Saturday, February 1, 2014

Review: Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Hex Hall was a likable book, which surprised me. Usually, I'm wary of the whole witches and warlocks plot, because I feel like they always end up being cheesy stories about young teens casting spells etc., but this one put a unique spin on the idea of witches and warlocks. 

Our protagonist, Sophie is sent to a reform school for supernatural beings after a spell with good intentions goes awry. Due to the risk she presents of revealing the secret of her kind, she sent to "Hex Hall," to learn to control her abilities until she turns 18. Unfortunately, this school is nothing like Hogwarts, as the students aren't there to learn magic, they're there to learn about all the terrible deaths a witch could endure if she is found out. Pretty happy subject material. Besides that, she needs to deal with not falling in love with the hottest boy on campus, surviving the mean girls, and avoiding a gruesome death by "The Eye" aka a terrorist organization against supernatural beings. 

I'd say Sophie is your standard teen girl, with the exception of the magical abilities. While she was a benevolent and strong character in some cases, as we see when she casts a spell to give a girl her perfect prom date, she doesn't realize the extent of her own abilities. This tends to get a little annoying as she is a little too trusting of those around her. There were points in the book where I was thinking, "Hasn't anyone told you about Stranger Danger. Hello?" Of course, the naivete fosters the process of "finding themselves" that YA characters go through, but I feel she could have been more mature in her decision making skills, as she was in high school, but that's just a personal opinion. I would definitely say this book is more upper middle-school level, than high school, so maybe the people in those grades think high schoolers act like she does, who knows?

Still, I liked the plot element of the reform school. It reminded me a little of Gallagher Girls with a darker mood. Rather than espionage, the subject is magic, the story has the same feel of a girl in a boarding school trying to uncover secrets about her past. I'm certain fans of that series would like this book as well. Overall, this book ended up being a better read than I had initially expected. I will be continuing the series, just to see how the story-line plays out. 

Overall Rating: ★★★ 3 stars 

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