Marked and The House of Night Series (3.5)
Enter the dark, magical world of the House of Night. That's the first thing written in the back of the book of Marked, the first book in the House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. And it surely is true.
From the first page I read of this book, I was totally hooked. It has this catchy rhythm that makes you want to keep reading until you finish reading every single drop of ink the book contains. I finished the book in a couple of days (blame my two schools and teachers that give you homework like there's no tomorrow) and I immediately felt I needed to buy the next book. And the entire series. Gladly, my BFF gave them to me, so I didn't need to be stressing over how much I had to save to buy them. (Yes, she gave me the first 8 books. And yes, she is the best.)
Marked is the story about Zoey Montgomery (later known as Zoe Redbird), a sixteen-year-old normal, simple girl. She is kinda-dating the quarterback, Heath, who has been her best friend since ever. She has a "BFF" (that I wouldn't have even if they paid me) since she was in third grade. She has problems with her mother and her stepfather because they can't get along with each other. She is just a completely normal girl going through her life like each of us. Until she is Marked.
Let's make a stop here so I can explain a little bit of the world of The House of Night Series. First, in this world, vampyres aren't the scary things the world has been teaching us for all this time. No, they are actually respected by lots and feared by some -thought the big majority of these "some" seem to live in Tulsa, the home of Zoey and one of the biggest House of Night schools of USA. Vampyres have been living with humans since ever: Shakespeare was a vampyre, as well as Cleopatra and other important people in world history. Next, vampyres aren't scared of the light nor do they die if they touch it. That is, if you survive the Change. The Change is a process every marked fledging has to go through, and your body can either accept the Change and transform into a full Vampyre -not getting burned by the sun, free-will in the day, special abilities- or reject the Change and die, and this time, forever. Also, vampyres have a Goddess: Nyx, the queen of the night; and Erebus, who is the guardian of Nyx and serves as the example for the guys.
With that covered, let's continue with Marked. Zoey Redbird is Marked by a Tracker, a vampyre that follows the Goddess wishes and marks a person so they become a vampyre fledging. If you are marked, you will instantly get a dark blue outline of a crescendo moon tattooed in the middle of your forehead. Once you go through the Change, the outline is filled completely and you also get a tattoo design that has to do with your ability framing your face. But, since Zoey is just a fledging, she has a dark blue outline in her forehead, something that makes her so-named best friend Kayla practically run, scared that Zoey has suddenly turned into a monster (talk about staying in the good and bad moments...). Anyways, Zoey tries to just go home and disappear from the school grounds when (you won't guess this!!) the infamous Heath appears with a couple of friends drinking. (At school. While he drives. Yep, that's why so many teens crush their cars.) Zoey tries to ignore him so he doesn't see the brand-new mark on her face, but there he keeps insisting until he and the others see her mark, entering a shock state which Zoey used to escape and get home.
Not that she was going to get anything better there. When she gets home and her mother sees her mark, she starts getting hysterical about what "John will think of her". Mhm, no "Sweetheart, everything is going to be alright, I will always love you no matter what" or "I will find a way, there's have to be something I can do so you don't have to suffer". No, she thinks about what John will do. Of course, she tells John immediately and he decides to make a prayer-circle for Zoey, thing she can't take and decides to escapes to her Grandma Redbird's arms. So, Zoey fleas to her grandmother's lavender farm, where she finds her grandma isn't home and decides to take a walk around to see if she finds her in her usual spot. While she walks around, she falls and gets an ugly hit on her head, which sends her into unconsciousness. While she is unconscious, she sees Nyx, who gives Zoey some special powers, powers she doesn't see right afterward and she can't understand. Nyx kisses her forehead, sending her again into unconsciousness.
When Zoey wakes-up, she finds herself in the House of Night infirmary, where she sees her grandmother and another important character: Neferet, who is the Priestess and will become Zoey's advisor and mentor. Neferet gives Zoey a mini tour around the school ground, after which Zoey encounters an embarrassing situation: she sees a blonde girl forcing a boy into receiving a blow job. Yep, in the school's hallway. Zoey will try to back-off unnoticed, but the guy will see her and they will lock eyes. Long story short, Neferet will come back and lead her toward her new room in the student resident.
After the disturbing situation is over, Zoey will meet a couple of people and start her adventure in the House of Night.
With Marked, I have lots of mixed feelings. I have this weird love-hate relationship with this book (and the series as a whole too). I admit I had an awesome time reading the books and it did let me wanting more, but... They are just certain things I can't look over or ignore. Let's see... I will make you a list of the Pros and Cons of that book alone and the whole series:
Pro: Zoey is an extremely relatable character.
This practically explains itself alone. Zoey has a pretty much average life: she goes to school, she doesn't understand geometry and she struggles with having a relatively normal popularity -not too known nor too "wallflower". She is not perfect, gets hurt by the comments and actions of other people and dreams of being with the hottest guy in school.
Ok, I understand the author needs something we students may see like something difficult so we can relate to how the MC is feeling, but... Is it really necessary having to compare every single thing with geometry? It's not like it's THAT hard. After the 10th time they wrote "I wished I could go back to the life where I only cared about my geometry test tomorrow", I was getting sick of the reference. And it continues through all the book and all the series. Oh, and sometimes, it's the opposite. Everything can look bad, unless you look at a geometry test and find that your life isn't really that messed up.
Pro: Normal, Every-day language.
P.C. Cast hits the nail writing like a teenager would. I don't think this really need that much of an explanation. She writes in an easy, teen-like language, which helps when you like trying to get into character while reading certain POV.
Con: Do teens really curse that much?
I'm sorry, but I don't like curse language. The worst word I say is probably "hell", but this book has a wide range of words, though not like others. It does include frequently certain words that I never used, so I really ask myself: Is it completely necessary to write those words? And, if it is, I don't see the connection of needing and abusing. Four - Six curse words in a book I can accept. After all, when people get really angry, they usually curse. But, where's the need of calling someone like that almost every time they talk about him/her?
Pro: You can see the reasons why Zoey does the things she does.
Zoey is no moron. Zoey doesn't make a lot of decisions in the heat of the moment. She actually likes to think things for a long time before making anything, but it doesn't come as if she was extremely smart or unnaturally slow. It comes just right: it feels like when we need to make an important decision and think about it all the time. It's another thing that makes Zoey like-able: she is real.
This con may be a little bit influenced by my beliefs, but I think other people will be with me in this one too. Zoey, like I said before, is really thoughtful about things. So, there comes a part in book 3 or book 2 or even book 4(sorry, I will check later in which one) that totally ruined my image of her. It was just wrong, and it didn't quite fitted with the image the author had been delivering to us of Zoey. I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to spoiler anyone who hasn't read the books, but once you read it, you will notice what I'm talking about.
You can see that I wrote 3 Pros and 3 Cons. I just wrote those because I think some of the other reasons are a bit biased and I don't want anyone to make a wrong assumption with the books. Just so you know, I love The House of Night Series, I have 8 of the books and it is one of my favorite series, as well as the first but not least or last book I read from the Casts. The story has it´s downs and all, but I think I enjoyed it for a while.
If you can ignore or overlook the cons listed up, I think you can stand reading it, though I don´t promise you will love it.