Friday, April 17, 2015

Rebel by Willo Davis Roberts, 2003

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Her name was Amanda Jane Keeling, but from the time she was two, everyone called her Rebel. Rebel's first word was "No!" And it was downhill from there. As a toddler she resisted strained spinach and potty training. At five, she refused to go to kindergarten. Now at fourteen, she has toned down her rebellious streak somewhat, but whenever faced with a challenge she still feels the need to confront it head on, despite the opinions or advice of others.
When Rebel and her friend Moses -- the only boy she's ever met who can match her in both wit and height -- witness some strange goings-on, instead of going straight to the police, they decide to investigate the matters themselves. A bizarre robbery, an open door in the middle of the night, muddy footprints...all these clues lead Rebel and Moses to more questions than answers. But still they won't go for help. Little do they know the danger that awaits them....

(153 pages)

This was a book swap find, which I only picked up because it was free. It provided an entertaining hour or two but was not a groundbreaker in any sense of the word.

Roberts does an excellent job of simply "dropping" us into the lives of the people we're reading about. They feel just like real people - a little smart, a little naiive, a little awkward, and a little insecure.

Rebel is really tall for a girl (5"10') and doesn't like to admit that her height makes her nervous about ever finding a spouse (you know, down the road. Like any fourteen-year-old, she wants to get a head's start on picking a mate). She comes across extremely pushy in the teaser, and lives up to her nickname in the first chapter or two. Rebel quickly mellows out into a fairly normal MC by the time the action really picks up speed; she definitely speaks her mind, but is not nearly as obnoxiously rebellious as you'd expect from the synopsis. She's actually a bit insecure because of her height, and is really happy that Moses is taller than her. What I enjoyed about her is that she is so excellently characterized that it doesn't even feel like it should be labelled "characterization."

Moses, or Mo for short, is also very tall and often feels oppressed by his business-minded father. He's not a dramatic hero, or a lone rebel. He's just a teenager with a passion for something not very financially secure, with parents who don't support it. He did annoy me sometimes with his constant obsessing over his video camera, but then again, I've been known to obsess over things too. And I'm sure it annoyed my parents far more than Mo annoyed me.

Praises aside, this is not going on my top-ten favorites list. In fact, I doubt I'll ever read it again. I liked Rebel and Mo, and I enjoyed watching them solve the mystery (slow as they may sometimes have been at it), but Rebel is nothing to go back and re-read. It's the kind of book you read because you're sick of unrealistic, idealistic heroes you could never live up to. I didn't even realize I needed a break from them until I read Rebel! If you see a used copy of this at a thrift store, then I definitely suggest taking it home to read. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother hunting for it.

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