After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is mis-using her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them)
I checked this book out from my local library because they simply had so many of the books in this one series. Many of the other series were spread out amongst all the branches in the city, so this one was easy. I have SO many issues with this book, it isn’t even funny.
Let’s start with Zoe. I was okay with her for most of the book. Then, close to the middle, she is reunited with her best friend Kayla and her ex-boyfriend Heath. When Kayla is showing an interest in Heath, she calls her a “cheating cow” out loud and a slut in her head. She was no longer interested in Heath, what was it to her if Kayla showed an interest in him? Even though he was an idiot and a drunk, if she wants him, what is it to Zoe? She got rid of him. Zoe literally judges everyone she meets, and never judges herself for doing nearly the same thing half the time. Zoe was the one who leads Heath on, just to end up going out with Erik.
Let’s also talk about Erik. She first meets him when Aphrodite is all over him, trying to give him a blowjob in the school hallway, and he is trying to get away from her. How this came off as sexy, I don’t know. All of a sudden, Erik is the man of Zoe’s dreams, and she is willing to go up against Aphrodite to fight for him. I don’t know why he was even sexy to her. Why would he go for a girl like Aphrodite and then jump to Zoe? Zoe doesn’t even know if he is a player or not.
I think that the character I had the biggest issue with was Damien. He was the typical “gay best friend” who was included to give the book “diversity” most likely. But by including him, the story put down all the other gay people at the school. In his description paragraph, Zoe thinks “Actually he was cute. Not in the overly girly way so many teenage guys are when they decide to come out and tell everyone what everyone already knew (well everyone except their typically clueless and/or in denial parents). Damien wasn’t a swishy girly-guy...” When I read this on pages 81 and 82 of my novel, I had to take a moment and reread it. I almost put the book down right then. There is NOTHING wrong with being a gay guy who acts stereotypically “feminine”. People should be allowed to be whoever they want without judgment. You can’t act like you support the gay community, and then say that you don’t like those “girly guys.” They count, and they matter. This makes Zoe no better than people who bully gay guys at school for wearing too many “girly clothes” and things. To have this in a semi-popular YA novel just disappoints me. Damien also proceeds to call the band members “band fags.” Yes, this was the quote. Stevie calls him out on this, saying “isn’t it disrespectful to your gayness to call them band fags” but then he just says dismissively “I’m using the word as a term of endearment.” I’ve never heard a gay person in real life call that word a term of endearment. Ever. Also, it seems to be akin to the in-real-life use of the N-word by black people as a “term of endearment.” It’s almost as if the Casts were trying to put their own spin on a completely different issue, and it just ended up being really tasteless.
This doesn’t stop here though. Stevie also mentions that there are other gay boys at the school, but that they were “too weird and girly” for Damien. This was page 95, if you need proof again. Why couldn’t the author just say that Damien wasn’t interested in the guys? Just because Damien is gay doesn’t mean that he will be interested in every single boy in the school that breathes in front of him. But instead, the Casts try to instill the fact that being a “feminine” gay guy is bad. At this point, I REALLY wanted to just put the book down, but I decided to finish it.
My criticism of the characters is not even done. As a black girl, I am always looking for non-stereotypical representation of black or African American characters in YA books. This book does have black characters, and the main character is supposed to be Cherokee, but none of them are portrayed in a good light.
Zoe has a dysfunctional family with a “gullible” mother and a horrible stepfather. Her grandmother tries to teach her some Cherokee tradition, but this is the only thing that makes her anything other than your typical white YA protagonist.
The only two black characters that I saw were Shaunee and Deino. Shaunee is the stereotypical “loud, angry black woman.” Even though she has a white “Twin,” this could just be being used to cover up how poorly she was written. Her literal first sentence, or sentences, in the novel, are as follows: “Okay, please! Just please. Did nobody….think to bother to wake me the hell up and tell me that we were going to dinner?” Then she playfully threatens to cut off her roommate’s hair in the middle of the night. It’s just, is this the real personality she is going to have for the rest of the series? No one really likes being around these types of “constantly angry” personalities.
Deino’s name means terrible, and she is one of Aphrodite’s crazy best friends. even though she might seem to be more “put together”, she is still a villain in the story.
I don’t know if there are any more characters of color in this story, but as you can see, this novel is truly lacking. I could talk about how the plot is boring and how I didn’t feel immersed in the new world of this story, but that would be another 1000 words for you to read. There’s still much more left to be said, but what I’ve already said has probably put you off of starting this series. Please, do not waste your time with this. I am a little tempted to see the next book to see what other disturbing things I can pick up, but I don’t think I have the time or energy.
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 stars