REVIEW: FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson

firefightHi everyone–long time no post! Once again I was asked to to be a guest writer on Girls in Capes–this time to write a review of FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson, the sequel to STEELHEART.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Reckoners series, it’s a YA post-apocalyptic fantasy that takes place in a world similar to our own. Ten years ago a burst in the sky called Calamity gave people extraordinary powers. These people–called Epics–have the power to do anything from manipulating electricity to transforming into pigeons. You’d think that a world filled with people who have super powers would be great a place to live, right? Wrong! Apparently, with great power comes great desire to destroy and crush mankind’s will. Society as we know it crumbled under the might of the High Epics (those with top-tier powers) and now the remaining humans struggle to survive in a world where their “rulers” don’t really care if they live or die.

The series centers around David, a young man after revenge. When he was a boy, David watched the Epic called Steelheart murder his father and since that day has dedicated his life to studying Epics and their weaknesses. Thanks to his knowledge, he’s able to join a group of rebels called the Reckoners, trained citizens who have vowed to liberate humankind by killing every last Epic. But David quickly learns that things aren’t so black and white. There’s more to the Epics’ powers than he previously thought, and the closer he gets to the truth behind Calamity, the more he begins to question what really makes a super villain a villain…

*AHEM* Anyway, here’s a teaser from the review:

Even though FIREFIGHT takes place in the same universe as STEELHEART, Babylon is a completely different world, complete with half-submerged skyscrapers, luminescent fruit, glowing graffiti, and a water manipulating jet pack. The result leads you to believe you’re almost going through a post-apocalyptic wardrobe, landing in a city that borders on the fantasy line of speculative fiction. This setting made the perfect backdrop for David’s character as he begins investigate the truth behind Calamity — a truth that once revealed, will destroy everything you thought you learned in STEELHEART.

Is FIREFIGHT worth the read? Oh yes. Really want to know why? Go check out the full review on Girls in Capes! They’re also doing a giveaway. Contest ends on February 22, 2015.


Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Published: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
Pages: 384 (hardcover)
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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. With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more. –Goodreads

Alright, so let me be the first to admit that Rebel Belle is a bit deceiving. At a glance, you might think you’re in for something sweet, silly, and lighthearted—your usual bubble-gum paranormal romance. And it is. Kinda. For like…the first five pages or so, just before Harper Price, regular lip gloss-wearing Homecoming-obsessed teen, is forced to kill a dude with a shoe. A pink high-heeled shoe in a girls’ bathroom, to be specific. Granted, it was in self-defense, but still. Sorta slaps that sugary expectation right out of you, no?

Anyway, after the attack Harper inherits powers and becomes a Paladin, the next in a long line of guardians now responsible for protecting David Stark, who may or may not be her high school nemesis and key to earth’s destruction. Quickly, the story evolves into one about friendship, trust, and stepping up to accept the responsibility to do what’s right when you have the power to do so.

Shoe-induced deaths aside, there is so much to appreciate about this book. It’s completely original, the world-building well-fleshed out yet surprisingly easy to digest despite its complexity. “Paladin” is word rarely seen in YA lit, but the way Hawkins has integrated her magic system into Harper’s world is so flawless it feels almost easy, leading one to wonder why paladins aren’t already more popular. Learning about the different kinds of magic, the Paladins’ position and place in history, and Harper’s new role as a guardian is an adventure in itself, one that unfolds naturally with twisty reveals up until the very end. Truly, if you’re interested in unique low fantasy, it doesn’t get better than this.

Even Harper, as preppy perfect as she may come off at first (the result of working very hard to win at life), is unique, especially in our world where readers are still quick to embrace the Katniss kind of “strong” heroine. For lack of a better word, Harper is girly, a real Southern belle, but unwilling to shy away from danger or doing what needs to be done to protect those in her life. She cares deeply about people, and some scenes are so saturated with FRIENDSHIP that it’s two hugs away from being gross. In addition, true to Hawkins’ personal writing style, Harper comes with a dry sense of humor that’s hard not to appreciate regardless of your regular taste in comedy, especially when she’s with David.

Romance-wise, just by reading the description you can guess who Harper is going to be kissing by the end of the book, but how the romance develops might be surprising because…because….well, it ISN’T rushed. David himself is a character that’s just as unique and well-developed as Harper. He’s not the expected “dark and mysterious” boy with sculpted muscles, piercing eyes, and love-at-first-sight oily magnetism. He’s David, a journalist hipster with posters of Middle-earth on his walls and an attitude to rival Harper’s. The two make an unusual pair but they’re far from forced, growing together as the mystery that is Paladin History unfolds. You believe in their friendship before you believe in the romance, which is always the kind of love I hope to find in YA lit.

I really could go on and on about this book, but I think I’ve gushed long enough to make my point. TL;DR, the bottom line is that Rebel Belle is a must-read for those looking for a low fantasy book with a lot of plot and character development (but is still easy to follow), humor, and a promise of darker magic in the next installment. Trust me, you’ll be craving sweet tea and the sequel when you’re done!

Rating: 5 spoons