Zoe's Reviews > Marked

Marked by P.C. Cast
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Aug 22, 10

bookshelves: dark-fantasy, ya, print-books
Read from August 16 to 22, 2010

Let me preface what you're about to read with the admission that I have already bought Betrayed AFTER reading 90% of Marked, and in spite of everything I'm about to write, I fully intend to read the next book in the House of Night series. Part of this is because in spite of this book's many, many, MANY flaws, it is still entertaining. And I mean that in a guilty pleasure, "I totally love to hate you" kind of way.

This is a fan fiction that somehow got published anyway. I'm not saying it's a lousy fan fiction, and for many years, I was a regular in newsgroups reading anime fan fiction not too dissimilar to this. So I was willing to stick with it, even if many times I rolled my eyes hard enough to see my own brain.

Marked is a story that came about after a Harry Potter fanfic and a Twilight fanfic got drunk and played seven minutes in heaven in J.K. Rowling's walk-in closet. These vampyres (note the spelling) don't sparkle, but their clothing does, a lot. And all vampyres, except the red shirts, are pretty and perfect. They don't have fangs, and the sun just makes them woozy. In this world vampyres make The Change, which is foreshadowed by A Tracker showing up to totally humiliate you in front of all your old friends. Seems like Trackers might show up at home, like, before school. Or after. After's good too.

But no, Zoey gets Marked at school, which means she has a crescent moon on her forehead to show off to her friends and make them run away. In The Change, this is the first vampyre zit. So embarrassing! Like, ohmygod!

Zoey soon runs away from home and thumps her noggin, and then meets the Goddess of night, Nyx, who at this point should have just said, "Zoey, I am Mrs. Cast, and I love you so much that I'm going to give you every gift you could ever possibly want, and then some."

And that's exactly what happens. Zoey comes to a school where she only has four classes, and one of them is riding ponies. No, seriously. She has a cat, but then everyone owns long hair cats, and yet there's no cat hair on anyone. (And as a former long hair cat owner and lover of black clothing, let me point out how this is not happening in real life without three chapters dedicated to lint brush chores.) Zoey has two boyfriends. One is human, and is "the best quarterback his team has had in 16 years." The other is the next great vampyre acting sensation...what? Oh, yeah vampyres are out of the closet in this world, and they're everyone. No, Shakespeare was a vampyre. ALL of the Amazons were too. Garth Brook is, George Clooney is... Actually, most anyone who's totally awesome is a vampyre. BUT, humans still hate vampyres. Just because.

Anyway, once you become Marked, you have to go to the vampyre school House of Night, or you will hack up blood and die. Because vampyre super puberty is location sensitive. But once you get to the school, that zit on your forehead instantly makes you prettier, somehow. It's a certain indefinable writer's indulgence that made my head hurt thinking about it. But Zoey's mark is even more specialer, because it's filled in, the sign of a mature vampyre, even though she's just a fledgling.

If this gift giving and perfect pretty princess scenario wasn't already bad enough, the story starts in the House of Night with Zoey witnessing a pathetic attempt at a near blow job from her soon to be rival, Aphodite. Zoey then spends every other chapter lecturing the reader how dumb oral sex is. No, she's not talking to anyone, she just, starts, lecturing. So people who like giving blow jobs are dumb. (bing) She also hits on how dumb pot users are, (bing) people with loose sexuality being dumb, (bing) and anti-alcohol lectures to say that anyone who drinks as a teen is dumb. (bing again! The ladies win a kewpie doll!) There was a lecture almost every chapter. There was more lecture than there was actual plot.

And Zoey, although claiming she has made out before, is a major prude. When she has a big kiss moment with her movie star boyfriend, she ruins it by thinking "Like, ohmygod, I'm a slut for kissing him HARD." The boyfriend also ruins it by talking. He does that a lot, actually. For an actor, he's got a bizarre "gift" for always saying something stupid.

I digress, it's not really Zoey making these lectures. Every single time that a lecture begins, I can literally see Momma Cast pushing aside her character to say "Now you girls listen to me about how good girls act. Okay, Zoey, now you can get back to the story." WhatEVER, lady. Can we just get on with the story in progress without finding yet another reason to call me dumb?

Someone suggested to me that being that I'm no longer a teen, I should ignore the lectures. But when I was a teen, I was one of the "dumb" kids who Zoey, and by extension, the Casts, keep talking down to. So yeah, it's a bit irritating. And I really don't think calling people dumb is going to convince them of your view anyway. So it's not just lecturing. It's BAD lecturing.

Now, add to these problems the fact that Zoey is REALLY special. Like she's the only high priestess ever who is able to summon all five elements for rituals. Stop and think about that. The only person, ever, in the history of a world full of magic. Yes, Zoey is that big of a Mary Sue. Two hot guys as boyfriends, a perfect magic score, an accelerated growth pattern that makes her stronger and cooler than other fledglings, and a heightened blood lust which isn't supposed to happen until years later.

This super puberty is supposed to be fatal to one in ten vampyres, but you can be sure it won't hit relevant characters. Instead it hits two red shirts who both have almost zero character development.

And character development here is putting it nicely, since everyone, friend, foe, and main character, are all walking stereotypes. There's the hick friend, the black friend who needs help with English as a first language, the black friend's white "twin" who she always bickers with, and the "safe gay" guy who still manages to say boobs with the same frequency as Zoey. The school rival is a stereotypical slut who never manages to be anyone but Draco Malfoy in a dress for me. Her hag friends are actually named after greek hags. The only thing missing is a black vampyre janitor who always says "Sho' 'nuff," and "Damn" at all the right moments. (His facial tattoos would be little tribal brooms.)

The story focuses mostly on trivial stuff going on in classes and school ritual, with the plot always falling into Zoey's lap while she was doing something else. It's the Harry Potter school of mystery solving: Zoey doesn't have to do anything right to solve it, really. The mystery will solve itself because it all relates to Zoey anyway. Because she's super special. "And special can be something amazing." (Actual quote from the hot guy boyfriend. Made my eye twitch something fierce, it did.)

Now, here's the thing. The minor glimpses of plot were intensely fascinating. Okay, these aren't Earth C vampires. Once I set that aside, I find myself wondering what the adults are up to, and what is happening to the kids who die and fail to make The Change.

Despite Zoey being a prude, she's still got enough spunk to be likable. Also, I have the strictest assurances of a friend that all of my complaints vanish in chapter two of Book two, Betrayed. I hope so. At the very least, I hope the lecturing goes away. I'm on the other side of the planet from my parents for a reason, yo.

So yes, it's fan fiction. Yes, Zoey is a major Mary Sue who needs to tone down her lecturing. But it's not atrocious fan fiction, and I'd be willing to buy the rest of the series if the plot is going somewhere new.

But I don't have high hopes either. The conclusion comes out of nowhere, like Twilight, and then there's a big magical fight, like Harry Potter. Then a little more plot is given away via a clue bat, and the story concludes with Zoey leveling up and getting new tattoos that make her even more awesome and special than everybody else. She becomes the high priestess, saves the night, (and her idiot boyfriends, unfortunately) and everybody loves her. Yayzorz! (*^_^)*

What I'm saying is, there are plenty of valid reasons to avoid this story. There are pleanty of valid reason to make fun of me for reading it, really. I think I should avoid it as well, if it makes you feel any better.

But I still found the story entertaining, so I'm going to give it three stars and recommend it to people who thought Twilight was nice, but felt that Bella needed superpowers and a valid excuse to do both Jacob and Edward at the same time.
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