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Are there similarities between this and the Harry Potter series? Yes. Is it still a unique and entertaining read? Definitely.
While the story and characters share some traits with Harry Potter, there is tons of new stuff going on and each character is dealing with their own unique struggles. So yes, it's a wizarding school featuring a team of two males and one female with a stuck-up, slightly charismatic male as a school nemesis, but I promise this is not just a Harry Potter rip off. So much different stuff going on.
I picked this up from the library because I have become obsessed with Holly Black's writing lately and was intrigued by the cover. I'll admit, the book starts out kind of slow. I didn't really like Call's character (plus, it took me forever to realize his name was "Call" and not "Cole", darn audiobooks- the whole time I couldn't figure out how "Cole" was short for "Callum"). He's a bit irritating and clueless. He grows on your a little bit, but I mostly stuck around for Aaron and Tamara.
But the whole world-building. I loved all of the descriptions of the school itself and the various rooms. So cool. All of the magic stuff was fascinating. I liked the idea of magic coming from the elements and the apprentices learning to control them without wands or potions.
The plot was a bit slow to start, but in my opinion, it was worth it for the twist at the end. You know something was coming, but I never would have guessed it was that. Great twist that really pulls the reader in.
I definitely want to continue the series. Just requested the next audiobook from the library.