This is the vampire—excuse me, vampyre finishing school book.

Zoey Redbird has normal teenage problems – her stepfather is in a whackadoo Christian cult, her boyfriend is not too bright and drinks a lot, and she fears geometry – until she’s marked by a vampyre. Excuse me, Marked.

Wham! Next thing she knows, she’s attending vampyre boarding school. This point was a little unclear, but apparently the Mark doesn’t turn you into a vampyre, but is given to you after you’ve already spontaneously mutated in order to warn you to get yourself to vampyre academy. Once there, you become a fledgling trained in the ways of vampyres. But there’s a catch: about ten percent of all fledglings have their bodies reject the Change, and drop dead before graduation.

This is obviously not going to happen to Zoey, though, because she is extremely special. How is she special? Let me count the ways:

1. Her crescent moon Mark, which is normally just an outline on fledglings, is filled in.
2. The vampyre Goddess Nyx came to her in a vision and told her she had some sort of important mission.
3. Her personal advisor is the headmistress.
4. She craves blood, which normally doesn’t happen till much later.
5. Her wise Cherokee grandmother imparted special Cherokee wisdom to her.
6. She sees ghosts (or possibly zombies).
7. A very few full vampyres can control ONE of the five elements. Zoey, though still a fledgling, can control all five!

Though I mock, I actually quite enjoyed this. It’s kind of terrible and trashy, but the fun kind of terrible and trashy.

For all her specialness, Zoey is a likable character with a sense of humor that’s often actually funny. The academy is a fun setting, with its classes in Vampyre Sociology 101, cat companions, snobbish blood-sucking sororities, and secret rituals in the dead of night. The pace seems fast even though objectively not a whole ton of a lot happens, and though I never feared for any of the major characters, the Casts do a good job of making the possibility of sudden death hang over the characters’ heads. And despite the obligatory presence of a predictably boring male love interest, Erik Night (!), it’s overall very female-centric.

The novel is told in first person, and one of its main strengths is that, with some lapses, it really does read like a teenager wrote it: casual, teenage-cynical alternating with teenage-earnest, simultaneously frank and judgmental about sex. And one of its main weaknesses is that it REALLY reads like a teenager wrote it, complete with bad sentence structure, pointless rambling, etc. It also has a lot of teenage-plausible casual offensiveness – I winced, for instance, every time she called something “retarded.” However, that isn’t just Zoey being in character. There’s also the wise old magical Indian grandmother, not to mention the sympathetic gay guy who isn’t weird and femme like those other gay guys. Etc. That being said, that sort of thing is kept to a relatively low murmur, and there’s clearly an effort, however hamhanded, made at being inclusive.

What really made me want to read more, though, were the hints at the end that all was not as it seemed, and that some standard plot and character tropes might not go in the way I was expecting. Though I could be wrong about that. Anyway, I tore through this and will check the library for the sequel.

View on Amazon: Marked (House of Night, Book 1)

From: [identity profile]

A very few full vampyres can control ONE of the five elements. Zoey, though still a fledgling, can control all five!
So Zoey is Harry Potter AND the Avatar?

From: [identity profile]

Amazingly, she does NOT have purple eyes. Excuse me. Amethyst.

From: [identity profile]

Wow, you had pretty much the same reaction as I did. I liked it, but felt guilty for liking it. I haven't yet purchased the sequel (I think there are multiples planned for the series?), but chances are good that I will at some point.

Zoey really does cross over my invisible Mary Sue line - I should explain that I firmly believe ALL protagonists/heroes/heroines are Mary Sues, the only difference is that if the author can make me like the character and care about them and if the rest of the story is good, The Mary Sue-ness fades into the background and doesn't make my teeth itch.

My teeth were slightly itchy here, but not horribly so.

From: [identity profile]

There's four books out now and at least one more planned!
ext_22548: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

Wouldn't the dead of noon make more sense for secret vampire rituals?

From: [identity profile]

If you have no objection, I am _totally_ swiping that concept.

(got a YA vampire comedy out doing the rounds - currently plotting the sequel)

From: [identity profile]

What really made me want to read more, though, were the hints at the end that all was not as it seemed, and that some standard plot and character tropes might not go in the way I was expecting.

This is what makes me love this series (beyond the sheer idtasticness, I mean). It does wonderful things with some of the character tropes. Really, really wonderful things.

My favorite character is Aphrodite, by the way.

I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's very much trashy and campy and silly, and it does have some real zinger offensive moments, but I heart it anyway.

From: [identity profile]

Ohh, so I was NOT hallucinating that there's more to Aphrodite than meets the eye! Awesome!

From: [identity profile]

Oh, you've made me remember that I can finally read this book! (I've been working on a YA vampire comedy myself, and didn't want to read anything in a similar genre until it was finished) It sounds like excellent brain-candy.

This series seems to be doing very well over here - all the bookstores have displays of it, and the library is constantly out of copies.

From: [identity profile]

This sounds so much like a manga that I am seeing manga-style images in my head to match your descriptions.

From: [identity profile]

I haven't read that one, but I did read the sequel and the sex themes really turned me off, despite my joy in the craziness. She spends way too much time stressing about being attracted to more than one person (human boyfriend, sexy vampire, creepy professor making moves on her). At some point realistic teenage angst makes me realize why I don't hang out with angsty fifteen year olds (yes, I'm looking at you, Order of the Phoenix, the first book I ever hid to avoid reading out loud to my child).

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