Zoey Redbird is without a doubt a troubled teen trying to hold things together when we're first introduce***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***
Zoey Redbird is without a doubt a troubled teen trying to hold things together when we're first introduced to her. Abandoned as a child by her father, her mother has remarried to an emotionally abusive religion freak who treats her mother like a scared and willful child and becomes jealous even if her mother shows attention or affection to her own children. Stuck in those teen years her siblings who are only barely mentioned other than in passing and don't actually appear in the novel haven't learned how to be anything but rivals with her and the only places she feels at home are at school and at her grandmother's home that her stepfather doesn't approve of her visiting. When she is Marked as a vampire and made an outcast in her own school even that ceases to feel at home and she forced to move into the House of Night, a Vampire boarding school that holds the only answers that might prevent her from dying of the sickness overcoming her as a sign of being marked. She's has two choices, become what she thinks of as a monster, the vampyre she's destined to be, or to lay down and die. Fortunately for readers, Zoey isn't ready to lay down and die.
In the path to accepting her fate she is visited by Nyx the Vampire Goddess among other things and marked as the eyes and ears of the goddess herself. While being different in hours and coursework, the school is very reminiscent of your average high school right down to the awful mean girl that everyone pretends to adore while secretly hating. Because of her calling, that she shares with no one Zoey starts right out standing out because her mark, which should only be an outline as a fledgling is already filled in. From there you follow her on a journey to realizing that being different isn't always wrong and finding her path to growing up, by accepting her gifts and using them to do what's right. While there is a small love story within the story, it's not prevalent enough to be mentioned and at this point in the series seems more like a crush than actual love.
I'll begin with mentioning the major problem with this book, basically it's that it was a mother daughter team and what teenager daughter is going to tell her mother that she swears, or ever really does anything wrong and what mother is going to create a character with any moral imperfections if she's writing a story with her daughter? The character flaws are understandable because of the dynamic between the writers of this book, however that doesn't make them any less annoying to the reader. Because of the lack of real honesty between the pair, which is totally common of course, and not an insult, it's the way of the world, Zoey Redbird, the main character of this novel is like a walking Just Say NO campaign. I mean no I don't want to read about a sex crazed, drug addicted, alcoholic teenager who swears like a sailor drunk at a bar. However for her generation she's way beyond prim and proper and delving into prude. While I'll admit there are a few teens like that in the world, those are not the same teens that are dating the quarterback of the football team or rather in her case fending him off. She doesn't curse, she thinks oral sex is being used and demoralized, she won't go out with the quarterback because he drinks and she lectures her friends on the dangers of drinking and smoking. She says words like poopy. What teenager says poopy? Teenage girls realistically think about sex, consider things like oral and regular sex even if they aren't ready to cross that line and actually do anything beyond a chaste kiss. It's part of puberty and it's unrealistic that the thought never even crosses this characters mind and while I don't expect her to curse like a sailor, typical teenagers do curse at least occasionally. And while I'll buy that she's strong enough to resist the peer pressure to drink or do drugs, many teens can, I will not buy that she gives an adult-like lecture to her friends on the dangers of the habits and what influences those habits could have on their future. And if by chance she did do these things she wouldn't be the type of person that got invited to the in crowd parties or attracted the attention of anyone on the football team. I don't care how beautiful she is, even in high school her personality would be off-putting enough that the in-crowd would avoid her. They might talk about her behind her back and the things they'd like to do to her body, but they wouldn't even attempt to date her because being around her would be a complete drag. If the character had been a little more realistic in her behavior concerning real life teenage dangers, this book would have easily been a 5 star novel for me. But as I already mentioned the fact that she isn't doesn't really surprise me.
I read this book in only a couple of hours, it was well paced and easy to read. I didn't even notice the time passing until I'd reached the last page and got annoyed with myself for not having already purchased the entire series. I only bought the first book because I didn't want to invest a bunch of money only to end up hating the series. You sort of have to be cautious in your purchases as an adult reader of young adult novels, some series just aren't mature enough for an adult reader to still enjoy them. That doesn't lessen them as a novel, it just means it's not the type of story that transcends age ranges. This series however is both mature enough for an adult to enjoy and for the most part clean enough to feel safe handing over to a child. The only really questionable scene involves Zoey accidentally walking in on a teenage couple performing oral sex in a hallway. Having said that if your child is old enough to understand there isn't a stork, she's probably mature enough for this book. It's a story about being different being better because you accept and embrace your difference and a story about understanding what a true friend really is and does. Yes it has the excitement and dark suspense of a vampire novel mixed with teen angst, but even with that as of yet, the Cast duo hasn't really made blood, or drinking blood a constant in the book.
My final comment is for those who question if the book is anti-religion or anti-Christianity. I definitely have to firmly disagree with that, the religious faction within the novel The People of the Faith are never described as a typical church or religion, the behavior and zealousness is clearly characteristic of a religious cult. There's a big difference between the Waco compound and the Catholic Church and the behavior displayed by members of this religion fall just short of Waco. The behavior of the religious members mentioned in the story would never be accepted or approved of by any current organized religion unless it was a cult. Even Christianity or Catholicism is about belief, and faith, it isn't about control, where as this religion as well as any actual cult is about the same thing - control. Unless the writers themselves were to come out and say this was meant to bash on organized faith, I'd never view this story as bashing on Christianity or anti-organized religion. If the People of the Faith were anything other than a cult the writers I would hope would have given them at least some compassion and reason even if they didn't agree with the religious beliefs of Christianity. I can't see the Pope or the whatever other major religion figureheads are out there approving of a cult and all this story demonstrates is that the authors don't either.
The book is definitely a must read if you like young adult paranormal stories. I look forward to the next in the series, though I can't help but hope that Zoey stops carrying her Just Say No sign in the next story....more