Caitlin – The Love Trilogy – #2 – Love Lost
February 11, 2011

Obviously, you should read my review of The Love Trilogy #1  Loving before you go any further.

When last we met our heroine, the RAVEN HAIRED Caitlin Ryan, she was blissfully in love with cleft-chinned cowboy Jed Michaels, but burdened with the guilty secret of her unintentional role in The Accident.

The Accident is a huge part of Loving and I probably should have explained it in more detail earlier, but it is so convoluted and ridiculous that I was hoping it would go away.  But no, The Accident is here to stay. Apparently, it cannot be contained by only one book! So, I will do my best to explain it to you, but please know in advance,  it is not going to make any sense. Because it actually doesn’t. Just go with it!

Here goes: Caitlin Ryan, RAVEN HAIRED rich bitch extraordinaire falls in love at first sight with Jed Michaels. Caitlin throws herself at Jed, but he isn’t interested because he thinks Caitlin is a bitch and Jed’s mother is a bitch and he just doesn’t like bitches.  Besides he’s already dating a scholarship girl named Diana. Jed is really into Diana, because she’s really poor and helpless and fragile and totally reminds him of his sister and apparently he’s into that kind of thing.   Meanwhile, Caitlin is producing a drag show at school – for charity of course – and needed a shovel for a prop. She uses this as a pretext to lurk over to the dean’s house – where Diana is babysitting – to see if Jed and Diana are making out or studying or something.  When Caitlin arrives at the house, Diana is inside answering the phone and the dean’s 6-year-old son Ian is contentedly playing in the yard by himself. Jed is nowhere to be found. No one sees Caitlin as she sneaks into the backyard and unlocks the shed to take a shovel. She’s in such a hurry to leave that she forgets to lock the shed. As soon as Caitlin is out of sight, Ian immediately wanders over to the shed, goes inside and eats a bunch of pesticides. He wanders back out and then falls down, hits his head and slips into a coma. Eventually, he wakes up, but he’s mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down.

Everyone blames The Accident on Diana, because she wasn’t watching Ian and must have left the shed unlocked. Even thought Diana knows she locked the shed, she also knows no one else could have left it unlocked. But, no one knows that Caitlin was there, and of course Caitlin doesn’t confess. Confessing is for poor people! Diana feels extremely guilty about The Accident and drops out of school and breaks up with Jed and disappears.  Caitlin also feels really bad for her role in The Accident, and also for letting Diana take the fall, but not bad enough to keep her from scooping up Jed and making him her own.

When we rejoin this saga, Caitlin and Jed have been desperately and beautifully in love for months now.  The only thing that mars their perfect coupling is the secret of Caitlin’s role in The Accident.

Jed’s love has TOTALLY changed Caitlin! Nowadays, she spends her afternoons helping poor, paralyzed Ian learn to walk again. She tells herself that if she can help Ian walk again it will balance out her culpability. She’s like a miracle worker!  Ian loves her, his family loves her and even the professional medical staff is impressed by Caitlin’s almost supernatural healing abilities. Its like she was born to tend to sick people! Like it is in her genes or something (hint, hint)!

When she isn’t making miracles, Caitlin is kinda obsessed with the fate of Diana.  She asks around about her and eventually finds out that Diana is anorexic now and has been hospitalized. For some reason, everyone calls it “anorectic”, which is an official word but I don’t think it applies in this case. (Clearly, A LOT of medical research has gone into The Trilogies).  One of the best/worst parts of this epic tale is the misinformation about anorexia. Of course, Caitlin knows that this anorexia was caused by the guilt Diana feels about The Accident, and The Accident was really Caitlin’s fault and therefore Caitlin caused Diana’s anorexia! Of course she did! Because that’s totally how anorexia works! (It isn’t.)

Jed Michaels: Creepy Cleft-Chinned Cowboy

Remember how Caitlin wrote Jed a letter confessing her role in The Accident, but decided not to give it to him and instead hid the letter in book? Remember how that seemed like a bad idea? It totally was, because Jed finds the letter and he is PISSED. He actually wants to kill Caitlin, but decides that maybe he will just rape her instead. Seriously.

Thankfully, he decides at the last minute that while Caitlin deserved to be raped, he just couldn’t do it, so he just goes back to Montana for the summer.

Confused and hurt, Caitlin knows that she can’t live without Jed so she decides she needs to do something to prove to Jed how sorry she is for lying about The Accident. I mean, a girl can’t just give up on a guy just because he tries to rape her, right?

Its pretty obvious what Caitlin needs to do to make things right. She immediately tracks down Diana at the Eating Disorder Hospital and – using a fake name and wearing a disguise – she signs up as a volunteer.

This is not just any disguise, you guys.

It isn’t like she just puts on glasses with a fake nose and mustache attached and calls it good. No, this is a serious disguise. Caitlin slicks her hair back, uses makeup to make herself pale and tired looking, gets some frumpy clothes, puts on a pair of glasses and – presto-chango! – she is unrecognizable!

Having basically morphed into someone else, Caitlin becomes a volunteer at the hospital, passing out magazines and books to the patients.  When she finds Diana catatonic and refusing to eat, she requests that the hospital allow her to try to help the girl. Obviously, they agree.  How could they not? Who wouldn’t allow a random teenager unfettered access to a severely mentally ill patient?

So, armed with a couple of library books on anorexia and a little elbow grease,  Caitlin cures Diana of anorexia!

Initially, Caitlin’s treatment plan of  holding Diana’s hand and whispering generic encouragement in her ear doesn’t work. In desperation, she whispers to Diana that the accident wasn’t her fault and that someone else had left the shed unlocked. Obviously, this totally does the trick and Diana wakes up and starts eating again.

All of the doctors and  hospital staff are thrilled and impressed by Caitlin. She’s like The Anorexia Whisperer!

At first, Diana doesn’t recognize Caitlin. How could she? Caitlin does have her hair in a bun and is wearing glasses. She thinks that Caitlin is just a random traveling miracle worker named “Karen Martin”. But, as Caitlin’s anorexia treatments continue, Diana starts to think that she recognizes Caitlin’s voice. Unsure of herself, Diana invites Laurence, another Highgate Student who knows both girls to help her decide if “Karen Martin” is really Caitlin Ryan. Laurence, who must have x-ray vision or something to see through Caitlin’s brilliant disguise, immediately recognizes her.

But, instead of immediately confronting “Karen”, Laurence and Diana just play along with the charade. Well, that’s probably easier. It might be awkward to point out that Caitlin is wearing a disguise and pretending to be a different person while performing amateur eating disorder treatments.

Meanwhile, Diana’s doctor – the handsome, dark-haired Dr. Westlake – also recognizes Caitlin. After taking to Diana, who tells him that “Karen Martin” = Caitlin Ryan, Dr. Westlake realizes that Caitlin is the daughter of a girl who he had loved and lost 17 years ago – a girl named Laura Ryan (DUN DUN DUN!). Dr Westlake remembers meeting Regina Ryan (AKA Mean Old Grandma) back in the day and decides to pay her a visit to talk about her amazing granddaughter, The Anorexia Whisperer.

Mean Old Grandma remembers Dr. Westlake and immediately announces that he is Caitlin’s father.

Of course he is.

Apparently Dr. Westlake and Laura had fallen in love in college, but Mean Old Grandma didn’t approve, and forbid them to be together. Before she could tear Laura away from the then-struggling medical student, Laura got knocked up. Mean Old Grandma forced Laura to leave without out even saying goodbye to her love, and Dr. Westlake never heard from them again.  Laura died giving birth to Caitlin and Mean Old Grandma became her guardian. For convenience’s sake, Mean Old Grandma lied to Caitlin and told her that her father intentionally abandoned her. But in truth, Dr. Westlake didn’t even know she existed.

Now, Dr. Westlake is all excited to tell Miracle Worker Caitlin Ryan that he’s her father.

But, instead of being happy, Caitlin is furious. She thinks Dr. Westlake is lying and that he did abandon her and she hates him. Mean Old Grandma would never lie to her! (BTW, she TOTALLY would.)

But, now that her cover is blown by her super-sleuting secret father, Caitlin has to confess to Diana who she really is and the real reason that she is there at the hospital. In disguise. Curing anorexia. AWKWARD!

Love Lost circa 1991

But, Diana isn’t mad at Caitlin at all!  She forgives Caitlin for her role in The Accident and they become really good friends. At the end of the summer, Diana leaves the hospital and moves away, but she and Caitlin vow to be BFFs. Oh and Caitlin starts dating Diana’s friend Laurence, but she just can’t forget about Jed. How could she? Yes, he’s a douchebag with an Oedipus complex, but he does have a cleft chin and rides horses so Caitlin can’t just let a guy like that go!

What will happen when Caitlin and Jed return to Highgate Academy in the fall? Stay tuned for True Love.

Awesome Outfit: Violet Ball gown with a scooped neck and puffed sleeves ending at a row of buttons at the wrist

Cover Art: The original cover of this book (featured at the top of this post) is one of the best of the series. The 1990s reissue of the series to your left is also amazing in its awfulness.

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Sunset High – #1 – Getting Experienced
February 2, 2011

As you can see from the image to your left, this is yet another YA nostalgia read. One day, I will read another modern book – I swear! – but its going to be difficult. What with the Trilogy of Trilogies and my latest muse, Sunset High.

Perhaps I’m just dizzy from the low expectations set by my previous read – Loving – but I seriously think these books are freaking awesome.

Oh. Is that doubt I’m sensing?

Before we go any further, I think you should know something: Joan Collins makes a cameo appearance in this book.

That’s correct. JOAN F*CKING COLLINS. Of Dynasty and general 80s fabulousness!

She has actual lines and interacts with Nadia Laurence – Sunset High’s resident Poor Little Rich Girl.

Now, I know that Caitlin Ryan is RAVEN HAIRED and lives part time in a house with a name (Ryan Acres).  I haven’t finished the trilogies, but I’m pretty damn sure that JOAN F*CKING COLLINS dosen’t appear even once.

Nadia Laurence is a bitch of epic proportions, as well as super-rich and neglected by a busy parental figure.  But instead of organizing a drag show/costume contest like Caitlin Ryan – she attends the Academy Awards and hangs out with  JOAN F*CKING COLLINS.

So right off the bat, Nadia kicks Caitlin’s ass.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Our heroine, Kristin Sullivan, and her family have just moved to Beverly Hills from Minnesota. So she’s kind of like a non-bitchy, twin-less  Brenda Walsh!  Kristin is athletic, fun and freckle-faced. She’s one of those unpretentiously pretty girls, who dosen’t even know she’s pretty. I know, right? Gag.

But, its hard to hate Kristin because she’s really nice and has a normal relationship with her parents and the world in general. While she has episodes of self doubt, she has an actual personality and dosen’t even seem to despise herself. How refreshing!

At her old school, Kristin was a fearlessly popular cheerleader, who had a million friends and everybody loved her. In Beverly Hills, she’s just a boring old farm girl. Its like a totally different world in the 90210. For one, there’s no cheerleading! WTF?  At Sunset High, no one give a shit about sports, but there is a media class where the students make elaborate music videos. Kristin’s dancing skills make a great addition to the music video being produced by dark haired, blue eyed Grady Larkin. Grady clearly loves Kristin on sight and she feels tingly whenever he’s near.

Kristin also befriends Monica Miller, a 16 year old washed up child star trying to rekindle her career, without much success. As a child, Monica was on a show called The Twain Family, which seems similar to Little House On The Prairie.  But she hasn’t worked in years, despite auditioning religiously. Also, Monica has a mullet, wears pink overalls and high heels and rides a motor scooter. But that’s not weird or anything.

OMG. Camp Beverly Hills. Its like a drug flashback, right?

Things are going great with Grady and Kristin. They go on the cutest date EVER to a movie screening. Kristin is feeling insecure about being so Minnesota in Beverly Hills, so she buys a weird ass outfit from the store Camp Beverly Hills. It involves a scarf wrapped around her shoulders and it makes it hard to use her arms. Perfect date outfit, right? Kristin tries acting aloof and cool, and Grady is clearly confused by her insane outfit and attitude change. The date is soooooo awkward, until they stop at a batting cage and Kristin ditches the scarf and hikes up her skirt and they have a great time hitting balls for hours. (Not like that, Pervs!)

BUT, one night after drinking a beer Kristin almost goes too far with Grady and things get weird between them. (Teenage drinking! Bonus Points!) Oh, also – according to Grady, all Beverly Hills parents let their teenagers drink beer. So, Beverly Hills is officially teenage heaven!

Meanwhile, Nadia’s insecure attention is divided between attending the Academy Awards and trying to star in Grady’s music video.

Nadia’s dad is a famous movie producer whose movie The Last Stranger has been nominated for Best Picture. Nadia ‘s parents aren’t getting along so Nadia gets to be his date for the Oscars. This is very cool and Nadia buys a lovely white gown from Giorgio of Beverly Hills and is understandably really excited.

Please keep in mind that Nadia is also batshit crazy. She’s a bit of a pathological liar who is waaaaaay too into going on a date with her dad. She is apparently afflicted with both OCD and such dramatically low self worth that every weekend she uses her personalized stationary to score and graph the popularity of all the girls at school. Sadly, Nadia always comes up short. That’s pretty much low self esteem personified, isn’t it? She invented the scoring system and she assigns the scores, but she loses every week.

None of this matters, because while at the Academy Awards, Nadia and her father encounter JOAN F*CKING COLLINS. Miss Collins recalls a movie she made with Nadia’s father and calls Nadia “a stunner” before wandering off. Other famous actors of the 80s are spotted at the awards, like Cher and Ryan O’Neal and Sally Field, but they are not cool enough to have actual lines.

Chilling with JOAN F*CKING COLLINS and (**Spoiler Alert!**) watching her dad win an Oscar isn’t good enough for our stunning little sociopath. At the awards, Nadia is seated next to fictional movie star Scott Sawyer. She manages to spin this brief interaction into a whole fake relationship and tells everyone at school that they totally hooked up and are in love and he’s gonna be her date to the school dance.

At the same time, Nadia is positively sick with jealousy every time she sees Kristin.  So, in an attempt to destroy her perceived competition, she capitalizes on the awkwardness between Kristin and Grady and convinces Kristin that Grady is cheating on her.

But then, Kristin finds out that Nadia invented her romance with Scott Sawyer and she calls her out on it. Nadia begs Kristin not to tell anyone about her ridiculous lie . In a rookie move, Nadia tries to gain Kristin’s loyalty by admitting that Grady wasn’t cheating on her. But, Kristin wasn’t going to tell anyone about Nadia’s psychotic lies anyway. Kristin gets back together with Grady and everything turns out just lovely.

What random celebrity shout-outs and confusing fashion choices await us in Sunset High Book # 2 – A Chance to Make It? Stay tuned and find out!

Awesome outfits:

  • Form fitting khaki jumpsuit
  • Aforementioned pink overalls/high heels/mullet
  • Huge blouse, giant belt, fringed scarf wrapped weirdly around shoulders topped off with pink bobby socks and high heeled pumps

Cover Art:

I don’t have to say anything, do I? Just look at it.

Caitlin: The Love Trilogy: Loving (#1)
January 30, 2011

God, that’s a long title for a book.

It does sound fancy though dosen’t it? And this book is nothing if not fancy!

On the surface, Caitlin Ryan is your standard issue Poor Little Rich Girl. She’s raven haired, beautiful and unapologetically bitchy and cruel.  Despite being worshiped by not just the students of Highgate Academy – the super-fancy boarding school that she attends – but pretty much the world in general, Caitlin is sad and lonely. She’s vaguely an orphan and lives with her Mean Old Grandma, Regina Ryan. Regina owns a coal mine, and is terribly wealthy and cold-hearted. Despite being old, she’s a super-modern liberated woman who is too busy being rich to  tolerate her granddaughter so she has sent her to a nearby boarding school.

Regina’s only interest in Caitlin is as something she can parade in front of mining industry people, to further her Mean Old Mining agenda. Its a little weird how much the mining industry is discussed in this book, considering that most of the characters don’t even receive physical descriptions. As I recall, the later books actually delve into the mortality behind treatment of mine workers and the environmental impact of strip mining.

Seriously.

We are supposed to hate Mean Old Grandma, but its hard.  Highgate Academy is freaking awesome. This may be where my Boarding School obsession began. Set in the rolling hills of Virginia, there are stables and riding paths and the dining hall is like the fanciest country club ever!  It features mahogany paneling and crystal chandeliers and everything! Caitlin’s dorm room is even awesomer than the rest of the school because her Mean Old Grandma tricked it out with mahogany bookshelves, a stereo and custom made drapes.

I also don’t see how we can feel sorry for Caitlin – she is living the teenage dream. She’s the richest rich girl ever and lives a life blissfully free from meddling parents or financial limitations. She has her own horses and when not at fancy-fancy Highgate Academy, she lives right around the corner at her grandmother’s resort-like palatial estate – Ryan Acres.  That’s right, a house with a name! (This is something I discovered with Gone With The Wind, and I have never really let go of. If I could get away with naming my house, I would TOTALLY do it!)

Plus she has RAVEN HAIR and sparkly blue eyes and is driven around in a sick Bentley by a chauffeur named Rollins.

I think we are supposed to be learning a lesson about how money dosen’t buy love, but I’m not learning shit because life is pretty awesome for Caitlin. When she wants to attract the attention of a boy at school, she just invites a dozen of her closest friends back to Ryan Acres for a fabulous weekend riding horses and lounging in luxury.

When Caitlin hears an awesome idea for a school fundraiser, she blatantly steals it. The girl she steals it from is named Tenny, and she dosen’t even bother to protest. That’s right, her name is Tenny. What is Tenny short for? Tennis? Tennessee? We will never know.

But, its not just any idea that Caitlin is stealing. Tenny has suggested that they sell tickets to a boys beauty pageant, where the boys dress in drag. Clearly, Caitlin cannot allow a girl named Tenny to take credit for an idea of that caliber. And even though you might think that a drag show starring wealthy teen-aged soccer players might be in questionable taste – everyone loves the idea initially.

When the boys have a moment to consider the ramifications of prancing around on stage in drag, they protest weakly, and Caitlin brilliantly twists the idea so that boys can also dress in costumes like napoleon and superman. Um, ok…. Whatever. This pageant is all window dressing for the real story here: the insane and dysfunctional love story of Caitlin and Jed Michaels.

Jed is a really hot cowboy from Montana with wavy hair and a hot body. Caitlin thinks its revolutionary that  Jed wears cowboy clothes. Its just so edgy! Also, his pants are tight. Jed is is new to Highgate, and Caitlin is immediately smitten. They bond over horseback riding and dysfunctional families.

Jed, however, has taken an interest in a scholarship girl named Diana. Caitlin is understandably horrified that Jed would take an interest in a poor person, who doesn’t even ride horses! Diana is from a trashy family and has to babysit for a teacher to afford to stay at the fancy school.

Despite Caitlin’s almost magical powers of manipulation, she is unable to distract Jed from Diana. Until, through a confusing series of events, Caitlin’s negligence results in the kid Diana babysits getting poisoned, and Diana is blamed.  Diana drops of out school and disappears.

Caitlin’s Mean Old Grandma forgets her birthday and dosen’t show up to watch the cross-dressing costume pageant. In addition, she feels really guilty for her part in the accidental poisoning  – oh that somehow leads to the kid being paralyzed, which really dosen’t make much sense, but whatever. Distraught, Caitlin dramatically rides her horse off in the rain, crying about how everywhere she goes, misery and death follow. She realizes that the reason Mean Old Grandma avoids her birthday is that Caitlin’s mother died giving birth to her, and even her birthday is shrouded in darkness and death.

Being emo and riding horses in the rain leads to Caitlin contracting pneumonia, and having to stay in bed at Ryan Acres for weeks, wishing she had died. Its totally melodramatic and dark and I know I loved it when I read this book back in the day.

The whole pneumonia/kid poisoning episode TOTALLY CHANGES Caitlin, and when she returns to school she has become an old lady who hates parties and just wants to sit in the corner. Well, this was the best move ever because Jed LOVES girls that sit in corners and he immediately wants to get all up on her.

With Diana gone, Jed – who apparently has a fetish for sad girls – falls for Caitlin.

Jed tells Caitlin that he never really loved Diana. He realizes now that he was just into her because she was quiet and sad and reminded him of his sister. He also tells Caitlin he didn’t like her initially because he thought she was shallow, manipulative and flirtatious, which reminded him of his mother. But, now that Caitlin is sad and broody he’s totally into her. Um. Is it just me, or does Jed have a thing for his sister???

Oh who cares if its creepy, because the love of Jed Michaels changes Caitlin into a totally different person who is happy and nice and actually cares about other people. You see, all Caitlin needed to be human was the love of a sexy cowboy in tight corduroy jeans.

Only one thing mars the perfection that is the icky love of Jed Michaels,  and that is the teeny tiny secret that it was really Caitlin who caused the accident that paralyzed the kid and drove Diana back to the trailer park. Caitlin decides that she cannot keep the secret any longer and writes Jed a letter confessing her part in the accident. But, she just can’t bring herself to give him the letter, because she fears that he will stop loving her and obviously the world will end. So she does what anyone would do. She hides the letter in a book of love poems that she places upon the mahogany bookshelf in her dorm room.

You guys don’t think that someone is going find that letter in The Love Trilogy #2 – Love Lost, do you???

Let’s talk cover art. I was pretty sad when my copy of this book arrived from amazon, as did not feature the epic painting you see above. Instead, I received a version so bizarre that I can’t even find it on the internet. Apparently these books were re-issued in the early 90s and they decided to use a cover model. She kind of looks like Jamie Gertz and its wearing leather gloves and holding a riding crop. Its awful.

Finally, the best part about reading 1980s era YA is the awesome outfits. Caitlin wears such fashionable items as a pink and magenta taffeta dress, an indigo jumpsuit and a black leather pants suit. Oh if only these books came with pictures!

Up next: Love Lost.

The House of Night #1 – Marked (or The Wakefield Twins go Twilight!)
April 18, 2010

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!