Friday, April 22, 2011

Young Adult Super Post 1! The Replacement, Hex Hall, The Iron King, and Hex Education

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (2010)

Goodreads summary: 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.

My take: I thought the book was good but not great. Sophie was a pretty obnoxious character in my opinion. She doesn't listen to anyone, flies off the handle, doesn't pay attention to what's going on. Of course, that would be pretty typical for a teenager, so maybe those are ridiculous arguments. Sophie is funny, though, and I liked her vampire roommate--it isn't very often that you get a gay character (especially where it's treated like no big deal) in YA. It is pretty accurate to teenage girl drama--the mean girls that get less mean when their friends aren't around, the random social cliques that form, how people deal with stress and the unknown. I will say that I was surprised by the "bad guy"--both of them (and I won't say any more than that or I will be giving away spoilers).

Will I read the next in the series? Sure.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2010)

Goodreads synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs

My take: Honestly, this book has one of the best covers I've seen in years. It totally drew me in from the minute I started to see the book reviewed on blogs. I was absolutely judging the book by it's cover. Once I read about the book on blogs, I knew I wanted to read it.

I was disappointed. The book is has some great ideas--a town that is both grateful to and terrified of the sidhe. The main character, Mackie, being unable to be around blood (a concept I haven't seen explored before but which makes perfect sense because of the iron). The idea of a changeling being totally accepted (and eventually loved) in a family. But it was a slow book. A really slow book. Most of those ideas were not fully explored. The "Underworld" portion of the town seemed remarkably cheesy to me and not nearly as scary as it was obviously supposed to be. Mackie was hard to relate to for me and kind of bland. I actually think secondary characters like Mackie's sister Emma, crush Tate, and friend Roswell were more interesting than the main character--never a good sign.

Keep reading the series? No. I will admire future covers though.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (2010)

Goodreads synopsis:Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

My take: I didn't know what to expect from this book, although it has been sitting in my TBR pile for quite some time. I had read both good and bad reviews of it over the last year. I still don't know what I think. I liked all the characters from Meghan to Ash (and especially her little brother--the "death" of his stuffed bunny was actually one of the more upsetting deaths I've read in the last year). I think in some ways this is the "set-up" book, setting up the series for future books. It seemed to be more about introducing the characters than about actual action. I thought the idea of the Iron Court was truly novel and interesting--worth a star totally on it's own.

I liked the mixture of Shakespeare (Puck--a very Shakespeare Puck rather than the Puck of other UF) and Alice in Wonderland (there is no way to mistake that the basis for Grimalkin was the Cheshire cat). But I don't really like when a love triangle is set up before you even care about any of the characters--I can't be on Team Ash or Team Puck because I don't really care about either of them so far.

Will I keep reading? Yes.

Goodreads synopsis: Sophie Stone doesn't want to leave the bright lights of LA for the dreary little burg of Mythic, Massachusetts. So why, then, does she feel eerily drawn to the place? And why, after she crosses the county line, does she begin having headaches, accompanied by strange and frightening visions? At least school is a bright spot--Sophie is immediately accepted by the coolest, most popular, best-dressed girls at Mythic High. But what she doesn't know is that her new friends don't buy their couture--they conjure it! They're a coven of witches, formed to save the town from an evil that is rising, an evil that was foretold decades ago. And Sophie is their leader!

Will Sophie embrace her powers and save the town? Or is Mythic totally hexed?

My take: Read another paranormal YA book. This one is seriously boring. The writing is of the "tell, not show" school of thought. The lone item I liked--the main character is the daughter of a horror movie director and his muse. I could imagine if Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter moved to New England and how their kid (who, in this case, is far more interested in shopping than paranormal activity) would fare. This book was a "Did not finish" for me. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't very good either.

Keep reading? I'm not sure if this is a series or not but either way, no.

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