House of Night Series Review: Marked, Part Three – Plot? What Plot?

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If you weren’t already turned off by the asshole characters and nasty stereotypes, the writing “style” would almost undoubtedly seal the deal, as far as making Marked unreadable. As you might have gathered from reading the thousands of quotes we’ve included in the past two reviews, Zoey’s narration is awful. It’s vapid, cruel, rambling, and full of insipid, pointless asides that do nothing but encourage you to nurture the hate already festering in your heart.

Her body was, well, perfect. She wasn’t thin like the freak girls who puked and starved themselves into what they thought was Paris Hilton chic. (“That’s Hott.” Yeah, okay, whatever, Paris.) This woman’s body was perfect because she was strong, but curvy. And she had great boobs. (I wish I had great boobs.)

“Huh?” I said. Speaking of boobs – I was totally sounding like one. (Boob…hee hee).
FSHHHHHHHFFFFFFF RAEG. Even ignoring the anorexic/”ideal” body comments, this STILL would be an embarassing, terribly-written sentence. “Boobs…hee hee”…? FONLFDSL:SDFLFDSN HOW IS THAT OKAY IN A PUBLISHED NOVEL? AND WHO IS SHE TALKING TO?

And she does this ALL THE TIME, OH GOD, every sentence is like jamming an ice pick into our frontal lobe.

SOB

As if the colloquial tone and skull-fucking asides weren’t enough, the shit cherry on top of the shit sundae has to be the obligatory eye-roll-inducing pop culture references and brand-label name-dropping. You’d think that at this point, this would be the least offensive item on the list, and yet each time they whip out a reference, it manages to be just irritating enough to worm its way under your skin, perhaps through the wounds every other awful part of the book has already made.

The series is obsessed with deeming real musicians and celebrities “vampyres” in the House of Night world, which accomplishes absolutely nothing aside from giving it a firm expiration date. Marked was only written four years ago, and yet already it feels dated and old. But of course, it doesn’t matter, because House of Night is not interested in aging well. It’s interested in appealing to the kids today, and they love hearing about those celebrities! Quick, Jake Gyllenhaal. Jake Gyllenhaal. JAKE GYLLENHAAL!

Jake Gyllenhaal?

Are we popular yet?

Unsurprisingly, given Zoey’s self-centered narration, there’s little to no showing of anything throughout the story. In fact, most times it doesn’t feel so much like literary prose as it does a story being recounted to you in person by an oxygen-deprived seagull. It’s tell, tell, tell, tell, tell, but we should probably be grateful, considering that the few times Marked even attempts to “show”, it comes in the form of shit like this:

I laughed, and it was amazing! I swear I could see my laughter floating around me like the puffy things you blow off a dandelion, only instead of being white it was birthday-cake-frosting-blue. Wow! Who knew hitting my head and passing out would be so much fun?
Fucking things? “Puffy things?” HOW IS THAT ACCEPTABLE WRITING? Could someone not have LOOKED IT UP, or perhaps found some “imagery” that didn’t involve the word things? RFNKDNFL:KSDNFSBDFOBUGKN!!!LKNFLNFF

*headsmash*

THIS BOOK IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD.

Also:

“Actually, word has it that he and Aphrodite used to be hooked up, but I’ve been here for a few months and it’s been over between them at least that long. Here ya go,” she tossed a couple of monologue books at me. “I’m Elizabeth, no last name.”

My face was a question mark.
AHAHAHAHA, no, literally, Zoey’s face is a question mark. We just, we just, whyyyyyy?

Not only are the occasional descriptions bad, but they’re re-used constantly. We vividly remember reading the exact same sequence of events every time Zoey casts a circle (CTRL+X, CTRL+V, easiest writing EVER), and yes, we get that Eric is cute, but the Superman reference, the “Clark Kent curl and blue eyes” description, gets trotted out three freaking times, which is just about EVERY TIME ERIC APPEARS. FIND A NEW DESCRIPTION. Oh, and also, we are not five, Marked, we can remember the “Cherokee word for daughter” without you having to repeat those exact words EVERY TIME SOMEONE SAYS IT, IN EVERY NEW BOOK AUGHALKNDF

This is your brain on House of Night
The plot is pretty much non-existent: Zoey gets Marked, is special, and has to move to VampireBoardingSchoolTopia. The conflict is inane: Zoey meets popular girl, decides she doesn’t like her, and stages a coup. Nope, sorry, not coup, coup implies planning and strategy and cunning, and none of those things were involved in the making of this plotline.

Really, what actually happens in Marked? Zoey gets Marked, she runs away from home, she falls and hits her head and gets touched by a goddess, she wakes up at the House of Night, she clashes with Aphrodite, her roommate introduces her to a group of friends who immediately love her, she goes to a circle where her powers manifest, she gets invited to a Dark Daughters meeting, she decides she needs to remove Aphrodite from power, but doesn’t know how, so she essentially “prays on it”. Luckily, the page count is running low, so she then attends a Dark Daughters ritual in which Aphrodite stupidly sets her self up for the kill.

Zoey’s one shining moment of action follows, and it’s pretty pathetically anti-climactic: she casts another circle, tells the bad spirits to go away, and they do, because Zoey is special and her powers just do literally whatever the fuck she tells them to. Oh yeah, and then Neferet is just magically and inexplicably there to witness it all and declare Zoey the victor.

Most boring battle EVER.

But seriously, this brings us back to a point we touched on earlier: for being Miss Super-Speshul-Affinity-With-Everything, Zoey is an incredibly inactive heroine. Out of that list of twelve plot-related things that happen throughout the course of the book, how many did Zoey actively contribute to? Like four, maybe, most of which were just making stupid decisions. Her most plot-relevant action is when she decides to follow through on that girl-hate by “deposing Aphrodite”, after which she promptly throws her hands up in surrender because she is so utterly useless that she has no idea how to actually do this. And instead of, say, having her come up with some ingenious idea, the book just lets the rest happen to her.

Zoey expels no effort to achieve her ends. She doesn’t have to learn anything in the way of summoning or controlling her powers – they just manifest and do her bidding. She never practices – casting and uncasting the circle just come naturally. She doesn’t have to try to fit in or make friends – they just fall in her lap and end up being “special” by proxy. And in the end, resolving the conflict is about as challenging for Zoey as bowling with bumper guards.

More importantly, however, the conflict is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. Aphrodite’s leadership of the Dark Daughters has absolutely nothing to do with the clusterfuck that follows in the rest of the series, so why are we dwelling on it?

Marked feels like so much catty, unnecessary flab – aside from a little bit of foreshadowing here and there, the book does very little to build up the overarching conflict. In our previous review, we said that it was a world-intro book, and that this made the lack of over-arching plot forgivable, but you know what? No, it doesn’t. Lots of series have proven that it’s absolutely possible to introduce the world while kicking off the plot, so why not use the first book to get the ball rolling?? Why stretch the series out any more than you have to?

LOL DUNNO, but rest assured, stretching shit out is what House of Night does best. It is on book number ten.

It’s probably redundant at this point, but this book is a stinking, vile turd. It offends us in every possible way, and what few interesting things we get out of the world just can’t make up for the pain it inflicts. We’ll keep plugging along with the series review to see if and/or how it improves, but the outlook is grim.

One Star


 

13 Responses

  1. Barbara W.

    June 12, 2012 11:55 pm, Reply

    I’ve been reading these as you go along and I swear, my love for you has been growing exponentially. Pretty soon, I’m going to start putting mash notes in your lockers.

    I can’t remember why I didn’t ever start reading Cast (I think one of them did the whole author behaving badly thing, maybe the mom?) but I’m really, really glad right now.

    What am I going to do when you run out of crap-ass books and have to go back to reading good stuff?

    • Kayla + Cyna

      June 13, 2012 10:55 pm, Reply

      😀 Just be sure to let us know how many children we’re going to have. They would undoubtedly be badass little rugrats ;D

      Oh yes, there might have been more, but from what we’ve read, Momma Cast shattered the shit out of the fourth wall to diss the people who called her out on her excessive use of the word “retard”. It’s truly, truly awful to read, and we’re definitely going to be expanding on that when we get to that book.

      Hahahahaha, luckily with this genre, I don’t think that’s ever going to be an issue ;D Hell, HoN alone could keep us busy for months xD

      Speaking of, your new Alyson Noel review…

  2. RogueFiccer

    June 17, 2012 7:21 pm, Reply

    Talent means something comes easier to you than it does to someone who isn’t naturally talented, nothing more. It does not mean you do not have to practice (and practice and practice and…), learn technique, and work for years on end to get good, and once you’re good, you have to continue to practice and take classes and work to stay at that level. YoYo Ma wasn’t playing Ode to Joy in a way that floored audiences with his artistry after a few lessons, Josh Groban wasn’t singing arias after a month or two with a voice teacher, and Michael Phelps didn’t swim like a fiend as soon as he learned how to keep himself afloat. Speaking of Phelps, he’s been working Very Hard to get himself in shape and ready for the London Olympics because he took time off from swimming after Beijing (?), and it was long enough his coach wasn’t sure he’d be ready in time.

    I’m looking forward to the next installment. Excellent job so far.

    • Kayla + Cyna

      June 18, 2012 3:34 pm, Reply

      Exactly – but Zoey has no awkward stages of development, and granted, my memory of the next few books is hazy, but I don’t recall her *ever* having any. The plot usually revolves around her boy trouble, and the conflict around finding a solution to problem x, and Zoey’s powers get very little, if any, development over the course of the series. She just DOES stuff, ugh.

      Which is, just, you know, utterly thrilling.

      Thanks much for your kind comments! 🙂

  3. pinkkisscandy

    June 17, 2012 11:35 pm, Reply

    I hate these almost as much as I hate Twilight and City of Bones. In case you’re wondering about the latter, Cassendra Claire used to be in the fanfic community and is a big time plagarizing bitch.

    • Kayla + Cyna

      June 18, 2012 3:36 pm, Reply

      Yeah, we’d heard about the Clare fanfic brouhahaha – but then, we hear bad things about Clare’s books in general. Kayla’s read and enjoyed them, but it was back around the same time as we read and enjoyed Marked, so yeah, that may have changed.

      Perhaps we’ll make it around to those books someday.

  4. Natalie (Mindful Musings)

    June 21, 2012 9:12 pm, Reply

    I know House of Night has a lot of fans out there, but I honestly had a lot of the same issues you guys did. Believe it or not, I read the first five books before finally calling it quits. It’s normally next to impossible for me NOT to finish a series once I’ve started (don’t ask me why), but I just couldn’t read anything else without getting aggravated.

    • Kayla + Cyna

      June 23, 2012 4:24 am, Reply

      Pretty much the exact same story for us. We got to Burned before we just stopped reading them, despite, like you said, being completists. Guess this review series’ll fix that.

      It’s because House of Night is so popular that they trouble us so much, though. Honestly, if it were just some random series that nobody read, we probably wouldn’t bother. But the amount of love out there for this shit series is disturbing :/

  5. Elena

    August 14, 2012 7:07 pm, Reply

    Hey, I’ve just discovered your blog and must say that I agree with everything. I’ve started reading HoN years ago when I was 13 (I’n now 17) and at that point I loved it. Since then I’ve read better books and after reading your posts I’m surprised to see how many signs that scream ‘bad book’ escaped my attention. Even so I had my issues with the books at 13: the repetitive descriptions of casting a circle or of someone’s appearance, Zoey’s completely unnecesary boy problems, but what pissed me off most of all was Zoey’s style of narrating. I get it, it was aimed at teenagers but teens do not talk like idiots! Plus, the story drags on forever. I can’t even remember what happened from book 3 onward, except major plot points that take forever to happen and I’m on book 7. Most of the story is just filler at it’s worst.

  6. dreamworlder

    April 22, 2015 12:09 am, Reply

    “every sentence is like jamming an ice pick into our frontal lobe.”

    I love this line. I love this review, because I love seeing this horrible shit-on-paper series get torn apart for all its bad writing and blatant prejudices.

  7. Superfan

    May 22, 2015 5:17 am, Reply

    I can pick this whole series’ protagonist-centered-morality problems apart just by using that Superman comparison, to be honest, with how telling it is.

    Clark, with all of his genuine flaws (his idealism, refusal to see people as bad, bad habit of running himself right into the ground by pushing himself and not admitting it) is the pinnacle of a Good Person that power cannot corrupt. Erik, of course, is a Super Special Snowflake as well–blessed with good looks and powers. Superman is an easy-enough draw to make then–he’s Zoey’s own personal Clark Kent. A genuinely good person who’s pretty and sweet and a humble farmboy to boot. A likable love interest.

    You could even draw a parallel to Wonder Woman with Zoey–Diana being chosen by the Amazon Goddesses, and gifted with the powers of a warrior. The love interests are equal in power and compassion, classic good people chosen for adventure in a new world, chosen to bring down the pretentious and corrupted world of vampires Nyx herself has seen destroy itself from the inside-out.

    (Telling, though, that Ms. I’m-A-Nerd-Tee-Hee had no references to Diana despite mentioning that her world is Amazon-based while mentioning both Bruce and Clark. What, Diana dress too slutty for you, Zoey? Tell that to her face, I dare you.)

    Instead, we get nothing more than this literary parallel used as a descriptor. He’s pretty. Pretty as Superman! Pretty as the Manliest Man to Ever Man! Pretty with his stunning blue eyes** and black curls! So, so pretty! And that’s it. That’s all Superman is good for. His prettiness, and the fact that he’s Not Human. In fact, he’s BETTER than human, because he’s stronger, faster, and smarter than you!

    Yeah. Tell that to any person who knows his canon. You can’t be farther from the truth. And that’s just it–the Cast’s can’t understand why someone Better Than Human would lower themselves to want to BE human. Which is the farthest from Superman as you can get.

    Erik and Zoey aren’t Superman and Wonder Woman. They’re Lex Luthor and DARKSEID.

    That is all.

    **Interesting to note, Clark DOES actually have an unearthly blue gaze. A broken clock still tells the time twice in one day, I guess.

  8. BOOKS!!

    September 24, 2016 2:43 am, Reply

    The books are really bad. Like, a few years ago I absolutely loved them and now, yeah you are so right.
    The only good thing is that the characters finally begin to grow up in the last few books.
    Zoey ACTS like a stereotypical teen which I really don’t like because most teens aren’t as stupid (okay, I admit I am annying and self-absorbed but, hey, at least I acually understand that people are not as flat as Zoey describes them and the seriousness of all the crap she and her minions sprout) nor do they do drugs or party or smoke. I acually find that rude and offensive, I mean I never drank nor smoked in all my life not have my friends and half the teens at my school.
    So… anyways, I GET you. I tried to read the first book a few weeks ago, cause I was bored and found out that I rather watch/read TWILGHT (Bella is like the Queen of Mary Sues and oh my god that serise! Death seems more pleasant! ?) that read this crap.
    Anyways, sorry for ranting but I just HAD to.

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