REVIEW by @GinnyLurock: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (@LadyHawkins)
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 fatherï¿½an elusive European warlockï¿½only 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.
I’m just going to start out with a warning. Do not read the blurb for the second book in this series until AFTER you finish this book. It gives away basically the two major plot points of the book. I don’t know if these were obvious or came as a shock because I already knew based on one paragraph I foolishly read. I wish I could say lesson learned, but I’d totally do it again.
Okay, onto Hex Hall:
Sophie is brilliant, witty, sarcastic, and probably cooler than any 16 year old has the right to be. Archer is the dashing heart throb bad boy. Jenna is shy and misunderstood. Elodie is a total Heather (oh… sorry… the target audience is too young for that reference. ..) “Mean Girl”, Elodie is a total “Mean Girl” with her two witchy friends. Kind of like in The Craft which is another reference the target audience won’t get and now I feel old (is it too late to remove a star from my rating for making me feel old?). Mrs. Carsnoff is the warmish headmistress who refuses to be wrong. Cal is the… well I don’t know, but I’d like to find out… preferably in a scene where he’s cutting wood and saying “as you wish” and not wearing a shirt. (Hey, if I’m going to be made to feel old, at least I can be a lecherous old woman, right?)
The problem is that these characters are pretty much the only ones that have any development in the novel. You never see Jake again, Taylor and Beth are minimal, and the Fae… don’t even get me started. I mean there are a hundred students and you hear about 6 of them? I feel more attached to Sophie’s mother than some of the students… and she was only in like maybe 3 chapters.
Oh, and that development the main characters get? In case you didn’t pick up on this from my character description, all the characters fall into stereotypes. Hell, the author even alludes to this at one point. It’s not a huge deal, I mean the plot was in no way cut and paste, but I felt like the author had so much potential to do bigger and better things that it was a little disappointing. Also, I now know what all those lectures I got regarding my potential and my lack of living up to it feels from the other side.
Again, it’s only an issue because Ms. Hawkins could’ve done so much more. This is evident by some really, really awesome scenes and quotes:
There’s a moment where you start thinking “oh my god, this isn’t young adult at all” and you get out the popcorn. Sophie makes a joke about someone inside her twirling her pearls and disapproving, which was brilliant, and then they get interrupted by something totally stupid and minor, which was actually major, but who cares, hot boy! Deal with the big details later. So yeah, remember when I said “don’t listen to your hormones” in a recent review? Apparently that advice is voided if you’re a teenager and warlocks are involved.
Now where was I? Oh yes, quotes:
“I’m experiencing some teenage angst, Mrs Casnoff,” I answered. “I need to, like, write it in my journal or something.”
“Good luck explaining to God that you used to spank one of his heavenly beings.” Mom gave a startled laugh. “Sophie!” “What? You did. I hope you like hot weather, Mom, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Oh my God. Regret cake? Whatever was about to happen must be truly evil.”
“Archer isn’t hot anymore…. He tried to kill me, and his girlfriend is Satan.”
If you’re not big on sarcastic teens and witty dialogue, don’t pick up this novel. If you are, it’s one hell of a fun ride. I give Hex Hall a very hexy 4.0 hexes. Also, I really like the word hex.
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