AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
SERIES: Hex Hall, book 1
PUBLICATION DATE: March 2, 2010
SOURCE: My library
GENRE: Paranormal romance
GIVE IT TO: MS, HS
OVERALL RATING: Highly recommended
SUMMARY: After a spell on Prom night goes horribly wrong, teen witch Sophie Mercer is forced to attend Hecate, a school for delinquent witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, faeries, and vampires. When Sophie’s roommate is implicated in a series of attacks on students, Sophie is determined to find the true culprit.
WHAT I LIKED: As a rule, I do not read other reviews of a book until I write and publish my own review. Other reviews could taint my opinion or make me think someone else’s opinion is my own. That said, I am sure other reviewers have criticized Hex Hall for being too-similar to Harry Potter, and I can kind of see that argument. You have a boarding school for witches, in a remote location, a protagonist unfamiliar with her own family history, mysterious attacks on students, faculty members who pooh-pooh student warnings of evil penetrating the school walls, ghosts interacting with students, a teacher who “has it in” for the protagonist, etc. All are very similar to Harry Potter.
Despite the similarities, I am going to disagree with reviewers who say Hex Hall is too much like HP. I LOVED this story am really excited to recommend it to my middle school Harry Potter fans (particularly girls). Hex has a healthy dose of romance and a certain creep-factor that I did not expect. With or without the cliff-hanger ending, I can’t wait to read Demonglass.
I love the character development and that no character is all good or all bad. Sophie is self-deprecating, unpopular, gets bullied, makes poor decisions, and is at times, vengeful and mean. Despite all that, readers will admire her spunk, loyalty, intelligence, and realism. Antagonist Elodie is likewise neither all-good or all-bad. As beautiful and powerful as she is, she also makes poor decisions and can be quite mean. Yet at the same time, she clearly cares about Archer and her friends and has a major moment of redemption toward the end. Other supporting characters (would-be boyfriend Archer, vampire roommate Jenna, toadies Anna and Chaston, and the ghost in the green dress) are variably kind, funny, vengeful, and self-serving.
Never predictable, Hex Hall kept me turning the pages, made me laugh, and gave me shivers. I look forward to reading Demonglass very, very soon (we have it my library, yeah!!!).
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The only thing I can really criticize is the similarities to Harry Potter, but who cares? I loved it anyway.
One question–who is the girl in green on the front cover? Is it Alice (green dress on cover not as described in book) or is it Sophie at the dance (her peacock blue dress is described as much more elaborate). The facial features of the girl in the water are similar to the girl in the school uniform, but they don’t look exactly alike. Like they could be twins or sisters, but not the same girl. Hmmm..
- Language: mild; some language sprinkled throughout
- Sexuality: medium; one intense kissing scene
- Violence: mild-medium; a creepy ghost, two near-murders of students (drained of blood), some talk of violent witch deaths in past
- Drugs/Alcohol: none
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and it’s about to become very popular. I am adding it to our schools LS+ list for 2011-2012.