Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: School Spirits

School Spirits
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: May 14, 2013
304 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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? 

If you thought Sophie Mercer was a great heroine, there's no doubt you'll love Izzy Brannick. They are both loveable and snarky and the great thing is, there really have nothing in common except for the fact that they're related. A problem I've found with some authors is that they create new characters, but they are really just a regurgitation on their other ones. Hawkins took what we all love about Sophie and slipped it into Izzy's personality without making you think about Sophie. Izzy is in fact, quite the opposite of Sophie, she's not scared of anything and hunting prodigium is in her blood. That is until she's sent to high school, a fish out of water trying to figure out what it's like to be the average teenager. Like Sophie being sent to Hex Hall, Izzy must adapt if she wants to survive, only she's been sent there on assignment, in search of a ghost haunting the school, and she quickly discovers how hard it is to keep work separate from life. 

There's really no comparing Izzy to Sophie, so I don't know why I'm doing it. Izzy stands on her own and she can lead this series without help. Being one of the last Brannicks and having lost her sister to a coven of witches a yea ago, Izzy is busy trying to hunt on her own to prove herself to her mother. But when a routine vampire hunt goes wrong, her mom thinks it best to keep it simple. A ghost hunt at a high school should be easy enough, but as soon as Izzy meets some cool people, like Romy and Dex, she finds it hard to remember that this is just a job. I loved Izzy. She is headstrong and determined, eager to prove herself to her mom even if it gets her into some sticky situations. Watching her try to learn teen life from a very unreal teen show and taking advice from the warlock in the mirror, kept me laughing and cringing at the same time. She quickly realizes that she can't use her full strength at school (lest it get someone killed) and that knowing too much information about how to kill ghosts can make her stand out of a crowd. Thankfully, she makes friends with the local ghost hunting group and outcasts. Dex is one of a kind and she can't quite put her finger on what it is about him that makes her tingle. She is so determined not to admit she's crushing on him that it made me smile, and not want to roll my eyes at her. 

The story kept me guessing. I'm glad for the twists and turns, leaving me on my toes and eager for more. While Izzy is trying to take her time killing this ghost so she can stay in high school longer, her mom is trying to locate her sister, a side storyline that I'm sure will play a bigger part in the later books in the series. Izzy's relationship with her mom isn't perfect, and I'm glad that was a side story as well. It's obvious that Finn, Izzy's older sister, was her mother's favourite, and now with her gone, there is a gaping hole in the family. Izzy is constantly trying to prove herself to her mom, which feels so real it made me want to cry. What teenage girl doesn't want her mom to be proud of her? 

I think I could talk about this book all day, but I'll finish with this. If you enjoyed Hex Hall, pick up this book. Izzy is cunning, insecure and feisty, and she is one of my new favourite heroines. Hawkins' writing flows perfectly, each chapter leaving you wanting to finish the book. I was done in two days, would have been done sooner if I didn't have to work. I didn't want to put this book down and I'm glad I've got a new series to look forward to. 

“You are my new hero. Seriously, I might actually be in love with you now. Would it be awkward if we made out?” 

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