Many books in my book queue are waiting to be read, and a common theme among is that they’re all part of a series, trilogy or saga. Each Sunday, I’ll share a book from a series. You can read along with me, or add the books to your own reading list. This week, I’ll be reviewing “Marked,” the first book in the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.
I’m not really a fan of vampire-themed novels, so it’s a bit of an oddity that I’d even consider picking up a book that has to do with vampires, or “vampyres,” as P.C. and Kristen Cast spell it.
In June 2010, I reviewed “Insatiable” by Meg Cabot and sort of changed my mind about novels with a vampire theme. I still think they’re a little over the top. But I decided to give “Marked” a chance.
“Marked” is written from the point of view of Zoey Redbird, a high school student who lives a pretty crappy life with her mom and step-father. The one person she admires is her grandmother, Sylvia, who owns a lavender farm. One day at school, Zoey is “marked” by a vampyre, which means she is chosen to join the House of Night and complete “the change” to become a fully-grown vampyre. In P.C. and Kristen Cast’s world, fledgling vampyres must go to school and stay there to avoid dying from the change of becoming a vampyre.
Zoey begins to fit in at the House of Night, meeting new friends, developing her first crush and getting a cat, but she’s different from the rest of the students there. When she’s marked, the outline of a crescent moon appears on her forehead. After she has a vision of Nyx, the goddess of night, her mark is filled in. This makes her different among her friends at school.
Trouble brews when Zoey’s guardian, Neferet, suggests she join the Dark Daughters, a clique of elite vampyre students. The leader of the Dark Daughters, a catty girl named Aphrodite, hates Zoey from the start when she believes Zoey is trying to steal her boyfriend.
Zoey also runs into trouble when she almost imprints on her ex-boyfriend, Heath, by drinking his blood.
Not all of the vampyres who travel to the House of Night make it through the change. Those who don’t die. Unfortunately, by the end of the book, there’s a bit of an issue with the students dying and then mysteriously coming back from the dead as red-eyed demons. I’m sure I’ll learn about that phenomenon in the second book.
The book is extremely entertaining and a very fast read compared to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. It’s classified as young-adult literature, with some mild violence and light sexual themes. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m excited to see what happens in the later books. As warm and trustworthy as Neferet seems, I’m pretty sure she’s evil.
One thing that irks me about the book is the teenager jargon that P.C. and Kristin Cast feel the need to sprinkle in to the narration. In fact, many YA writers can take a tip from them about how NOT to write adolescent-voiced narrative. It becomes glaringly apparent that the writers are not 15 years old, and the presumed jargon just makes Zoey appear less educated and less of a projection of the average teenager. Using the words “ohmygod” and “totally,” and having the character go off on side-tangents about now-irrelevant pop culture, is really unappealing. It’s been almost seven years since I was a teenager and I’m pretty sure no one talked like that in real life.
The next book is called “Betrayed,” which sounds extra foreboding. I’ll be back next week to talk about it!