, Harper’s now boyfie (Harper’s creative way of saying “boyfriend” hehe), has passed the Oracle test on the night of the Cotillion. The damage of that night has temporarily been patched up by Ryan, Harper’s ex-boyfriend and now David’s assisting Mage. Bee, Harper’s best friend, has finally returned from her mysterious disappearance since the fateful night. And the Ephors are suspiciously quiet. So things have reached a somewhat state of normalcy for Harper-well, almost. Harper soon learns that she has to go through trials herself before she can qualify as a true Paladin. And if she refuses or fails she’ll die. Not much at stake, right?
Black sheep status will be strong in this review. Most likely it’s going to include every single unpopular opinion possible. Sigh, here goes.
The first thing I noticed with Miss Mayhem at first glance was how short it was. And to my dismay there wasn’t much substance to the story until the halfway mark. The first half was sluggish and quite repetitive.
I appreciated that there were some more explanation with the mythology behind the use of Oracles, Paladins, and Mages in the world which was missing in the first installment. But, aside from that, not much happens in the first half of Miss Mayhem. Instead there’s a lot of teenage drama and sulking.
“No idea why everyone is working so hard to protect me when I’m not exactly worth much.”
It was the second time he’d said something like that, and I still didn’t like it.
You and me both, Harper. From what I can recall David was snarky and sarcastic in book one, but, from the start of Miss Mayhem, David was excessively mopey. I get that he has a lot going on with figuring out his new powers but he was oddly out of character with this book in my opinion.
And this also affected my thoughts on the central romance. I am probably the 1% of readers that did not find Harper and David’s ship go cannon in Rebel Belle but that didn’t mean I entirely hated them as a couple or as individuals either. In fact, I loved Harper’s sassy and genuine attitude in Rebel Belle. She was simply so hilarious and entertaining as a narrator, which is pretty rare. (I tend to love a lot of ya lit but detest the female narrators for their unreliability, naivety, etc.) So it hurt me to find one of my favorite protagonists become the kind I hate with this installment. Harper was so insensitive and selfish. After all that has been pushed upon her, I can understand her paranoia but in her confusion with the events at hand she became super controlling to those around her. And I hated that she became such an unpleasant character, which is also so unlike her.
It may be a bit ironic that the book didn’t turn around for me until Harper and David decided to take a “break” and split ways romantically. Relationships need to have some trials here and there. And I thought Rebel Belle had a rushed romance since Harper and David were archenemies prior to becoming a couple, but I knew this was going to be slated a series. I predicted there was no way there could already be a HEA on the romance front. So I was expecting the strain on the relationship to emerge in this one. I’m glad their relationship took this turn. Maybe it can help lead to character growth.
But this book had a lot of predictable story arcs. Another one I saw coming and fervently hoped that it wouldn’t for its cliché quality actually ended up happening. Ryan was painted as the perfect boyfriend. He’s dependable, understanding, loyal, and steadfast, but he, too, felt like he was out of character in Lady Mayhem for the decisions he makes. The characters were so oddly inconsistent (compared to Rebel Belle); this made me so frustrated because the cast was so fab in book one.
However, a 2 star review doesn’t mean this was an entirely bad book. There were parts especially towards the latter half, where the pace and storyline really picked up, that I really enjoyed.
Deep-fried Oreos were sent from heaven to prove God loves us.
Maybe I don’t like deep fried oreos but that’s such typical southern fair food. I love that Hawkins depicts living in the south so perfectly: southern drawls, iced sweet tea, homey sweets, and bad drivers.
Something to admire is the role reversal in both this book and the first. It’s refreshing that this series has the girl doing the saving and the boy is the guy in distress. I love that it tackles common gender stereotypes and deflects social stigmas in a discreet and inventive way. Another nice plus readers get are the fight scenes Harper performs; she’s totally badass and Summer approved in those moments.
And, contrary to how most readers probably felt, I was really fond of the semi-cliffhanger/finalized ending. I know a lot of readers probably disliked it because it sort of ruins the shipping of the main couple. And perhaps it could have been interpreted as a finalized, never after conclusion. But I found it to be the key to save Miss Mayhem and make the next installment sound so promising. There was just exactly a healthy dose of intrigue and suspense without making it too unbearable.
All in all, Miss Mayhem lacked the entertainment I got from its predecessor but I’d say die-hard fans of Rebel Belle wouldn’t want to miss this installment since a lot does happen in the latter half. And the semi-cliffhanger has really set up a pretty solid resolution for the trilogy I think. Even though I was disappointed with this, I’m really looking forward to Lady Renegades. I have my fingers crossed for a magnificent finale.
Special thanks to Putnam Juvenile for providing me this generous finished copy of Miss Mayhem and sending over the series giveaway widget so I can feature on my blog. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.
Also Penguin was kind enough to allow me to share their giveaway (thank you, again, Penguin team!), so if you guys are interested please consider entering the giveaway.
Rebel Belle GIVEAWAY!
- U.S. residents only (sorry!)
- Ends on Friday, March 25, 2016
- 1 winner gets to receive a finished copy of REBEL BELLE, MISS MAYHEM, LADY RENEGADES, and a Penguin Teen tote bag
- Penguin is hosting this. They are completely in charge with contacting the winner and sending out the giveaway items. Xingsings will not be responsible for lost or damaged goods
- Good luck!