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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)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.
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.

First Look: ***** This looked pretty interesting.  For whatever reason, my brother thought the cover looked ridiculous and appalling, but I like it. I just hoped it wouldn't be a ripoff of Harry Potter. Especially with all of the Deathly Hallows hype right now.

Setting: ***** 
To tell you the honest truth, the school was very Hogwarts-ish.  Except much, much less cool.  Especially if you name a few certain Hecate Hall teachers....but I'll go into that in a minute. The setting just didn't hold that much appeal for me. I couldn't get into it.

Characters: *****  
I was going to give this four stars, but the more I thought about it, the more off that seemed. I liked Sophie, but she wasn't really all that unique. She had that overused snarky/sarcasm thing going on, which was amusing at times but at other times it just got old and annoying.  I'm going to need to write a post on the whole teenage sarcasm thing, because something tells me the adults don't quite see teens the way teens see teens....  Jenna was interesting enough as a friend, but Archer bothered me.  He was too perfect.  I just knew something was going to happen with him; it was all too good to be true.  Elodie was just annoying and the cliché mean bully girl.

Plot: *****  
The prom thing was a very interesting start.  I liked it!  After that, though, we went right into the typical girl unwillingly goes to boarding school, makes enemies for no good reason on the first day, has a teacher that hates her, bla bla bla.  That part bored me.  But as soon as we got through all that, I could really get into the plot.  The mystery was awesome, and the magic was cool, though I'm hoping to see a bit more in the next book.

Uniqueness: *****
Let's see...magical boarding school?  Girl has no idea who she really is and what she can do?  Makes snotty enemies the first day?  Groundskeeper who lives in a little shack (well, at least Sophie acknowledged that he was basically a young Hagrid)?  And...this is the one that really got me.  Teacher with very shady, dark past?  Hates her father's guts?  A defense teacher, at that?  Had higher ambitions?  *tap tap tap tap* What is that mysterious ticking noise? Hmmm...kind of...catchy. Snape, Snape, Severus Snape....*

Writing: *****
Honestly, I read this book pretty quickly and didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the writing.  It really didn't help that I found a typo on page 16.  And then I found a really bizarre one, near the end of the book.  Anentiresentencewasstrungtogetherlikethiswithnospaces.  I've seen that done in books, but for good reason.  There wasn't a good reason for this one.  There wasn't even a bad reason. It was just...weird. Other than that, the writing was decent enough.

Sometimes this book made me laugh.  Not like Artemis Fowl rolling-on-the-floor-like-Draco-Malfoy kind of laugh, but the I'm-smiling-which-is-the-equivalent-of-me-laughing.

The whole Hogwarts thing.  And I'm sorry Jenna, but as much as I liked you...well, I won't go into the whole gay marriage debate right now. Let's just say I'm...against it. I am struggling a bit with a few aspects of the whole witch thing here.

Total Score: 
I enjoyed this. It's a quick, fun read. It does borrow quite a bit from Harry Potter**, but I still liked it.  Fantasy or paranormal fans will probably enjoy it.  It's got a fun, witty protagonist and an interesting premise to set up the rest of the series.  Besides, the ending will probably leave you wanting more.  I know I'll be reading the sequel!

**Not as much as Charlie Bone, though. *shudders* I enjoyed reading Charlie Bone, but it basically copies Harry Potter. I just read it for Tancred and Olivia and the dog.


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