Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall is proof that a good narrator is worth its weight in gold. Sophia is everything I hoped I was in high school, but I fear I was never that cool. YAs are a tough sell for me. They're either extraordinary (whaddup, Hunger Games?) or pathetic and slightly troublesome (Shatter Me, Twilight). So, Hex hall, consider these 5 stars a great honor. I've been a big book grump lately, so it means a lot.

After a love-spell gone wrong at her prom, teen witch Sophia Mercer is sent to Hecate Hall, a school for troubled young prodigium - or as Sophie calls it at one point, "juvie for monsters." Think Hogwarts without the emphasis on learning magic. The reason kids are sent to Hecate is so they can learn to suppress their magic around humans. Apparently, people aren't all that kosher with witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, faeries, and vampires. Once at the school, Sophia finds herself an outcast once again. Like every school since ever, there's a clique of mean girls who turn on Sophie after she refuses to become a member of their coven. And of course, there's the dark and arrogant boy who Sophie hates to crush on. Plus, her roommate and only friend, Jenna, is a vampire, a creature that no one seems to trust. When witches at Hecate are attacked by an unknown creature, Sophie finds herself embroiled in some dark mean girl schemng and some darker magic. In the process, she might even find out a few suprising things about who she really is.

Sophie kicks ass. And no, she doesn't kick ass in the Buffy, stick thin warrior goddess way. Sophie's ass kicking comes from her personality. Hawkins does a wonderful job of writing from the perspective of a snarky, vulnerable, sometimes awkward teenage girl who's trying to make sense of her oversized powers. Sophie is funny and snarky, but not in a mean-spirited way. She has lots of character, and even when the world seems to crumble around her, she doesn't buckle under in self-pity. She cries, she thinks, and then she goes on with her life like a normal person. No Bella Swan self-imposed 4 months of blank pages for this girl.

The romance in Hex Hall builds slowly and in a believable way. I'm still not sure how I feel about Archer. Maybe the next book will reveal more about Hecate's resident bad boy. The romance is blessedly secondary to the rest of the story. It's actually kind of adorable how Sophie awkwardly crushes on Archer. That takes me straight back to high school. Oh, the good ol' days!

Hex Hall is littered with some delightful secondary characters. Vampire Jenna is amusing and obsessed with the color pink. One of their instructors is Lord Byron - yes, THE Lord Byron. The mean girls are actually fleshed out beyond caricatures. No one bores me, and that's an accomplishment in itself.

I'll definitely read the second book in this series. Sophie's just too much fun to pass up. Wow. This book totally bypassed my cynicism. I can't be snarky about this one. I actually liked it.