Friday, June 5, 2009

Marked (A House of Night Novel)

Marked (A House of Night Novel) by PC Cast and Kristin Cast

This is the first in a (currently) 5-book series written by a mother/daughter duo. PC Cast (the mother) previously wrote paranormal romance books, such as the “Goddess” series, and I believe she is popular with those who read that genre.

What surprised me were the similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series, although I certainly wouldn’t equate the two by any means. Marked takes place in the modern world, difference being that vampyres (yes, with a “y”) exist harmoniously among the human race and are known and accepted. In fact, one of the cheesier parts of the books was the frequent mention of current celebrities (from Faith Hill to Matthew McConaughey) who were indeed vamps, a salute to the common notion that vampires are much more beautiful and talented than your average human.

So in this world, teenagers are chosen to become vampyres (seemingly at random), and know then when they are suddenly and without warning “marked” by the appearance of a crescent moon outline tattooed on their foreheads. So once they are marked, they are immediately brought to the House of Night, where they enter into a vampyre high school (at this point, I must say I am quite tired of typing the "y" in the word), are given a roommate and an adult mentor, and are encouraged to develop their talents. They take courses like fencing, equestrian studies, and vampire sociology, and they also pay homage to the Goddess of Night and attend nightly rituals.

So Zoey is your average chick in Tulsa, dating the cute football player with a BFF from childhood, and she gets marked out of nowhere right before she walks in to take her geometry test. Her friend and boyfriend freak, she freaks, her ultra-conservative parents freak, so she escapes to her grandma’s house. Now Grandma is a Cherokee native, who has taught Zoey over the years about ancient rituals, spirits, and the like. She isn’t surprised that Zoey has been marked, as their family is rich with spiritual heritage (all related to the vampyre goddesses and spirits). While outside of her grandma’s house, Zoey falls, hits her head, and is knocked unconscious, during which she actually sees a vision and meets the Goddess of Night and is told she has been chosen especially by the goddess. And when she wakes, her crescent moon is filled in, which is something that only happens to adult vampyres once they have completely changed. Fancy pantsy.

So once she arrives at school, lots of stuff goes down in just a month. She meets some folks who will become her new posse of best friends, the most beautiful boy in the whole school takes a liking to her, and she realizes that ole Goddess of Night wasn’t joking because she has all sorts of powers. And since she’s “the chosen one” with all these powers, naturally she has enemies and causes a stir. She is quickly invited to join the Dark Daughters, an exclusive club, and realizes that its leader is inherently evil and must be stopped. Lots of craziness happens, groups are divided, teachers are involved, and… its’ a mess. I’m not going to tell you exactly what happens because, well, it's a lot lot more and very complicated, and... it ends on a cliffhanger!

All in all, I found Marked to be original (despite the reminiscences of Harry Potter), and I found myself drawn to the magic and the romance and, well, the drama. I liked it. As far as young readers go, I would have a hard time recommending it to younger teens, as there is quite a bit of pretty fowl language, some adult themes (nothing graphic, but direct references to sex and an oral sex scene in the second chapter), and a pretty sinister backdrop. In addition, unlike Harry Potter or Twilight, there is actual goddess worship and an obviously condescending attitude toward a Christian group that openly opposes the vampyre world. It’s not something that I (a Christian) am offended by, but I can’t help but think that this is the type of thing that all the Harry Potter Haters would have a hey-day with.

I am in the process of reading the second and have already picked up the third!

Marked (PB) - St. Martin's Griffin, May 2007

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