Putnam Juvenile, $17.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 0399256938, April 2014
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.
You can’t accuse this Buffy-meets-Steel-Magnolias romp of being deep, but by golly, it’s fun! A modern day Southern belle must balance cotillion practice with her newfound super powers and mission to protect the annoying hipster boy she’s wanted to strangle since elementary school. The plot’s insanely farfetched, the love-hate relationship’s predictable, and Harper’s guilt over not sharing her new troubles with her BFF is a bit overwrought, but it all adds up to a funny and fun rapid read.
I do think the choice of Stark as a surname for the hero is unfortunate, especially if the author is going to mention Marvel. Every time I saw the name Stark, I thought of Tony Stark, and I found it distracting. Teens who have grown up with the Iron Man movies may have the same reaction, but it’s a minor quibble.
Recommend to: Fans of heroines who literally kick butt
To buy or not to buy: Great choice for public library YA collections