Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release: March 2nd 2010
Genre: Supernatural, Magic, YA
#1 in the Hex Hall trilogy
Sequels: Demonglass (#2), Spell Bound (#3)
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.
Sometimes whether you like a book or not comes down to one factor: Do you like the protagonist? Well, I think the sole reason I enjoyed Hex Hall as much as I did was its stellar MC, Sophie Mercer. That girl was just... damn. Damn.
After 10 pages I was already smiling and thinking, "Ah yes, the protagonist is a sarcastic little shit" — which I loved. I liked her sassyness and wittyness, because unlike other characters (Like Celaena from Throne of Glass...) she wasn't arrogant or stuck-up. Nope, she was simply an extreme fun character and great narrator. And then there are all the other characters, which were nice as well. Jenna was a gem, and I immediately couldn't help but feel sorry for her and love her. The other witches, namely Anna, Elodie and Chaston were so-so. I liked how Elodie was so well-rounded and, while not always likeable, still a fun character, too. The other two, however, fell through a bit, although I have to say I didn't mind that they were only shallow placeholders. I really loved Archer though, because he grew beyond the tall, dark and handsome type and instead of brooding and doing other stuff that type usually brings with it, he was very charming and witty as well. These were a set of very refreshing and nice characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. Even more minor characters like the headmistress or Vandy appealed to me. Nice work, Hawkins.
Then there's the whole bording school for supernaturals setting, which I also absolutely relished. The world-building had a backstory, an interesting one at that, and whilst not being that unique, I still liked it. And maybe it's simply because I was totally feeling in the mood for it, but I vastly enjoyed the boarding school atmosphere and all the bitch and guy drama it brought with it.
Apropos guys, I very much enjoyed the romance. Even though I did frown at Sophie claiming she has a crush on Archer after knowing him for a day, their relationship luckily didn't move too fast. No, they actually took the time to get to a steady and comfortable level of friendship, joking and laughing with each other which I loved. That's usually the way to go for me in terms of romances. They had a lot of palpable chemistry and I was surprised to find myself extremely rooting for them.
Ah, but what is that? There was an actual mystery element to this novel, bringing with it a lot of unexpected and surprising plot twists. While I was ahead of Sophie a little about some things, others completely threw me off. I like being shocked like that, and this book had its fair share of good shockers. I loved it.
So, all in all, it was a very fun and swift read, I picked it up and finished it this same day, because it managed to hold my attention the whole time. The book simply has to be good to do that. And even though I think the novel tied up pretty neatly, there are still some fraying ends that make me want to pick up the sequel right about now. Which I maybe, probably, will soon.