The House of Night #1 – Marked (or The Wakefield Twins go Twilight!)

The House of Night is a ludicrous and derivative series of vampire-focused YA books, penned by PC Cast and her teen daughter, Kristin.

That’s right, because it takes two people to poorly integrate “teen slang” into the obsessively politically correct and preachy story of teens attending a vampyre finishing school in Oklahoma. Actually, if the Acknowledgment pages are to be believed, it also takes several of PC Cast’s high school creative writing classes to really flesh out ridiculous plot twists and sad pop culture references.

In fact, it could be argued that House of Night is just SVH set in 2007 at a Vampyre Finishing School. No blond identical twins, though. 😦

Marked opens with Zoey Redbird, (a typical teenager, just like you and me) hanging at her locker, minding her own business, when out of nowhere some dead guy shows up and marks her as a vampyre. OMG! Can you believe it?

Oh, BTW – You and I have been spelling “vampire” wrong all these years. At The House of Night its “vampyre”. I know. Even my spell-check cannot withstand this abomination.

Anyway, the dead guy – a “tracker” – points at her and says some fancy words like “Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!” If the public humiliation was not bad enough, on her forehead appears a blue crescent-shaped tattoo! Oh noes!!!

Now you and I are saying “WTF??”, but our gal Zoey knows exactly what is going on. Thank God she’s here to explain it to us! Vampyres are totally part of society, and she learned all about this in science class. Something boring like genetics and hormones combine in certain teenagers and they begin to “change” into a vampyre. Somehow, the Tracker knows about this and shows up and “marks” the unfortunate teen. Or something. Zoey will either complete “the change” and become a full-fledged vampyre … or reject the change and die!

Despite knowing what is going on, Zoey is TOTALLY bummed about this turn of events. She totally doesn’t want to be a goth or emo kid, she just wants to be normal and hang out with her BFF Kayla and on-again-off-again boyfriend, Heath. But alas, that is just not meant to be… Zoey has to hurry and get to her local “House of Night”, which is a superfancy Vampyre Finishing School!

Just because everyone knows about vampyres, doesn’t mean that everyone is cool with it. Take Zoey’s mom and step dad, for example. They are soooo ignorant and lame and totally into Jesus, or as they refer to it in the book “The People of Faith”. But, we know that it’s really Jesus, because her mom reads those “Chicken Soup for Your Soul” books, and everyone knows what THAT means!

When Zoey’s lame parents find out she’s becoming a vampyre they think that she is totally evil now and they want Jesus and a psychiatrist to cure her or something. Zoey runs off to find her the only person who understands her, her grandma, a Cherokee medicine woman who lives on a lavender farm! Cool! Hippies!

While wandering around her grandma’s lavender farm, Zoey falls down and has a vision of the Goddess Nyx who is apparently the goddess of vampyres. Nyx tells her she is chosen, special and wise beyond her years. Nyx warns Zoey that “darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.” Whoa. Deep.

When Zoey finally gets to the House of Night, it’s like the coolest, gothest place ever! Its all gas powered torches and buildings with pointy facades, but also flat screen TVs, Count Chocula and the ubiquitous “brown pop” which Zoey loves so dearly.  I find it HILARIOUS, that Team Cast name drops like there is no tomorrow, from Ralph Lauren to Banana Republic to Starbucks, but don’t take a side in the Coke vs. Pepsi battle.

Oh also, the food is delicious and healthy and cool. Of course it is! Because everyone knows that food prepared in an institutional setting is always DE-E-E-E-E-LICIOUS.

Zoey thinks she looks kind of cool and exotic with her new vamp tattoo and she likes to wear black eyeliner with sparkly glitter in it. But, she makes sure to remind us impressionable young ladies that it is NOT COOL to wear too much eyeliner! Girls with too much eyeliner look like scary, raccoon losers. Is that you, Mom? How did you get inside this stupid vampire book???

Zoey becomes instant best friends with a ragtag group of kids, each apparently representing a group that Team Cast wants to make a statement about. There’s country girl Stevie Rae, pretty blonde Erin, African American Shaunee and gay Damian. Each of these stereotypical characters appears to have been created so that they can behave in their assigned stereotypical manner, in a mind-bending attempt by Team Cast to condemn stereotyping.  Is this a vampire book or an after school special?

Zoey has supercool vampyre teachers, like Neferet, her ultra-beautiful and too perfect mentor. All the teachers are amazingly beautiful and read minds. This way, pesky fledgling students cannot outsmart them, and thus have no other alternative but to worship and adore them! Just like it must be for real-life high school English teacher, PC Cast!

Neferet gets Zoey involved in the Dark Daughters, a vampyre sorority called headed by evil, blond Aphrodite (read: Jessica Wakefield). Aphrodite is a bitch AND a slut who Zoey catches trying to give a blood-sucking BJ to a “hottie” named Erik Night. Cool name for a boy who doesn’t want a BJ and pushes Aphrodite away. Just in case you impressionable readers took this as an invitation to put on too much eyeliner and start giving BJs, you can put down that eyeliner. As Zoey reminds us, “Those of us with functioning brains know it’s not cool to be used like that.” Oh right. Good to know…

Not that I approve of sororities in general, but the Dark Daughters does sound like my kind of sorority. They use marijuana and drink blood laced wine! Fun, right? WRONG! This is NOT cool! Joints are gross and drugs are stupid!

Despite fun (oops I mean wrong!) activities, the Dark Daughters is a typical sorority. The membership is exclusive, the members are snobby bitches and they are cruel to nerds who they use for their blood. (Yes, they really use the word nerd.) Zoey is SHOCKED and DISMAYED by this and vows to end this outrage!

So will Zoey rid the world of BJs and good times? Will she make vampyre sororities safe for nerds? Will BJ hater Erik fall for her? What kind of name is Aphrodite anyway? Is Zoey just Elizabeth Wakefield in a vampyre costume?

You are going to have to swallow your pride, wipe off that eyeliner and get to your local bookstore to find out. Or you can wait until I give away the ending when I tell you all about the ridiculousness of Book 2: Betrayed!

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