House of Night Reread | Betrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast + Planned Television Adaptation

10:00 AM

Just in time for the announcement that the team behind Shadowhunters is adapting the House of Night series for television! Between this announcement and the reveal of the Shadow and Bone cast, this week has been BUSY for page to screen news. I'm hopeful about the television series. It has the potential to work really well, if done correctly--it, too, has the chance to fix some of the books flaws and I'm kind of excited! I just hope that it doesn't end up on Freeform, given their nasty track record of being a disaster network.

(I am already worried about what they might do to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I can only handle stressing out about one adaptation, universe! And that's an all-time, never ending, favourite. So.)

But back to the real topic at hand! It's time to discuss my reread of the second House of Night novel, Betrayed. Which, in my opinion, was infinitely better (and somehow more addictive?) than Marked. This time around I was unable to look away (no joke, I ended up "accidentally" reading it all before going to bed one night) and, before you ask, yes, thankfully the use of slut shaming was lessened in Betrayed. Not by much, but still a lot better!

Fledging vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night finishing school. 

She finally feels like she belongs, even gets chosen as the Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, she actually has a boyfriend... or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

So, according to my old review (which I deleted off the blog but kept a copy of to mock amongst my own thoughts), Betrayed was my least favourite of the series back in the day. I used the word suck (and its many variations) a lot in the original review. Which is remarkable because of how short it was. Listen, I was a teenager with a limited vocab. It happens. It, like, so totally sucks.

To honor my younger self, I am going to see how many times I can say suck without wanting to fling myself out of my window. I'd start a drinking game in its honor, too, if it wasn't noon. Bummer. That sucks, if I do say so myself.

Real talk: Betrayed broke my heart when I first read it.

This is entirely because of the "death" of Stevie Rae. I remember it absolutely destroyed me to see her in pain and then to see Zoey and the rest of the Nerd Herd mourn her. It is always sad to see a character so young die, because their entire life was so short and they had the future ahead of them.

You know how it is. It just sucks. It sucked, too, because I was her age at the time the book was published. Even moreso, it SUCKED, because she'd JUST discovered her affinity to earth. I don't know, it was just so bittersweet because Stevie Rae is an actual ray of sunshine and deserves the world.

Honestly, my memory isn't all that clear when it comes to Betrayed. It's been a long, long, long time. I remember a few plot points--Zoey's relationship (ugh) with Loren Blake starts to really expand in this one (Can we please stop pairing underage girls with their teachers? It's not sexy, it's gross.) and we get a lot of back and forth when it comes to her love life: will she pick Erik, Heath and Loren?! 

Then, we get to see Aphrodite's character start to really shine and escape the archetype of your typical high school ~mean girl~ and Neferet becomes more and more sketchy. I'm an Aphrodite STAN, so, like, hello. Also, I just remember really liking that we got to see a new side of her from this book on. As for the rest of Betrayed, I remember the feeling of betrayal from all its plot twists (the villain! the death! the expansion of the mythology re: the change and fledglings) and feeling like I *had* to read the third book immediately after finishing it.

My original rating for Betrayed was a 4.5 star one! I remember being super petty about it, too, because I was like. Oh. My bad. I'd have totally rated this a .5 star HIGHER if you hadn't put me through the emotional trauma that was Stevie Rae's death.

★★★☆☆ (3.5)

In other words, Betrayed has a higher rating than Marked but a whole star lower than my first read of the series. I think my favourite part of Betrayed was how grief was touched upon in a way that felt real and organic and emotional. It certainly had an effect from me--one of the rarest things of all is that I still cried during this one, despite knowing what was coming and what was yet to arrive in future books. Further, I loved the way that the Nerd Herd's friendship progressed in this one.

One of my issues with Marked was that the connection, their bond, seemed to come out of nowhere and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it fashion. Which was less noticeable as a teenager, but as an adult it definitely tuck out in a way that made it impossible to not note the underdeveloped, speed friendship. While it wasn't necessarily developed better in Betrayed in terms of what connects them, the bond of the Nerd Herd was definitely more poignant in this one. I had an easier time believing that they were all BFFs in this book, than I did in Marked.

There's a scene, for example, in the very last chapter where the group is all together. Minus Stevie Rae. You can feel that lingering moment of loss amongst them. They are mourning the friendship they had, that group dynamic that is seemingly gone (although, Zoey knows that Stevie Rae is out there--even if she's not the girl who befriended her and is presently missing her humanity) and Zoey recalls, to herself, the moment that her best-friend asks her to not forget her.

As she states out loud that she is remembering her, like she promised, and Damien, Shaunee, Erin and Erik all echo the same sentiment, something about it feels intensely emotional. It only adds to the impact when, in Zoey's narration, she makes a promise to herself and to her fallen best friend that she will go back for her. I don't know how to explain it other than to mention that the determination to save her best friend really, really gets to me in the best way possible.

(Side note, I should have included this in the "then" part of my reread but I remember always hopping on a House of Night message board between books. I just felt like I needed to mention that for some reason?) 

Much like I remembered, I think my favourite plotline in Betrayed was the inclusion and growth of Aphrodite. She is, as always, a standout. I love bitter, jaded, and slightly mean characters who are secretly good people who just do and say very bad things. Give me the morally gray characters who slowly begin to show that they do, in fact, have a more nurturing side. I really enjoyed seeing the ways that Aphrodite used her visions to help Zoey out.

That tentative friendship, too, is a standout. Knowing that they are both, now, on Neferet's bad side, is just fun. Their rivalry was always a bit choppy in terms of development but the friendship that follows them is fantastic.

I also really enjoyed the extension of the series' overlapping mythology. This is what I remembered in terms of worldbuilding. I'm glad it lived up to my memory of the series in this book. Betrayed really builds on what we learned in Marked and I know that the series only grows from here on out. From the Nerd Herd discovering their affinities, to the exploration of the Dark Daughters, to the inclusion of Stevie Rae's new status/the type of fledglings the "dead" kids are, Aphrodite's visions and powers, Zoey's powers continuing to grow, the dangerous air that comes with the deaths of humans, etc etc, this book really pulled at my attention in the best ways.

Of course, it was still flawed. While it fixes some of the issues in Marked, Betrayed still is by no means a perfect read. I don't need to say it, but I still really don't dig the constant slut shaming that goes on in the series. It is unnecessary and wholly outdated and overused. Tacky, even. It causes me to roll my eyes fairly frequently.

The writing was MUCH better in Betrayed, but so much of the slang, slurs, shaming and all that jazz really, really takes me out of the story and gives me secondhand embarrassment. So much (again with this word) unnecessary commentary that borders on obnoxious and offensive. I can acknowledge, as always, that teenagers (especially in 2007) do say things that are questionable but after a certain point it was so awkward hearing this attempt at being "youthful" in dialogue.

It standouts in the worst way. Although it isn't there every page like it was in Marked, it's still a lot and too much and really doesn't do the Casts any favors. It is what it is but it still ruins what could be.

In short, I really enjoyed rereading Betrayed. Far more than Marked. The series is a little outdated and cringy and a whole lot trashy, but it was still a fun experience. You can see the growth in the writing and mythology, and as a whole Betrayed makes me all the more hyped to continue on with Chosen and the series as a whole. A lot of my fondness for it has been restored, but I still have a lot of conflicting feelings about the series re: my nostalgia vs. now.

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