Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Series: Hex Hall #1
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.
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?!
"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.
**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author's Challenge!
**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author's Challenge!