Second Time Around: Marked (House of Night #1) by P.C. and Kristin Cast

After a vampyre tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, sixteen year old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx, given special powers. But she's not the only fledgling at the House with powers. When she discovers the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within for the courage to embrace her destiny - with a little help from her new vampyre friends (from Goodreads). 


Back in 2008 I, like so many other teenage girls, got swept up in the YA vampire fiction mania that all started with the Twilight saga being adapted into movies. I remember getting so caught up in the Twilight books, I read all four in a single day. When that was all over, vampire fiction was my new favourite thing and I bought pretty much every book going in the genre. The first three books of the House of Night series were swept up in that book haul. 

At the time, I remember thinking Marked (book 1 in the series) was just kick-ass, and I couldn't wait for the other books in the series after the first three to be released. I have all the books sitting on my book shelf, some of them left untouched since the day I bought them simply because I stopped reading them. I think I grew out of the vampire phase, a little at least. I'm still very much partial to one, don't get me wrong, but I think I just have higher standards now. Re-reading Marked definitely strengthens that suggestion.

Because I was home for the week, and I had left all the books I was supposed to be reading back in London, I decided to pick up Marked and read it, remind myself of the world I had once been so in love with. Perhaps I shouldn't have; I could still be living in blissful ignorance forever. Because jeez, is this book disappointing the second time around. 

Zoey is our protagonist and sixteen years old. That's important to know, because at no point does she act that age. Zoey's like this whiny, insecure little child who thinks she's better than everyone else, that the world should be recognizing she's better than "the freak girls who puked and starved themselves into what they thought was Paris Hilton chic" or girls like Aphrodite who are classically beautiful, all because she's a 'nice' person. She's not nice; she is rude and awfully judgmental, about everything. When Zoey meets Stevie Rae, she thinks her clothes look trashy and would never personally wear them, but Stevie Rae makes them work. If someone ever said something like that about what I was wearing, I'd probably slap them in the face. I'd definitely stop being their friend. But since Zoey doesn't say it out loud, that obviously makes it okay? No.

The rest of the characters in the book are incredibly one-dimensional. Stevie Rae is the country girl, and the sidekick - that's her role. Shaunee and Erin are those two BFFs who are joined at the hip and share a personality, which is bland to read. You skip over their sad interactions and immature jibs. Damien is the pretentious token gay of the group. Aphrodite is the bitchy one and has her clique of bitchy underlings. And Erik is just such a creep. 

Erik is Zoey's love interest in Marked, and he just so happens to be Aphrodite's ex boyfriend. So of course that causes drama in girl-land. Aphrodite did have a lot to hate Zoey for; she was new to the school, but obviously special, and before her arrival Aphrodite was the special one, the one being groomed for greatness by the High Priestess. Aphrodite had absolutely no reason to like Zoey - I certainly don't. But the whole Erik debacle is just a layer to their feud that felt completely unnecessary. Can't two girls simply be enemies without a guy being present? Why was it made so petty? And the romance was so underdeveloped. Looking back on these books, I remember thinking Erik was so hot and he swept Zoey off her feet, but he didn't. He just stared at her a bit, and looked good, and then said some really creepy shit about how she can drink his blood if she wants, and that's about it. There is absolutely no chemistry between Zoey and Erik, and that crushed me a little. 

This book is not what I remember it being. Every page I turned, every silly thing one of the characters did or said, I kept hoping the book would finally start getting interesting. I was hoping to be sucked back into the world I had enjoyed once upon a time, but it wasn't to be. Even the parts I remember enjoying to read were just dull this time round. Nothing about this book, this world, caught my attention. The plan had been I would re-read the first eight books I'd read, and then move onto the next four (yes, somehow there are twelve of these books), but now I just won't bother. 

It actually kind of irritates me that I thought Zoey was the kind of girl I wanted to be for a while. I thought she was inspirational and strong, and I wanted to have a boyfriend like Erik. I even gave this book 5 stars on my Goodreads account - that has, of course, been changed now. It's almost laughable how wrong I was. I want to be nothing like Zoey. There are so many great YA heroines out there, so many with intricate plots, unexpected plot twists and well-developed characters. At least re-reading this will make me appreciate all those other books more.  

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