Jul 26, 2013
Title: School Spirits
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.
Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.
Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?
You know when it’s really late at night and you should probably go to bed soon, but you kind of want to read something first, so you decide to read just the first chapter of a book, but then you end up reading the whole thing in one sitting?
This book guys. This was that book for me.
Ever since the HEX HALL trilogy ended I’ve kind of been crying because I loved that series and I love Rachel Hawkins’ writing, and I’ve been desperate for her next book. I’ve had SCHOOL SPIRITS sitting beside my desk for quite a while and I get all excited when I see it, but I’ve been waiting until I was less busy to read it so I could really enjoy it.
Which was a good choice all around.
I loved this book.
Did I think it was as good as the HEX HALL books? No. Did I think Izzy was as great a narrator as Sophie? Not quite.
Because this is a spin off of the HEX HALL series, I can’t help but compare it to those books. So I’m going to try to review it in comparison to HEX HALL and on its own merits because the set up of SCHOOL SPIRITS is quite different from HEX HALL.
I remember being slightly disappointed in SPELL BOUND, the final book in the HEX HALL trilogy, because I didn’t think it was as fully formed as it could be, and I was left with the feeling that there were a few questions and issues left unaddressed. However, I knew there was going to be a spin off, so I wasn’t too worried about that because I thought they might be addressed in this book.
They’re weren’t. I’m saying that now for anyone who thinks that SCHOOL SPIRITS is going to continue parts of the story from HEX HALL. It doesn’t. SCHOOL SPIRITS is completely and totally separate from HEX HALL and has very little to do with that story.
Which is fine, obviously. I don’t expect a spin off to be the same story. However, I did think that there was a very vast, fully formed world created in the HEX HALL trilogy, and we don’t really see it in SCHOOL SPIRITS. SCHOOL SPIRITS is a much “smaller” story in that sense, involving only Izzy, the Brannicks, and a haunted school—there’s no Hex Hall, or Prodigium Council, or threat like The Eye, and we don’t see any of the characters from HEX HALL. In a way, it does make sense for the story to be “smaller” since, as of right now, there is only the one book in this series.
The story itself was a lot of fun though, with or without my comparing it to HEX HALL as I was reading. It’s fun and it’s intriguing, and it does throw you for a loop now and then.
But it was fun getting to see some new characters.
True, I think Sophie is a much better narrator for a book—she’s hilarious—but Izzy is still a great character. Kick ass socially awkward girls are pretty awesome, as far as I’m concerned. It was a lot of fun watching the girl who could probably knock you out with her pinkie try to figure out high school and, you know, people.
I can definitely appreciate and love Izzy. She takes her work seriously, after all, she’s one of the few remaining Brannicks and her sister disappeared during a job that should have been easy. And she wants to prove to her mother that she can be as good a Brannick as her mom and her sister. Which is unfortunate because this school haunting that should have been an easy job to boost Izzy’s confidence is turning out to be a bit more complicated than she thought.
The other characters were also great. Can we talk about Dex for a second? Because I’m going to talk about Dex for a second. So, like, a lot of books include romance subplots, but a lot of the time the romantic interests seem to be these physically attractive guys with little to no actual substance (or maybe it’s just the books I’m reading?). And every time I read about those guys I get SO BORED because, honestly, when I’m reading I’m attracted to personalities, not appearances (because, you know, I cannot actually SEE characters when I am READING about them).
But one thing Rachel Hawkins excels at is giving her characters personalities and making them feel real. I WANT to spend time with these characters. I’m actually INVESTED in this romance.
So I am VERY GRATEFUL for Dex who may be a physically attractive person, at least in my head, but is also very different from those cardboard cutout characters I’m so used to reading about. I mean, come on, he’s asthmatic, he wears purple jackets and pinstripes, and he is so utterly charming that I just wanted to grab him in one hand and Izzy in the other hand, then shove them together and yell, “KISS ALREADY.”
However, despite how much I loved this book, there were still times when I thought the writing was a little thin. Like, I thought that some plot elements could have been developed a little more. I thought some characters could been fleshed out a bit. Sometimes things felt like they were being skimmed over when I would have liked to linger on those moments a bit more. But I’m willing to forgive a lot in books when the characters feel like real individuals that I enjoy reading about.
Overall, this was a great book and a lot of fun. I know there’s no sequel currently planned, but I do hope we get to see one some day, and I hope that the story expands and we get to see more of this world. Definitely recommended if you liked the HEX HALL series.
An Enjoyable Read, Well Written!
**Please note: This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.**
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