Summary: Zoey Redbird isn’t your average vampyre living at the boarding school House of Night. She has control of all five elements, mature vampyre tattoos, and a colored in mark, all of which makes her an extremely special outcast. With help from her goofy loyal friends, and from a famous goddess named Nyx, Zoey is learning to control her powers so she can one day take her place as High Priestess.
When I read House of Night #1, which came out on the 9th, I was really impressed. The premise is strong, the dialogue is fun, and the artwork is GORGEOUS. I mean, look at that perfect color scheme! Purple, green, blue, yellow, it’s so damn pretty. After a little research I learned that the comic series starts into the second book, Betrayed, which I have not read yet (and I will get into why later). Prepare yourself.
In the comic, we meet Zoey’s arch-nemesis Aphrodite (in the series fledglings are allowed to rename themselves when arriving at the House of Night), where they will be groomed on how to be a vampyre. Before being marked, Zoey would refer to it as the Vampire Finishing School. In their 4 years there, fledglings will be taught history (in Vampyre Sociology), partake in rituals, and a lot of kids will die as their bodies reject the change. And no, I’m not sure of the stylistic reason for calling them vampyres rather than vampires. Spell check definitely prefers the latter.
Due to my enjoyment of the comic, I decided to start reading the young adult series. And boy am I glad I read the comic first, because had it been the other way around I probably wouldn’t have even given the comic a chance. It was that bad. Two words: vampire BJs.
Let me start off with the good: the premise. The idea itself is good. Really good. So good in fact that I wish this mother/daughter writing team would hire a ghost writer to do this plot justice. In the novel, if it would be fair to other novels to call it that, fledglings are marked with an outline of a crescent moon in sapphire blue on their forehead, symbolizing their acceptance into the House of Night. This comes along with the words, “Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Nights calls to thee; Hearken to Her sweet voice. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!” which is spoken by the tracker who marks the newbie vamp. A little melodramatic, but whatever. When one has reached a mature vampyre state this mark becomes filled in. I’m totally going to go live among vampyres, where tattoos are culturally accepted.
We even get an explanation of vampyrism, in this case we learn that it occurs around puberty as a result of altered DNA. As if puberty isn’t hard enough on its own already. As mentioned above, not everyone survives this change, and sometimes a fledgling will die when their body rejects what is occurring to them. It’s survival of the fittest, but during puberty. Again, talk about making puberty even more ridiculous, because in this world it might kill you.
The thing I love most about these vampyres is that they live in a matriarchal society, run by a high priestess, in this case Zoey’s mentor Neferet. The vamps are characterized by their dislike of sunlight, penchant for drinking blood, extreme power at night (which is why all classes are held at night- I would have loved to start classes at 6:00 PM), and their worship of Nyx (the goddess of night). This same goddess gifts vampyres with special traits and affinities (such as the ability to see into the future, talk to cats, or be able to call up specific elements). Unfortunately for Neferet her goddess gift is an affinity for cats, turning her into a destined cat lady.
Finally, we are given insight into vampyres in the real world. Since vampyres are beautiful they pretty much populate the arts, from music to acting to dancing. We are even told that Shakespeare was one of the most famous vampyres so we can assume that vampyrism has been going on for quite a while. This would make one think that they would be socially accepted by humanity. Not so, because in this universe there is a group called the People of Faith, a church group formed against vampyres. If anyone were to form a group in defiance of another it would be religious nuts.
Premise aside, there is a lot that I found fault with in this novel. Zoey as a narrator is incredibly frustrating. She’s whiny, self involved, and full of anger. She’s a female teenager. Most of us have been or dealt with angry female teenagers. I for one don’t care to read from the point of view of one. This is a direction contradiction from my last post, where I enjoyed the thirteen year old female narrator, but she was written a heck of a lot better. Not to mention that Zoey is a giant Mary Sue, a powerful vampyre, the only one to have control of all five elements in the entirety of vampyre history. After the end of the first novel, she already has a mature vampyre mark on her forehead, and ones cascading down her back. The hottest boy in school, Erik is in love with her, and she is in charge of the school’s elite club, the Dark Daughters. But of course she doesn’t have tons of friends, that would make her too perfect! Oh noes!
The Dark Daughters (also referred to as the Hags from Hell) is another part of this story I have a problem with. The leader Aphrodite who is described as a clone of Sarah Jessica Parker (who looks like a foot by the way) is your typical evil nemesis. She’s mean, stuck-up, everyone fears her, and she hides visions in which she witnesses people dying because she desires the destruction of the human race. She’s the leader of the most evil sorority one could imagine, complete with sacrificial blood drinking and use of marijuana incense. ::facepalm:: She’s an anti-Sue, complete with ridiculous name. Which did I mention she chose for herself? There a lot of horrible names in this book as a result of the fledgling re-naming. Like Thor. Yup, after that Thor.
As a whole, the characters are poorly written and the dialogue is shoddy and unrealistic. When Zoey first arrives at the school she even witnesses one student trying to seduce another by giving him what I have been calling a vampire BJ. I do not want to read about a teenager giving another teenage a blow job. In a school hallway no less. Especially when I try to figure out why P.C. Cast AND HER DAUGHTER Kristin decided to write this into the plot. You’re a mother and daughter, at what point did you decide to throw a BJ in there!?! Over tea!?!
I know I will keep reading the House of Night comic, I don’t know if I can say the same for the books. This makes me incredibly sad because I really love the premise. The execution is so horrible though that I don’t know if I want to waste my time reading them. At least the comics are there to allow me to experience the story in a successful way: in its most minimalistic form. Preferably without vampire BJs.