I read all kinds of YA books (realistic fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, dystopia, horror, romance, supernatural, short stories, adventure, spy books, books for the younger set of YA readers, books for the older/teen set of YA readers, award winners, classics, books more appealing for girls, books more appealing for guys, and even a little nonfiction every now and then). However, if you like my blog, you will most definitely notice a large collection of supernatural books. I love vampires, werewolves, wizards, witches, fallen angels, zombies, fairies, super powers and or heroes, dragons, monsters, and most of all: magic.
I know I am not a kid any more. I no longer wait at my mailbox, hoping for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. I am way past puberty, the point at which most YA main characters develop their special skills and magical powers. And believe it or not, I still also find time to read some adult books as well (they’re just not as fun). But, I don’t think there will ever be a time when I won’t want to read a book that deals with magic.
So, when I am lucky enough to come across a book that has all of the supernatural creatures/people I love (witches, vampires, fairies, ghosts, and demons), a Hogwarts style school for such people, plenty of magical themed action sequences, and the horror/supernatural style mystery of teen girls being murdered, I just about had a moment of YA reading bliss. Also, the blurb from Kirkus Reviews on the back describes it as, "Veronica Mars meets Percy Jackson and the Olympians." Can anything be wrong with that combo?
Hex Hall follows Sophie and her exile to Hex Hall, a reform school for prodigum (witches, fairies, and shapeshifters) who have drawn too much attention to themselves from normal humans. Sophie helped a crying girl in her old high school’s bathroom by casting a spell to bring the poor thing’s dream date to the dance. Unfortunately, the dream date crashed the dance (literally) in his silver Land Rover, and the crying girl kept telling everyone it was Sophie’s fault because she used some magical witch powers…When Sophie is sent to her new reform school, she learns a lot about magic, friendship, and herself. There is a little romance too. Sophie also learns that her life-long absent father is the head of the Council (practically witch royalty) and that one of the reasons she was sent to Hex Hall was for her protection.
There are several groups of humans that exist whose sole purpose is to destroy all prodigum, and during Sophie’s “induction ceremony” to her new school, she gets to learn first hand about all of the murders of her kind that humans have done over the centuries. Between escaping covens of mean girls, running for her life from humans, discovering who her family is, learning about magic, befriending the school outcast/vampire, falling in love with someone else’s boyfriend, and arguing with her mother, Sophie really learns a lot about herself and learns to come to terms with her soon to be discovered differences she has from everyone else, including all other prodigum.
So, the story has been done before…several times actually. The book can be grouped together with Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty, Caroline Stevermer’s A College of Magic, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and most of all Claudia Gray’s Evernight. Hawkins must have really like Claudia Gray’s book because a lot of the plot in this book is almost exactly the same, though Evernight dealt mainly with vampires and then ghosts. And while I enjoyed Evernight, it would probably be at the end of the list I just gave if I were to rate them all by how much I loved them.
However, Hex Hall was so much better. And what really made this book such a pleasure to read for me (above it’s involvement in all things supernatural that I just love) is Sophie. She is so much fun to read! She’s sarcastic and smart. She has just enough self-doubt to be a believable teen girl, but not too much, and she (despite various temptations, and a rather large mishap with a dress spell) makes the right decisions. When she realized something she did not like about herself, she dealt with it (Aka: I didn’t have to suffer 50 pages of her whining about her one problem that doesn’t seem too bad). And hopefully, the sequel will skip the YA whine fest too. Because I think I need to go get the sequel now. I give it a 9/10. It’s super fast to read, a lot of fun, and there’s a good (not too crazy) cliffhanger ending.