Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
Series: Hex Hall #1
Author's Blog:
Source: Bought
Challenges: Witchy Book, Suspense and Mystery, YA/MG Fantasy, Speculative Romance

Sophie is sentenced to Hecate Hall, aka Hex Hall, after a spell she casts goes horribly wrong and draws too much attention. Hex Hall is for those witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, and faeries who need to learn the importance of keeping their identity secret from regular humans. So Sophie settles in, with her vampire roommate, a crush on the hottest boy, and staunch enemies of the three most glamorous girls. But then she learns that a girl died last year, and then another girl is found half-dead... As the murders and mysteries start piling up, Sophie tries to figure out who she should not be trusting, and what on earth - or in hell - is going on.

First of all, let me say - I love Sophie! I love her sarcastic funniness, her wit and instincts. I love that though she is meant to be confused and bewildered by what's going on, she is far from stupid and clueless, but she still gets caught up in the regular teen stuff. She's the perfect mix of intelligence and teenage foolishness, and that's really what propels the story.

In fact, the entire story is character-propelled, so that every event grows organically from the people in the story. The characters are all really well-rounded and fully developed, so I felt like I really know each of them, and then when they do things out of character, there's that delicious speculation of why that's happening, which totally adds to the suspense of the story. And there's lots of suspense - the pacing of the book is really great.

But the main thing that grabbed me is the identity-search. I love books that deal with teens trying to figure out who they are, and of course in paranormal books there's the more obvious layer of figuring out what they are as well. It's the most perfect when the two parts are combined, so that the what of Sophie's search is inextricably tied up in the who as well. The way everything leads up to that final revelation, and the way it's not actually fully resolved but promises to continue in the next books, is completely perfect.

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