House of Night Reread | Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

11:31 PM

I've taken down all my reviews of the series--except for one, I think--because (a) they are garbage (and SO old) and (b) I wanted a clean slate when it came to my thoughts of the series. After I reread the Vampire Academy novels back in April-June, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic for this particular era of YA. And then, on a whim, decided to give House of Night a reread as well. Whitney and I will be rereading book two in the series (Betrayed) starting this weekend, if you're interested in joining in!



The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  

In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It's tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

According to the print outs of my old Myspace (!!) reviews, I gave this book FIVE stars. I also really made it a point to say that I was Team Erik and Heath. I guess I have a thing for trios? I also compared Heath to my TRUE YA king: Nate Archibald (Gossip Girl) for some reason? Probably because of his taste for drinking and getting stoned? 

It was 2007, give me a break! 

My review and rating was very short and basically I said I love Aphrodite and wished she was the main character, but also loved Zoey and Stevie Rae and everyone. Because I'm ALWAYS trash for characters I like. That's why. 

For background: I was 16 when I first read House of Night. At the time, I was still riding the Gossip Girl high and anticipating more of its television adaptation (which, duh, REALLY let me down in the long haul) and was just getting into my blink-and-you'll-miss-it Twilight phase. 

House of Night, naturally, combined the best of both worlds and was SUPER eye-catching. Here's the story of me having bought Marked: Walmart had it in stock and I'd never seen it before, so in the cart it went. Simple. I never really go to Walmart but my friend and I were on our way to babysitting her cousins or neighbors (I know, my brain is TIRED and this was over a decade ago, okay?) after school, and I guess I just wanted something to read?

Actually. Let me correct that statement. I wanted something to read so I wouldn't have to help her. 

Oops! It's best I just admit that, right? 

So, anyways, Marked was the book of choice and I quite literally spent the rest of the night reading it. When I got home later that night, I might have skipped out on my homework to continue reading it--which is definitely on brand for teenage me. 10/10, go team, go!  

I definitely LOVED it, then. Plus, I knew that Zoey was my kind of girl when her Gossip Girl books were brought to her dorm because those were 100% her brand and they were my brand as well so this OBVIOUSLY made us kindred spirits or something. And, oh, for the record, I was* obnoxious and corrected the series title from Gossip Girls to Gossip Girl in Marked. I literally scribbled out the S anytime it was mentioned.

*I am still highly obnoxious. 

Basically, once I got hooked in the House of Night world I was in it for the long haul. I loved the magic and the general trashiness and the mythology and EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. Truly. 

I don't remember which book it was, but on release day we'd had a huge snowstorm and school was cancelled. I was SO pressed because I was supposed to go to Target after class and pick up the new book. And, later that night, my mom took pity on me (I was probably sulking because of boredom and the roads were cleared at this point, anyways) and drove me to get it. 

We almost swerved off the road entirely because it gets very icy out here in the winter months, and a lot of the times it doesn't look like it is, and our car literally spun itself around in a circle. Which was terrifying. But, being the extra extra I am, I was fine with it because I got my freaking book? *Insert eye-roll here* 

Ironically enough, though, I think that was around the time I checked out on the series for a while and didn't really look back into it for a while. Life happened, you know? Still, it is definitely one of those series that I enjoyed as a teenager and look back on fondly. 



★★☆☆☆ (2.5)
 
All right, all right. Look, it was bound to happen. It happened with Gossip Girl. It happened with Twilight. Things we loved as teenagers may not be things we love as adults.

When I reread Marked five or so years back, I dropped the five star rating to a four star. Nowadays, it is definitely a two and a half or three star read at its highest. I will say that I did cringe during a lot but still was entertained enough to continue reading--Marked was, again, a read in one sitting book.

For nostalgic reasons, it's probably more or less a three star rating. That's what I'll probably go with by the end of this post. I definitely wouldn't say that I loved Marked but I had a fun time rereading it and getting reintroduced to the central mythology of the House of Night series. Overall, it is still an indulgent way to pass the time and gives us room to wiggle into the future of the series. 

Unsurprisingly, I still liked the characters. Flaws and all. It's fun seeing the way that the Nerd Herd first came together. Looking at where the characters were in this introduction, and then remembering where they all were by series end, is interesting.

Let's get to the basics... I am SHOCKED by how much I remembered and forgot. I think it was fairly split down the middle in terms of what I remembered vs. what I didn't. For example, I didn't realize how often girls were shamed by other girls in Marked. I also didn't remember the questionable little statements, descriptions (Shaunee's introduction, for example, and the way that Damien's sexuality was tapped into) and other little things.

And then, one thing I remembered strongly was the sarcasm being on point. That hasn't changed. It's true that some of the novel hasn't aged well at all, even though it's been just over ten years--a lot has changed. Also, some things said in Marked just cause me to chuckle. Like, in Zoey's narration, we find out that her sister likes to refer to buses as "the big yellow limos" which is actually kind of fair and accurate, okay? 

Petition to change bus to big yellow limos.

Things that I remember that are seemingly mundane and unimportant:  
  • the Gossip Girl spelling error and Zoey stanning the books (duh)
  • "Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker" is the opening line and I literally had it memorized, I don't know why ???? It was just one of those opening lines that is clearly sticking with me for the rest of my life.
  • the infamous Aphrodite and Erik "introduction" (ahem, Erik rejects a blowjob from Aphrodite and Zoey accidentally stumbles upon them and OBVIOUSLY this was memorable)
  • Zoey's parents (mother and step-father) being insufferable jerks CONSTANTLY
  • Faith Hill being name dropped as a vampyre (my mom is a Faith Hill STAN so I tend to really remember it if she, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton or Shania Twain are mentioned in anything)
  • Stevie Rae's accent
  • the Nerd Herd's humble beginnings
  • Erin and Shaunee finishing each other's sentences and constantly calling each other 'Twin'
  • Zoey being 100% over getting marked from the get-go. She was like... can I just cancel the whole fucking subscription? WHY IS LIFE DOING ME SO DIRTY? Baby-girl passed out THREE TIMES IN ONE DAY. Like, dang. What a rough start to your new life, girl. We love a reluctant chosen one.
  • Kayla just being there and having NO FREAKING POINT beyond being Zoey's best friend--she served NO PURPOSE to the plot at all except to be used as an example of how ~different Zoey is and will be~ and how ~!bitchy~ Kayla is for having the hots for Heath and for being ignorant. Other pointless things: nope, just kidding, that's still Kayla. 

Plot points I mostly forgot: 
  • the cats hanging around the school and every vampyre having one as their companion AND I HAVE TO ASK WHERE DO I SIGN UP???????
  • the magical system that includes affinities for specific elements. I vaguely remembered it but not enough so that it left an impact on my memory.
  • Aphrodite's cartoonish and villainess attitude (so cringe)
  • Aphrodite has a girl squad with some interesting name meanings: Terrible, Wasp and Warlike (I LOVE THIS FOR THEM and I'd like to apply as member of the Dark Daughters 10/10)
  • the bloodlust coming early for Zoey and how it came to be
  • also, how a lot of Zoey's powers and special abilities and progressed development re: the change
  • Erik and Zoey have some insta-love thing going on and it takes me out of the relationship. I used to ship the heckity heck out of them (and obviously Heath/Zoey) BUT this time around it was more detached and out of nostalgia.
  • Zoey was picked to lead the exclusive on campus ("sorority" type of thing) group the Dark Daughters after being a student there for like five seconds NO JOKE she's at the school for five seconds and suddenly has four new BFFs and is already leading a group
  • Zoey being judgmental towards girls and her peers, aka a lot of unnecessary slut shaming and other unfortunate ignorance which IN THEORY fits with the era it's from and that generation of kids (I mean, I know) 
  • how quickly the Nerd Herd kind of come together. I mean, I'm okay with how fast some friendships form but there's literally no development and I'm not sure why I thought they were squad goals back in the day (I mean, they DO eventually get to that phase but) 
What I liked:
  • Zoey's relationship with her grandmother. I always liked it. I will always like it. It is the hill I am going to die on.
  • How cartoonish and comical Zoey's step-father is. He is EXACTLY the kind of trash that likes to pretend he isn't trash and is so high and mighty. I hated him and I liked that I still continued to hate him I guess? It felt consistent plus was the start of some high quality snark from our girl Zoey and I am always here for snark.
  • Aphrodite is consistently fake and awful in Marked. WHICH, okay, in theory, is dumb. But, I still think that her character development throughout the rest of the series is my favourite thing and watching her and Zoey duke it out for a while is actually fun. Because I know they will become friends and work well together in the future, plus I remember who Aphrodite is really and not just who she is pretending to. 
  • The cats!!!!!!! I still love the cats, okay? I will always love animals in stories. Leave me alone. 
  • All of the rituals and magic and UGH, the mythology of this series was always so interesting. 
  • Zoey's vulnerability and strength. 
  • Although I think it's crass and dumb and overdone at how they portray it, I like that Zoey is a bit judgmental because most teenagers are. It's a trait we all grow out of. Mostly. I still think it could have been portrayed a little differently, but at least these kids were acting like kids. 
  • Did I mention Wasp, Warlike and Terrible? AKA, Aphrodite's girl squad? We love an unholy girl gang. 
  • The fact that Zoey is seeing the "ghosts" of some classmates who died. It is great foreshadowing for the rest of the series and what it actually means. 
  • Stevie Rae and Zoey sticking up for each other. The rest of the Nerd Herd, too, but mostly I want to single them out because it's a dream roommate scenario, you know? 
  • I liked the uncertainty that came with Zoey's bloodlust and the questions it raised in her. It felt like a good starting point for moral dilemmas. Especially when Zoey has her moment with Heath and wanting his blood. I even was intrigued by the point where Zoey realized she drank one of her classmates blood at her first Dark Daughters meeting/ritual. 
  • The setting. I AM ALWAYS TRASH FOR A GOOD BOARDING SCHOOL SETTING.
  • Speaking of trash, there's a trashy quality to Marked that was really amusing.  
  • Neferet. Hear me out: I know she's no good. That's why I like her. I kind of dig when the mentor turns to the villain. She isn't yet. But, she will be.

What I didn't: 
  • every two seconds, or rather every page, I feel like there was A LOT of slut-shaming that I can not get behind. Teen girls can be vicious, but it doesn't have to be a CONSTANT inclusion in the narration. It didn't sound youthful, it sounds try-hard. Also, there was this weird quality to the dialogue that one minute it felt try-hard, the next it sounded petty, and then Zoey would say poopie and it was just kind of ????????? I wasn't keen, in other words. AHEM, this was years ago, and I know this, but COME ON. You're not a slut for making out with some guy. That girl you hate isn't a slut for blowing someone.  
  • Not to harp on this but the dialogue and interactions are so underdeveloped and I cannot unsee it as an adult. 
  • All the slang, slurs and pop culture references. I find that the older I get, the less keen I am on pop culture references. It lost its appeal. 
  • While I know that the world-building is expanded upon as the series goes (and the lore is REALLY interesting) I felt a little lost during Marked. I can't help but wonder how I read it that first time and was like, yes, this is IT. There is just a lot of telling without showing and it is a bit blah. 
  • It felt somehow slow and too quick. This is to be expected. BUT, it definitely bothered me how some things unraveled. And how a lot lacked development. And the development we did have was of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it variety.  
  • I mean, I've already mentioned it and it ties into a few other things but the fact that Zoey is already the new leader of the Dark Daughters, despite only being there for a few days, and not knowing much about her new life. Narratively (is that even a word?) speaking it makes sense because she is the main character; the chosen one, BUT. No. It just doesn't make sense? H-O-W. 
  • Aphrodite being demonized and shamed for her sexuality. Look. She's a bitch. We get that. She goes through a lot of development by the end. I JUST DON'T GET WHY WE ARE LEAD TO THINK SHE IS TRASH BECAUSE SHE WAS BEING SEXUAL? I just ???? HAVE????? SO MANY ??????? QUESTIONS? 


I know that was a lot to take in. But, there was a lot to say. I am not necessarily ragging on the series or the author, because I do actually *gasp* like these books. I just think it's interesting to note how it has aged and how my thoughts have changed towards it. The thing is, I do have to ask: if I hadn't read these books as a teenager, would I have even finished reading this introduction? 

Next up, Betrayed!

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