Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell


Review: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
Goodreads 
Release date: October 1st, 2013
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (Amulet)
Series: No
Source: e-galley from Netgalley, hardcopy from ARCycling
Rating: Cute, emotional, romantic, and feel-sy, if a little convenient at times.

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Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters.


Goodbye, Rebel Blue starts off with a premise practically primed to hold my interest: rebellious Rebel trying to fulfill the bucket-list of do-gooder Kennedy. A barefoot girl trying to force herself into a world wearing shoes. A lonely girl trying to become less lonely. I was surprised at how readable I found this book, and how interesting I found the main character, who has a bit of Katarina Stratford in her, meany she's spiky and standoffish and doing her own thing all on purpose.



I loved Rebel. She's had a tough life. She used to be home-schooled by her photographer mother, and they'd travel all over the world, so to say she had an unconventional, free-spritied upbringing would be an understatement. But one day her mother dies, as fictional mothers are wont to do, and she's sent to live with her very conventional, very non-free-spirited aunt and uncle and cousin. Rebel realizes she doesn't belong, so she does all she can to stand out, to defy boxes, to keep marching to her own 276-piece band. I loved her. She's difficult and snarky and argumentative, which... is why I liked her. She's never shy or afraid, really, and I felt her emotions very keenly.

I also really loved Nate, the love interest. I thought he was ADORABLE (also, he's Latino, and believably so. Yay!). At times he seemed to be a bit of the stereotypical golden boy, but he was so sweet and awkward sometimes that it melted my (and Rebel's) cold dead heart. It was lovely to read about a love interest who's totally, refreshingly good, too. His family was colorful and amusing as well.

The bucket list storyline kicks off (HEE) in detention, where Kennedy Green and Rebel Blue are assigned to write their own bucket lists. Kennedy starts yammering at her about fate and destiny and all kinds of stuff, Rebel is standoffish, and then an hour or two later, Kennedy is dead. The bulk of the story is framed by bluehaired, trouble-making Rebel trying to accomplish all the things on perky, pony-tailed Kennedy's list, like start a charity, adopt a family of leatherback turtles, and perform a random act of kindness every day. Emotional times, shenanigans, meet-cutes, and disasters ensue.

This is a perfect framework to see Rebel grow, and grow she does. It was lovely to see her edges soften, for her to realize that underneath all this rebellious blue, she's really just lonely and feels left out by the world she doesn't belong in. And it's a great excuse for her to spend for time with Nate the Great, which... YAY NATE, YOU CUTIE PATOOTIE, MORE NATE IS GREAT. Plus it leads to hilarious moments where scary-looking Rebel is trying to do actual good and everybody thinks she's up to trouble because, you know, Rebel Blue. I also liked that this book focused on friendship, too: Rebel's growing and mending friendships with shy, pie-making Macey (PIE), her practically perfect Cousin Pen, and her put-together Aunt Evelyn.

What didn't work for me so much were the themes of fate, destiny, luck, kismet, etc. They felt inorganic to the plot, a little heavy-handed, and at times forced. I simply didn't believe a lot of it, and not because I don't believe in a higher power or the fates or whatever. Rebel's not sure she believes in that either, which makes all the rest of it feel doubly schmaltzy, somehow. Rebel also hears Kennedy's voice in her head, which was also a bit strange, and, though amazing, a bit confusing. I mean, is Rebel secretly a parseltongue, and there's some kind of Kennedy basilisk slithering around through the pipes?

"Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world."

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It even really affected me at times, like when Rebel is forced to confront her own mother's death, her underlying emotions, and why she purposefully distances herself from the people around her. I swooned when ought to have swooned, I laughed, I even got the feelsy feels near the ends. It's not an entirely perfect book, but ultimately, it was a lovely little read with a good deal of heart. And now I'm picturing a basilisk with a perky blond ponytail, so obviously I came out of this book a better person.

6 comments:

  1. This one sounds so cute! I like when characters are honest and it sounds like this one has that in spades! So that's a good thing. Also, it sounds like some really funny and really swoony moments happen. I like fun and I like swoon so maybe I'll need to check this one out sooner than later! Great review!

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  2. Oooh, you're really selling me on this one with the 10 Things I Hate About You comparison. I love that movie :)

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  3. I absolutely adore snarky characters! I think that I'll love Rebel as much as you did! Plus, you really got me with that gif from one of my favourite movies ever! Great review!

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  4. I enjoyed Goodbye, Rebel Blue a whole lot too! It gave off a bit of a DCOM vibe to me, but I love stuff like that so it worked. Rebel was a prickly character indeed, but I wound up liking her. Nate, however, was really a guy I liked from the very start -- such a cutie!

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  5. Hmmm, I was worried about this one after some of the early reviews, but this still definitely sounds like a Christina book. So. Yay for that.

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  6. "A rebel with an attitude." I like the sound of that. No wait, I love the sound of that. Even more, I luuurve it. Sassy rebels for everyone.

    Haaa, you're the last person I'd accuse of having a cold dead heart.

    "Plus it leads to hilarious moments where scary-looking Rebel is trying to do actual good and everybody thinks she's up to trouble because, you know, Rebel Blue."

    Lolling all over the place. Hm, the out-of-place faith themes sound a little odd but I think I'm going to give this one a shot. It looks like an interesting (and fun!) read.

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