Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Two years ago, in 2011, I made a goal to read 100 books in a year, which I accomplished (you can read my old reviews on the blog I kept that year, Read.Knit.Spin.Blog.), but due to returning to graduate school in 2012, reading sort of fell by the wayside.  This year, I’ve renewed my goal, but amended it to 50 books in 2012.  I will publish reviews as I go along.

Book 2 for 2013 is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.

Confession: I have a love/hate relationship with YA literature (and Philippa Gregory, but that’s another story for another time).  While sometimes I find the books to be entertaining, I also find myself eye-rolling at times.  For every Hunger Games, there’s at least one Abandon *shudder*.  And after I hurried out to buy Insurgent this year (after LOVING Divergent the year before), and being horribly disappointed, I pretty much gave up YA lit again.  When I got an offer on PaperbackSwap to finally, after almost two years, receive a copy of Hex Hall, I hesitated.  Did I really want to use my last credit on a questionable YA novel?  But I took the plunge, and read it in two days.

I like it.  I really do.  I want to read the sequels now please.

Hex Hall is told from the POV of Sophie Mercer, a young witch who has been busted one too many times for using magic incorrectly.  For her protection (and the protection of those around her) she’s been sentenced to Hecate “Hex” Hall, a reform school for Prodigium (witches, shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries).

This is sort of a Princess Diaries meets Harry Potter type of novel, though I wouldn’t put it on the level of Harry Potter, and Sophie, unlike Princess Mia, isn’t quite as eye-rolly and overdramatic.  She’s dealing with some tough issues — an incapability of harnessing her magical powers, bullying at the hands of pretty sociopaths, an outcast roommate who is in desperate need of a friend — but like any teenager her age, Sophie just wants the guy she has a crush on to notice her.  In that respect, she is relatable and understandable, and at times, very funny and witty.

I agree with other reviewers that say that the writing can be somewhat juvenile.  Constant references to current pop culture (Britney Spears, Abercrombie and Fitch) won’t help the novel’s relevance in the future, but then again, Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series made many mentions of current pop culture and is still a goldmine in the publishing world, so what do I know?  Still, the book is a quick read and the ending is a cliffhanger, and I really, really want to read Demonglass and find out what happens next.  Definitely an enjoyable YA read.

Length: My hardcover copy was 321 pages.  It feels like a lot less.

Recommend: Yes.

To Whom? Fans of YA and magical literature (Harry Potter, Princess Diaries, etc).

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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