Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Or the One That Surprised Me)

February 12, 2015 books, reviews 8

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins cover

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 tag-along 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.

I’m not sure how to describe this book. It’s like some bizarre mixture of Vampire Academy, St Trinian’s and Winx. To be honest, I almost gave up after the first couple of chapters. The writing felt immature, the story borrowed and the characters flat. Maybe I’m spoiled after reading The Darkest Minds, but I expect more from YA. But then something happened. I started to really enjoy it and time flew by as I read until I got to the ending – and boy, was that an ending. It exceeded my expectations by far. Some aspects were predictable, sure, but all in all the book went places I didn’t think it would go and I loved it.

Some things really made me roll my eyes. Of course Lord Byron had to be one of the teachers. Obviously there needs to be a group of mean girls and a lone outsider the heroine befriends. Fortunately, it turns out that things aren’t quite as boring and formulaic as they seem at first glance. Also, I really liked Jenna, Sophie’s outsider friend, so that turned out fine.

One of this book’s best qualities is that it’s really funny in parts. I started out sighing and rolling my eyes and ended up laughing at quite a few parts later on. My verdict after reading a couple of pages was: this is a book I might have liked when I was 14 or 15 (which doesn’t make it bad, I just had a different taste then than I do now) and my verdict after the end is: sooooo why do I not own the sequel to this? I hope Rachel Hawkins didn’t use up all her good ideas for the first book, but judging by the ending, it does actually seem like she has plans for the next one, so I have high hopes.

If it weren’t for the last third, this would be a three star book. Not too deep, but an entertaining and funny read. I went from 2.5 cupcakes at the beginning to 4 at the end, so let’s go with a good 3,5!

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