One can always count on Rachel Hawkins to deliver great doses of fun and charming entertainment, as well as reliable, engaging heroines that are realiOne can always count on Rachel Hawkins to deliver great doses of fun and charming entertainment, as well as reliable, engaging heroines that are realistic, strong and very easy to root for. Sure, her stories are not exactly a fountain of originality and, truth be told, there's very little substance behind all the fluff, but her books never fail to remind me that it's perfectly acceptable to think a book's good even when it is solely pure entertainment and it doesn't take itself too seriously. But ultimately, while this one was certainly fun, it failed to live up to the promise of the first one.
Rebel Belle was a bit of a surprise for me because, although I already expected to be entertained, I did not expect the brain candy to also be absolutely badass and engaging the way it turned out to be. There were many elements about the story that I expected to be irritated by, but, somehow, it all turned out great. So I had some expectations of Miss Mayhem, and though it certainly delivered the appropriate levels of fun and sassyness, Miss Mayhem seem to just stumble along from beginning to end, balancing on a very thin thread of a plot that felt like a filler in the series.
Miss Mayhem was slightly similar to Rebel Belle in content. School drama, love triangle issues, BFF complications and a single social even where hell breaks loose, but, somehow, it wasn't as engaging as the first one, mostly because this one felt forced to some degree. The story felt slightly disjointed from what the first one had already established, not because it didn't follow the original, but because it didn't flow naturally from it. By giving it a similar structure to the first one, this one felt repetitive and, truth be told, rather pointless.
I didn't connect with the characters in this one, made harder by how supremely exasperating and silly they were at points, and their issues seemed overdramatic and ridiculous to me. Their actions didn't go with the characters, which means that for most of the novel, the characterization was all over the place and all so that specific events could happen to turn up the teenage angst to the max. For some reason, the love triangle kept shifting back and forth, turning into a love square and changing parts out of nowhere. Most characters didn't even play an important role in the story when it came down to it, and they all seemed to run around in circles with no idea where they were supposed to go, just hoping for the whole thing to be over. There was just something missing from the group dynamic and the whole thing just ended up feeling forced. Every single obstacle in their way felt deliberately placed there and that made it really hard to feel invested in these characters and their story because the whole thing felt contrived and strained, very much like this was a middle book and some things absolutely needed to be set for the big finale no matter what.
I don't feel like this novel contributed much to be mythology at work in this story, nor to the characterization of the main cast. The antagonist in this one felt cliched and didn't participate much in the story, and the conflict behind the novel was very unfulfilling, half-baked and anti-climactic as it was. Additionally, the writing was definitely not Hawkins best.
Unfortunately, Miss Mayhem was yet another victim of the middle book syndrome. It failed to meet the effortless entertainment and cleverness of the first one, and it's nothing more than an obvious, shaky platform for the third one. As a sequel, it's weak and unsatisfying, by itself it's flawed and rather pointless. It admittedly offers enough mindless entertainment and fun that works great with its short length and lighthearted content, but as a whole, the novel falls short from what it should've been. ...more