Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Series: Hex Hall #1
Pages: 323
Genre: Paranormal, fantasy
Release: March 2, 2010
How Received: Library

Summary: 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.

My Thoughts:
Whatever expectations I had about Hex Hall... well, they were wrong. Just wrong. For one, despite the title, they do not learn magic. Not in school, at least. Two, the book didn’t run like a school at all. Not really. It was mostly centered on Sophie and her teenage angst and hormones. Three, it wasn’t as action-packed or as scary as I would have expected, even with mysterious incidents popping up all over the place.

Normally, I get creeped out by any paranormal genre that has an edge of mystery and suspense to it. Take Vampire Academy – mysterious things happened in much the same way as Hex Hall, but it was a lot scarier. Heck, even Twilight scared me sometimes (yes, admitting that is painful). Hex Hall was not scary at all, even if there were several central groups out to get Sophie and a continuous string of murders/almost-murders that seemed to target her coven. The danger just didn’t seem that... real. There was no suspense. Even with the two plot twists at the end, I still wasn’t scared. That bothered me.

Speaking of the plot twists, I didn’t really see them coming! Well, okay, I saw 1 out of 3. I obviously knew Hawkins was throwing us a red herring, trying to line up events with Jenna to make it seem like she was guilty. I found out one of the bad guys once they had appeared. The second, involving The Eye (which is a group of hunters determined to kill any Prodigium)? Noot so much. Did not see that at all.

The characters were alright. Sophie was sarcastic most of the time and had no control over her temper whatsoever. Traditional teenage angst and hormones. Same ole, same ole. She wasn’t very smart, really. She kept getting caught up in the Trinity’s pranks, earning her cellar duty for a semester, and was basically mingling with the enemy. Both enemies. Jenna was such an awesome character, clad with faults and insecurities. She’s strong and brave for putting up with the rumors and murmurings that occurred behind her back. I felt so sympathetic for her when her story was revealed.

Archer was the stereotypical hunk that all the girls wanted to be with. I started out not liking him too much (I wanted Sophie to be with the groundskeeper, Cal), but after a while, he charmed me. Speaking of Cal, I loved (because italics aren’t enough) him! I have no idea why, since he was in like... what, three scenes? I can’t shake this feeling that he will play a part in future novels. I felt like Hawkins was setting him up as an important character, possibly a love interest for Sophie or Sophie’s true betrothed.

My main gripe about this book was that some of the story was incongruent. One moment they’d be at a pond, the next Mrs. Casnoff was looking off past the lake. Nowhere in the book does it mention there’s a lake on the island. Another incident was when Sophie had the afternoon off, then Taylor had opened a door during Sophie’s phone call. Weren’t the students supposed to be in class? There were just a lot of things that didn’t add up.

I hated the cliffhanger!! =( Not hate in the bad way; hate in the I WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS RIGHT NAO RACHEL! kind of way. I’m definitely picking up Demonglass as soon as it publishes. I need to find out what happens!

Cover Musings: The cover was pretty cool. Nothing wow-tastic about it. I kept picking up the book the wrong way, lol! But I love that I know what the image means. I just don’t get the cat. Why is it on there? Sophie’s allergic to cats. There are no cats in the novel. Why is it there?!

Memorable Quotes:
"I heard the man and woman cry out a warning as I frantically racked my brain for some sort of throat-repairing spell, which I was clearly about to need. Of course the only words I actually managed to yell at the werewolf as he ran at me were, ‘BAD DOG!’" (pg. 19)

"When someone tells you somebody’s been murdered, laughing is probably not the best response. You know, for future reference.
But laughing is exactly what I did." (pg. 54)

"I’m sure I was making a pretty strange face. At thirteen I was thinking about allowing a boy’s tongue into my mouth. Getting engaged would’ve been pretty far beyond me." (pg. 159)

"‘I wouldn’t listen to anything Sophie Mercer has to say, Taylor.’
I stared at Beth. What happened to our whole hair-sniffing moment of bonding?" (pg. 173)

"There was a sensible part of me somewhere that clutched its pearls and hissed that I better not give up my V-card in a cellar, but when Archer’s hands slid under my shirt and onto the skin of my back, I started thinking that a cellar was as good a place as any." (pg. 285)

"I had no idea what anyone would ever need a demon for. Errands? General evil tasks that needed doing around the house?" (pg. 317)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: Hex Hall was a good read, a nice blend of paranormal, mystery, and romance. The plot wasn’t too deep, although it involved three plot twists. The characters were enjoyable, and I found myself LOL’ing a couple of times at Sophie’s sarcasm. Hawkins definitely portrayed her as a bonafide sixteen year old. The creepiness that usually comes along with the paranormal genre was just lacking. Or missing altogether. But nonetheless, this was a very good, quick read.

Rating: 4/5

**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author's Challenge!


Candace said...

I liked this book too and I agree there wasn't enough of Cal! I also noticed some of the weird things that didn't quite add up. I thought it was a good read but I think I wasn't TOO impressed, I believe I gave it 3/5. I'm anxious to see where it goes cause I agree that the cliff hanger is killer!

Ashlie Swainston said...

Hi! Thanks for your comment! Don't worry about transparency, just have a genuine interest in their blog and it will come! Keep leaving comments like the one you left me and you will do fine! Your blog is cute! I just updated mine. I have a review waiting to be done and I've been blogging so much and not reading! Anyways, I left my comment here because I picked that book up at B&N and almost bought it, then set it down. After reading about the incongruities you found, I am wishy washy about it. But IDK because now I'm also curious! Oh the dilemma! Have fun blogging, check up on ya later!

<3, Ashlie
Page Turners Gone Wild

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@Candace: Yay, another Cal lover! Those few I mentioned in the review were only a few things that didn't add up. I'm sure it would have been a longer paragraph if I put them ALL down. I was mostly drawn in by the humor (it was tough picking quotes this week!) and the cliffhanger at the end. I'm not sure if I would have liked this book that much if it didn't have those two elements in the book. =x

@Ashlie: Hi! I've been in the same situation: I've been blogging more than reading! :P I usually do my reviews RIGHT after I read a book, so it's not like I can switch books that quickly.

But haha, I totally get your dilemma! I'm not the best reader out there, so when I catch things that are incongruent, it's pretty easy to spot. You can check the book out on Goodreads and read more reviews to see what other bloggers think! I'd personally say to buy it, because it's been one of the better books I've read lately but there's a lot lacking. So the choice is yours. :D (That was SO much help, I know. :S)

<3, Kristina :D

Unknown said...

*nods* I agree on so many points. I love boarding school stories, but this one didnt' have the posh feel of VA, and there wasn't much magic-learning like in Harry Potter. Archer was only sort of appealing and the bad guys never scared me either. And I really loved the groundskeeper, too, though he was practically only there as an afterthought! :-)

Straylights said...

I haven't read this book yet! I wanted to buy it but then decided to wait for the paperback lol...I really hate hardcover grr!! and to be honest I was kind of turned off by the cover which is bad bad bad! :-/ I swear I'll get around to reading this! Thanks for the review!

brandileigh2003 said...

I enjoyed this one and it made me laugh! Thanks for the review.

Ashlie Swainston said...

Kristina, I think I will eventually get it. If nothing else the cover looks good. And everyone knows the more books you own the smarted people THINK you are ;) So you are the ONLY one so far who has entered my contest, so thank you! Maybe no one else will and you will win by default! Which would still be rad! And thank you for your suggestion. I am keeping that in mind, because I'm kind of getting used to it myself :)

Thanks again, <3, Ashlie

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Hello Kristina, If you'd like to stop by my blog there is an award with your name on it.

Belinda said...

It's been a while since I've read Hex Hall but I enjoyed it. It wasn't spectacular but it had a nice feel to it and so I was pretty happy with it. I have to say I love how you included your thoughts about the cover. The cover is an important part of reading experience so it makes sense to mention it :) Thanks for sharing!

I actually came by to pass on to you the Versatile Blogger award :) If you click on the link it'll take you to where you can see what it means. Have a great weekend ! The Bookish Snob

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@Tiger: I'm glad you agree on some points! :) I was wondering whether this review was too frazzled, so I'm glad someone else thought the same things I did! :) Archer really only appealed to me towards the end. xD At first he was just... eh. :P

@Straylights: I agree with you! I hate hardback. The only reason I would like hardback is for the sound it makes when you stack them on top of each other when doing vlogs (which I've unsuccessfully tried doing xD). When you get around to it, let me know what you think! :)

@Brandi: I know! Sophie's sarcasm was awesome. I had so many quotes from the book -- it was hard just to choose the few I did!

@Ashlie: Yay you came back! xD If you do eventually get it, let me know what you think! And of course, of course, EVERYONE knows that you judge peoples' intelligence by how many books they own ;)

@Tracy: Hi Tracy! I've thanked you just about everywhere I can think of, but I'm doing so again. So thank you for the award! :)

@The Bookish Snob: Thank you, also! :) I didn't think Hex Hall was that spectacular either. It was just good -- good enough that I'm eagerly anticipating Demonglass. And also, thank you! I agree completely about the cover -- there are people, including me, who judge books by covers. Not that I always do, but I'm more prone to pick up a book that has an appealing cover.

Anonymous said...

The cat! I mentioned that in my review as well. I'm pretty sure the cat is on the rest of the covers as well.

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Dude I know! I saw it again on the Demonglass cover and was like... WHY IS IT ON THERE?! There better be an explanation or something, or I'm going to drive myself crazy.

Bella said...

I'm reading this book now, and I love it! But then again, I find it easy to skip over weird bits, and ignore them. Looking forward to the twists, wonder if I can guess what they are? =]

Thanks for following by the way, just returning the favour! I LOVE your blog. =]

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

I loved it too! :D I SO cannot wait for Demonglass!

Not sure if you can guess. Well, one was easy to guess. The other was just... I wasn't expecting it, haha. Maybe it was just me not being perceptive? Let me know if you guess what they are! :)

And thank you for the compliment! ♥

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