Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review of Hex Hall

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Pages: 336
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: March 2, 2010
ARC Provided By: Book It Forward ARC Tours
My Rating:

Goodreads says, "When Sophie Mercer turned thirteen, she 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 Hecate Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fae, 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 on campus. Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her friend Jenna is the number one suspect.  Meanwhile, Sophie has a more personal shock to grapple with. Not only is her father the head of the prodigium council, he's the most powerful warlock in the world, and Sophie is his heir. 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."

Sophie Mercer is a witch and her father, whom she has never met, sends her to Hectate Hall, which is essentially a reform school for people with abilities like her own.  She navigates through various situations, such as meeting new friends (vampire!), getting comfortable with her powers, avoiding the mean girls, and of course, interacting with the hot guy on campus, Archer.  Middle school students can easily relate to Sophie's new situations as they truly mirror their own when arriving at a new school.  Rachel Hawkins's debut is a successful one that I think many of my middle school students will simply love.  More importantly, Hex Hall will fill the empty void that we all have since saying goodbye to our beloved Harry Potter.

With that said, Hex Hall reminded me a lot of Harry Potter and if you know me, you know that this is a sincere compliment as I adore the series.  It was a delightful read that had many twists and turns.  What I loved the most about it was the simple fact I could recommend this to my 6th or 7th graders without worrying.  For the first time in awhile, I can honestly say that this book didn't really cross the line and is perfect for the middle level grades.  Yes, there's a love interest, but it's mostly PG.  I applaud Rachel Hawkins for keeping it middle level appropriate in a world where many authors are having their main characters be a little too edgy for young adolescents. 

Another aspect of the book that I loved was the fact that Hawkins creates a world very much like Hogwarts. There's a mysterious building, mean teachers, ghosts that roam the hallways, enemies that could give Draco Malfoy a run for his money, and of course, many young adults with supernatural abilities living under one roof.  The one thing that Hawkins changed for the better is the fact that there are not just witches at Hex Hall, but werewolves, vampires, etc.  It's a fun world that I enjoyed visiting. 

The one thing that I got caught up on, and I'm sure you may feel differently, was the teen-speak.  I see this a lot in The House of Night series and I tend to cringe when I do encounter it.  I work with middle school students and not all of them speak that way.  Most can actually communicate well!  It didn't bother me to the point where I had to put the book down, but it is a pet peeve of mine.  Keep in mind the teen speak wasn't from the main character.  In my opinion, she's too smart for that!  

I'm so glad that this will be a series as this book ended with a HUGE cliffhanger. It definitely took me by surprise.  I will absolutely be picking up the second book when it comes out and I know that female fans of Harry Potter will be devouring this series.  I look forward to reading more from Rachel Hawkins and I love the fact that she taught English for a few years.  Gotta show my fellow English teachers some love! 

Buy It Here:

*A big thank you to Book It Forward ARC tours for allowing me to be a part of this tour!  Thank you!!


  1. Great review. I've pre-ordered the UK version of this and I can't wait for it to come in stock, it sounds fab!

  2. Great review! I'm glad it is MG-suitable. I'll be reading it soon and donating it to my HS Media Center (serving grades 6-12). Happy reading!

  3. It's getting ridiculous how much I want to just run out and pick up this book. Great review!

  4. I know I already commented on this post but I forgot:

    I just wanted let you know I picked you for this award :)

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys! And thanks for the award, Sara! I appreciate it!

  6. I've seen this around, but your review makes it sound amazing--comparing it to Harry Potter is a huge compliment. It's on my wish list.

  7. I definitely, definitely have to read this. I've been wanting to read it for ages, but your review tells me that it's completely my kind of book.

    That said, an excess of teenspeak does sometimes get on my nerves. Hopefully I can live with it in this case.

  8. Medeia- Yeah, it's comparable to H.Potter. I prefer J.K Rowling's writing style to Hawkins's but it is still a "fun" read. The series is promising.

    Lauren- I'll definitely be interested in what you think about it once you read it!

  9. I didn't really notice the teen-speak. I did like Sophie's way with words. I loved her description of her first view of her dorm room. I could really see all the pink.

    I am curious about Archer. I'd like to know his backstory. Why is he involved with the Eye? Why didn't he harm Sophie when he had a chance? Where did he go and will we see him again?

    I do not think that this has quite the rich world-building of the Harry Potter series but it was a very nice book that I will be hand-selling to my middle grade students. Hopefully, after selling it to one, the book will be passed around to other interested readers.

  10. Kathy- You are right; Sophie didn't use the teen-speak, but a few of the minor characters did and it drove me nuts. Ha. It wasn't overpowering though.

    I agree- I am definitely curious about Archer! I will be picking up the next book in the series to see what happens.

    I'm glad you will be recommending it to your middle school students. I think they will definitely like it. And don't get me wrong- Hawkins is no JK Rowling, but I think there are many similarities with some of the story line and characters.

  11. Definitely sounds like something I would enjoy! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and am always looking for something to pique my interest the way that Rowling's series did. Nothing can ever compare, of course, but it's nice to find something along the same vein! And I love that cover!

  12. Meg- You are right; it's not a replacement, but it's definitely along the same vein. Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

  13. I found your blog via the blog hop!

    I just finished this book and I really enjoyed it. There were moments that made me laugh out loud. It did have that Harry Potter feel, but I never felt like Hawkins was trying to deliberately recreate something similar to HP. I actually found that it was the first YA novel I have read in a while that felt like a YA novel. A lot of books I've been reading feel like adult novels with young characters. The "teen speak" was present but not in an overwhelming way. It never made me feel like the author was trying to hard to create a "cool" teen world/POV. It was certainly PG, which again was refreshing. The cover is gorgeous and the ending satisfying with enough room to grow. Loved it.



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