Thursday, 2 June 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

3 Stars. (Young Adult)

Hex Hall was for the most part a cute and light hearted read. It was entertaining and the cast of characters were enjoyable.
I can’t say I absolutely loved this book, but it was a fun read and the pages fly by quickly. The pace of the story starts out fast and keeps going all the way to the end. There isn’t much filler and the book does a good job of setting up the world of Prodigium for the readers.

Sophie Mercer is exiled to Hex Hall after another of her spells goes horribly array, basically Hex is a boarding school for delinquent Prodigium - fairies, werewolves, witches etc. who have for one reason or another been caught using their abilities in front of humans which could severely harm the secrecy so important to the magical world. Sophie arrives at Hex and is immediately singled out by the mean girls, develops a futile crush on one of the hottest boys at the school and a friendship with the one and only vampire on campus, who is an exile among exiles.

Sophie was an intriguing character, funny, strong, smart and sometimes sassy; she knew how to handle herself well among the elite of the school. She wasn’t willing to let anyone push her around and made sure she stood up for herself when necessary. I would have liked to see her stand up just a little more for Jenna, the resident vampire, though when she was being accused of some pretty heinous acts.
All in all the story was fluid and interesting but lacked in a few ways that made it only a 3 star read rather than a possible 5.
For one, although the characters were interesting, they needed much more development. I was 155 pages in and felt like the author was still setting everything up for the reader. Sophie and Archer’s relationship needed a lot more attention, especially given the ending of the book and the outcome of said relationship. It really bothered me that the author didn’t give enough attention to these two. Sophie started mentioning in her narrative about the talks she and Archer shared while they worked in the cellar after receiving a semester long detention. Well, the reader never really gets to witness these interactions and although they are mentioned so the reader knows these two are getting closer, I never saw the change and so didn’t fully believe that Sophie’s feelings changed so drastically. Archer had the potential to be a great lead and for the most part he was, but again his characterization needed some work. I needed to see him more in the story. I wanted to know what his motivations were and how his feelings changed so suddenly for Sophie. I know that the book is told from her perspective, but so many YA books are and I still feel like I witnessed the ultimate change of feelings between hero and heroine. I didn’t get that feeling with Hex Hall. The pivotal scene between them was well played and I really liked it, but it fell flat after I passed it because their previous interactions didn’t live up to the emotion of that key moment.

Sophie was the most developed character but I still questioned her sometimes. She was consistent but I wanted more from her. More of a personality one way or the other. Is she a strong, kick-ass heroine or a shy girl who needs to step out of her shell and fight. She was both and I guess that bothered me.

The mean girls were suitably mean, but the ultimate showdown between Sophie and her nemesis and the resolution of the ultimate mystery in the book felt rushed and too simple.

The history of Hex and the present dangers to the Prodigium were all well developed and explained, but I would have liked a bit more mystery and intrigue. As a final point, a story about magic and witches, in my opinion could have amped up the magical elements. The spells that weere cast seemed very superfifical and I was definitely hoping for more from the moments when magic was used at Hex Hall.

Overall, this was a quick and easy read but lacked depth and tension in a lot of places. I will probably read the second in the series at some point, because there were definitely interesting lose ends to tie up for the rest of the series, but it’s not a high priority on my list right now.

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