Friday, March 5, 2010

Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title:  Hex Hall
Author:  Rachel Hawkins
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA (paranormal)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN:  1423121309
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 tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire 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. (cover photo & summary from
Overall rating: 9/10 flowers
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Hex Hall is a delightfully funny book about a likable heroine who finds herself sent to an unexpectedly dangerous reform school.  I guessed that I would like this book because of the witches, warlocks, vampires, ghosts, and fey, but it turned out to be the protagonist's ordinary human qualities and sense of humor that totally won me over and made this book a joy to read.

What I Liked:
-     Sophie's sarcastic sense of humor and knack for landing herself in awkward situations kept me laughing page after page.  She is intelligent, stands up to her rivals, and is not a damsel in distress.  She does not spend her time apologizing for who she is, and it is fun to explore Hecate Hall from her point of view.
-     Archer and Sophie have chemistry from the first moment their names appear on the page together, and I found myself hoping he would pop up in every scene, even if it was only to send an unexpected wink or a wicked grin her way.
-     Common boarding school plot elements (like a much-anticipated dance, a trio of mean girls, roommate conflicts, and ugly gym uniforms) could have fallen flat and made this book feel exactly like a billion other boarding school books, but the cliches feel acknowledged and celebrated here, which has the effect of adding to the book's 80's-teen-flick charm rather than detracting from the story.
-     Sophie's personality is pleasant and funny, but the world she lives in is a dangerous one.  There are quite a few twists to be found within this first book and several mysteries are left for further exploration in the next two books.
-     Many paranormal YA novels can be sorted into sub-genres like romantic drama, action-adventure, historical, or urban fantasy, but Hex Hall is a paranormal YA novel that leans toward humorous chick-lit.
What I Wished:
-     I wanted more.  This book was such a light and fun read that the 336 pages flew by and I found myself wishing it was at least 100 pages longer.
Hex Hall blends humor with darkness as Sophie learns about the dangers threatening the inhabitants of this southern boarding school for supernatural misfits.  Fans of  paranormal YA novels like Claudia Gray's Evernight series, Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series, and P.C. & Kristin Cast's House of Night series will want to pick up Hex Hall.  Readers who enjoy funny chick-lit like Meg Cabot's books or Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary may also find a lot to like in Hex Hall.  If you want to learn more about this trilogy or about debut author Rachel Hawkins, please check out Rachel's website, blog, or twitter.

April update:   Blog with Bite is featuring reviews of Hex Hall this month.  Click the banner above to read other bloggers reviews or to submit your own.


Debbie / Cranberry Fries said...

Oh this book sounds delightful! I haven't read much about witches and this seems like a fabulous one to start out with!

Violet said...

It is a fun book, Debbie! I hope you'll love it. :)

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

great review and agree with many of those points too.

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