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Paging: A Badass

In Tamora Pierce’s Page, Kel won’t let anything—people, her own shortcomings, or circumstances—keep her from accomplishing her dreams.

Paging: A Badass

BOOK REPORT for Page (Protector Of The Small #2) by Tamora Pierce

Cover Story: Trick Of The Eye
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Empowering
Bonus Factors: S.I.N.G., Friendship
Relationship Status: Admirer

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the second book in the Protector Of The Small series, so if you haven’t read the previous one, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up in the library by the pool with the first book before continuing.

Cover Story: Trick Of The Eye

So this is certainly just me, but every time I see a thumbnail version of this cover or just casually glance past it, I think that Kel is standing on the deck of a ship, not a cliff, holding on to a sail line, not a spear. I have literally no idea why I think this. Does my brain secretly want to go yachting? (I’d be down for that, brain. You don’t need to trick me.)

The Deal:

Kel spent her summer safe in the knowledge that she could return to the castle to complete her next round of page training. Right away, she starts earning her “Protector of the Small” mantle as she rescues a naughty dog, Jump, from being in the cook’s next mincemeat pie and acquires a personal maid—a shy young woman who has been abused and harassed for, well, daring to be an attractive woman—as a favor to one of the castle servants.

Over the next three years, Kel experiences all sorts of new adventures—bandit fights, first crushes, conquering her fears, even earning the respect of Lord Wyldon—but she’s always turning an eye to the next phase of her training, hoping that if she passes her final exams that some knight will take a chance on the only girl and make her their squire. Despite the growing acceptance Kel begins to earn from the rest of her fellow pages, there’s always some out there who don’t want to see a female succeed. Can Kel keep true to her values and still earn her spot as a squire?

BFF Charm: Yay

Kel gets even more personality as she gets older, coming out of her shell with her friends and finding her voice as a leader. She earns their respect yet finds it surprising when people begin to rely on her, like the first years requesting pointers on their technique or the boys wanting her to give them a once-over when their wear their dress outfits. She knows her short-comings and strives to work on them, some with more success than others. I also enjoyed her matter-of-fact way of dismissing haters:

The older boy fought her grip. “Gods curse it, Kel, you heard what he said!”
“I heard a fart,” Kel said grimly. “You know where those come from. Let it go.”

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Kel is almost fourteen by the time the book ends, and she’s beginning to gain more awareness of the fact that she’s surrounded by potential hotties. Neal, being a smart, funny, loyal, albeit slightly dramatic cutie, is a natural first crush for dear Kel, but she carries that torch in silence. Then there’s also Cleon, whose teasing went from silly to flirty so gradually that inexperienced Kel is completely unaware of it.

Talky Talk: Empowering

This book zooms through Kel’s remaining page years with more speed than the first in the series, but it does a nice job of highlighting important moments and setting things up for the remaining two novels. Tamora’s style of writing is smooth and easygoing; I flew through this book in a few afternoons and found myself just as geared up as Kel for what would come next. Yet despite this being a quick read, Tamora still takes the time to fill her fantasy world with important topics like violence against women, getting your first period, overcoming crippling fears, and speaking up for others’ rights.

Bonus Factor: S.I.N.G.

So Lalasa, Kel’s maid, has had a rough go of it. She was abused by her family and then constantly accosted as a palace maid by gentry who think they are beholden to her body because they are in a position of power. Kel knows she can’t be around every moment of the day, so she teaches Lalasa some self-defense moves that anyone can do, and the scene had me thinking of Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock uses Benjamin Pratt as her faux attacker and teaches the audience where to hit: solar plexus, instep, nose, groin.

Bonus Factor: Friendship

This novel feels more focused on character interactions than big plot points. I liked learning more about the other pages/squires in the program, and spending more time on moments like Owen’s goofy hero-worship of Kel and how it exasperated her, or Kel’s first female friendship with Lalasa, a person whose meekness at first confounded her.

Relationship Status: Admirer

There’s a lot about you, Book, that I admire, but I also never want to step into your shoes; your job is hard work, and I am, frankly, way lazier than that. But good on you for being awesome!

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Page is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.