Written by Rachel Hawkins
Published March, 2010 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Vampires, Witches
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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 student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
I heard a lot of great things about this one before starting it, so perhaps that’s why my expectations were so high upon opening the first page. While I did enjoy parts of Hex Hall, it felt like I had experienced this story many times before with previous reading endeavours.
As I mentioned in short, I felt like I had read this book before. It has a lot of my more popular YA elements; vampires, faeries, unattainable popular guy who is loved by all but dating the beautiful girl… If I had been expecting a flood of originality in this book, those hopes would have vanished a few pages in.
Still, Hex Hall proves to be an entertaining enough read. You do want to finish the story, but nothing proves extremely exciting or surprising. I think if the school had been made less complicated (the shifters and faeries hardly played a part other than creating a diversity of students) it would have been a more enjoyable environment. On the topic of the school, you don’t really get a ‘feel’ for it as one… while the characters do attend classes and board there, I didn’t feel as though I was experiencing the atmosphere.
I did like the dress-making plot, I thought that was quite fun even though a ‘school dance’ seems to be in every YA book these days. I was waiting for that to the be the scene for the climax of the novel, but thankfully it wasn’t. I also liked the character of vampire Jenna, and her soft toy named ‘Bram’.
The relationship between Sophie and popular guy Asher was a predictable one, but I still liked it for the most part.
The ending (without giving spoilers away) felt very anti-climactic and resolved too quickly with hardly any ‘play’. It was just… over… black out chapter, next day. It didn’t feel right in the long run. The mystery throughout the book also didn’t grip me as I’d hoped it would.
Not sure if I’ll be reading the next one, Demonglass, but it’s worth considering.
Recommended to: New readers to YA fiction may find a lot more in this than I have.