Blogtober (#13) | House of Night Reread: Chosen + Kristin Cast Used One of My Bookstagram Photos On Her Page and I Nearly Fainted

7:30 AM

Hoo, boy! I'm flying by in this series. It may not seem like it based on how long it's taken me to make my reread posts. By the time this goes live, I'll likely be on book six. It's taken me a bit of time to get these posts presentable which is why this is only the third one yet. I KNOW, I KNOW. It's just been a weird month and other things. (Not bad weird. Just weird. And I've got some serious writer's block just in time or Blogtober. Go, team, go!)

And this is mostly because my thought process is intensely incoherent and I like to make sure my posts are only moderately so. (Insert wildly laughing emoji here.) Which means I'M VERY SLOW AND IT STINKS. It's fine!!!! We're fine!!! I swear, I'm going to pull myself together soon. Hopefully. Possibly. Probably.

Also, as you can see in the title, Kristin Cast used one of my Instagram pictures on her Instagram and I had a mini meltdown over it because, okay, HOW? (Seventeen year old me is 100% losing her mind over this.) Which was the cherry on top of a (again, NOT BAD) weird week, during this very weird month.

Dark forces are at work at the House of Night and Zoey Redbird’s adventures at the school take a mysterious turn. Her best friend, Stevie Rae, is undead and struggling to maintain a grip on her humanity. Zoey finds herself in the very unexpected and rare situation of having three boyfriends. Mix a little bloodlust into the equation and the situation has the potential to spell social disaster. Just when it seems things couldn’t get any tougher, vampyres start turning up dead. Really dead. It looks like the People of Faith are tired of living side-by-side with vampyres. But, as Zoey and her friends so often find out, how things appear rarely affects the truth…

Surprise! I gave this one five stars back in the day. (I know, it's not surprising at all. Please see: I used to live for this series. I was trash for it. It was my brand.) And according to my old review (RIP, old reviews, you were acceptable) this one was everything to me and I definitely worshiped the heck out of it. The fact that I didn't have gel pen doodles in the book itself is surprising to me because I really went wild on taking notes for it.  

It's funny. I could barely keep myself focused on taking notes in my classes at the time, but boy did I have a lot to say about House of Night. I had a literal set of notes for this one. No, really! I had extensive notes. How I managed this is beyond me. Honestly, based on these notes, I probably didn't even have to reread it.

The good news is, I did anyways, because I didn't reread my old review until after I reread Chosen. Also, I wanted to continue on my reread in peace. Nobody ever wants their teenage self whispering in their ear.

Funny note: he title for my review was actually "Aphrodite LaFont is the Queen and Should be the Main Character" which is a good assessment on my part. 10/10. Aphrodite is definitely my favourite in the series, forever, with Zoey's Grandma at number two, and Stevie Rae at three. 

Okay, let's get back on track or my thoughts back in the day. The first thing you should know is that this was probably my favourite book in the series (or at least top two) and I spent a good while just waxing poetic about how Stevie Rae deserved to get her humanity back faster (!!!!!! true), and how Neferet was deliciously evil (I may not have wrote: step on me, Neferet, but I probably was thinking it), and that Loren Blake was a creep. 

All right, fine, I didn't actually think too much of Loren Blake's creepiness at the time. Not until the big bad revelation about his relationship with Neferet and why he was really pursuing Zoey. I was young. It was more... something in passing that made me kind of uneasy, but not too deeply. I was definitely more keen on Erik or Heath at the time. 

I also made A LOT of notes re: Zoey not being a great character in this particular installment (less about the lies and cheating and hypocrisy whatnot, more about how she acted re: her birthday presents that Erik and the Nerd Herd bought her) and may or may not have been loathing her in Chosen as a whole. 

I was pretty hard on her, to be honest, but I still feel like I wasn't entirely off base. I understood less back then, as a teenager, that teenagers act dumbly even if they are intelligent, chosen ones.

Regardless, I think these were fairly common thoughts for me to have during the original series' run. 

Listen, I was full of teen angst and hormones and apparently Chosen (and House of Night in general) really hit THE sweet spot for me, okay? I loved it. It was so soap opera dishy. It was all but made for a CW television series with all the lies, sex, teen angst and other going-ons.

Based on my paperback copy and its cracked spine, I spent many a time rereading it. 

★★★☆☆ (3.5)

If we're getting technical, it may be more like a 3.8 rating. Not quite a 4 star. Definitely higher than the other books: I liked it a lot more than both Marked and Betrayed. I definitely enjoyed it. Chosen felt like it was a lot more hectic, eventful and even more descriptive than the other installments. This was definitely a read in one sitting book and I was absolutely engrossed with it this time around. I honestly felt like I was being compelled to read more, as I couldn't look away.

You can tell this was when the plotline was really picking up and things TRULY started happening. 

Plus, the writing was getting stronger at this point in the series from all angles. The characters were starting to come into their own. World-building was expanding. Everything was higher stakes and a lot of tension. Slang was used a little (not a lot) less. In short? It was easier for me to tune out the more frustrating/problematic moments in the narration/dialogue.

I think my only complaints for Chosen were the same ones I had for the previous two books in the series: a lot of ignorance and slut-shaming; a lot of questionable descriptions of people of colour, not great descriptions of gay characters, too. The series itself is diverse, but the way that the diversity is approached in the narration is not a good look. A lot of these things are moreso nods to their time and that era in YA, so I'm a little more forgiving towards that. 

Still, it brings down the experience exponentially for obvious reasons. Oh! And the fact that Zoey says poopie. All. The. Damn. Time.

That being said, I really enjoyed Chosen a lot more than I expected. This time around, I noticed how much more uncomfortable the Zoey/Loren relationship made me. It kind of gets glossed over, too, as the series goes. I mean, hello? He groomed Zoey; had sex/imprinted with her because Neferet asked him to isolate her from her friends. The poor girl would go on to feel like pure hell from this and it is just... sad.

Back then, it was more unsettling and scandalous to me; nowadays it's just plain gross. Neferet is one evil lady and we all know this, but it's still very uncomfortable to read about. Especially as an adult. It definitely leads Zoey down a different path than expected; causing tension with her friends, breaking both Erik and Heath's hearts in the process (of course, she breaks her own heart, too, which is just as bad) and a lot of unnecessary plot-twists considering Loren's demise by the end of Chosen

For the record, I'm not especially fond of any of Zoey's love interests as an adult. Or Zoey. At least, in this installment. It makes me wonder how I'll be feeling about Stark in the next books. Heath doesn't get that no means no/pushes at Zoey to be in a relationship with him. Erik slut-shames the hell out of, um, every girl pretty much. Loren is a teacher and lurks around underage girls. I mean, we've got a group of winners here, right?   

Enough negatives. I really, really, really liked reading this one. It felt so much more in depth than the first two books. This is what the series was meant to be. A lot of Chosen was a balancing act, which I liked. I liked, too, that this showcased the strength of friendships (Aphrodite and Zoey, Zoey and Stevie Rae, etc) but that it also shows the weaknesses and cracks in the surface of friendships.

It tackles secrets in a fairly realistic way--from the point of them eating at Zoey, as she is being used, or the effects they have on loved ones.

Dealing with Zoey's relationship drama was kind of the central arch throughout House of Night, but especially in Chosen--there's a lot of tension between her and her family, and then the Nerd Herd at various points, her struggling with Stevie Rae's lack of humanity/trying to get it back, the ongoing feud she has with Neferet, etc. 

But then it had its brighter points. 

Namely, Zoey's growing friendship with Aphrodite. I love them. I feel like, to a degree, this budding friendship is developed in a much more believable way than any other connection in the series. They went from hatred and jealousy, to hesitance and respect, to trust and genuine friendship. Nothing was instant about it and it just felt very much so true to life, even in all its paranormal fantasy elements.

Obviously: I loved seeing Aphrodite stand up for Zoey towards the end of the novel, against Erik's not entirely unwarranted hostility. "You do not want to piss me off anymore,"she said. "You claim to care so much for Zoey, but you've turned on her like a mangy-ass dog because she hurt your little ego."

(Seriously, though, Aphrodite is the best and I would die for her.)

Zoey and Aphrodite are both very different types of people but their strengths and their hearts seem similar in a lot of ways. I think Chosen, at its core, was at its best when it approached the respect that had formed between these two, as well as Zoey and Stevie Rae's friendship. 

Of course, my favourite parts of the story are in the final quarter. 

Seeing Zoey lose nearly all of her friends is really not fun in context/at the time, but I think it is really were the series starts to pick up and in the end it makes the Nerd Herd's bond stronger. Erik going through the change and becoming a vampyre is another highlight. (Seeing Zoey think he was dying, like Stevie Rae, was painful.) Aphrodite sacrificing herself, and in the end, her fledgling status, for Stevie Rae. Stevie Rae's humanity returning. 

That being said, this was the strongest installment yet and I'm definitely looking forward to the continued story-telling, world-building and plot twists. 

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