House of Night: Marked by PC and Kristin Cast

What would you do if you were suddenly told you are a segregated member of the population and must live like them and take on their religion?

markedThat’s the question that Zoey Montgomery faces in Marked, the first novel in mother-daughter writing team PC and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series. Zoey Montgomery is your average Oklahoma high school girl with a silly, shallow best friend Kayla and a pig of a football-playing boyfriend Heath. Her mother, who was left by her father after her youngest siblings were born, has remarried a jerk who is a member of “The People of Faith” temple, which is obviously Christianity. Once marked with a symbol on her forehead, Zoey must report to a House of Night, a vampire school, or she will die. Her mother and stepfather refuse because of the discrimination against vampires, so Zoey goes to her Cheerokee grandmother, Grandma Redbird. There, her grandmother, who is very liberal and spiritual, takes her to the House of Night, after Zoey hits her head and has a vision of being chosen by the Goddess Nyx. The High Priestess Neferet promises to take Zoey under her wing as her mentor. Zoey is allowed to change her name, which she choses Zoey Redbird, changing her last name. As Neferet lets Zoey say good-bye to her Grandma, Zoey goes to her new dormitory room, where Zoey sees the Dark Daughter’s leader, Aphrodite, trying to give a really cute guy a blow job.

Zoey goes on to her room and meets her new roommate, Stevie Rae, a really sweet girl, and then makes friends with Stevie Rae’s “outcasts” friends like Erin Bates and Shaunee Cole, who think of themselves as “twins,” although Shaunee is black & Erin is white. I personally think they could have been one character, unless the Casts have something else in mind for them in later books. They’re basically stupid and sassy. What group of friends doesn’t need that? TIMES TWO! Then, there’s Damien Maslin, the gay friend. The best part of what the Casts have done is that they flesh out the gay characters and make them three-dimensional and accepted in the society. They explain about the Goddess Nyx, whose image is all over campus. None of the protagonists in particular resist being forced to change religions. They go “Oh hey, I get to go from being a Christian to a Pagan. Cool.” That kind of change doesn’t quite make sense to me.

Zoey’s group is not the most popular Clique on campus. Aphrodite is forced to invite Zoey to a Dark Daughters ritual because Zoey is Neferet’s mentee. Zoey says she’ll think about it. Her friends basically tell her that there is no choice because Neferet is her mentor and the overseer of the Dark Daughters.

Zoey starts her first day (or night, since they have classes at night), and discovers that she is in lurve with the most popular boy in school, Erik Night who was rejecting Aphrodite’s blow job earlier. Yeah, I’d find a guy making out with his girlfriend in the hallway hawt, too. Later, she goes to the first ritual after class, and discovers that she specializes in all the elements, making her very special. It’s obviously a Wiccan ceremony.

pc kristin castSome people believe “The People of Faith” are symbolically The Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints because they spoke of church elders, etc. The Cast portrayed them as very prejudiced and very angry and intolerant in Marked. A lot of Christians in general were offended at the books and have been very vocal about it. The Casts defend that they are putting out a Matriarchal Pagan religion as opposed to a Patriarchal religion and they are promoting tolerance, not a religion, but while they talk “tolerance” they’ve pushed a lot of hateful attitudes towards people who believe in Jesus Christ. This has turned off a lot of readers who are culturally, not religious in form, as Christians.  I have heard that later on in the books they put in a Christian character that was not intolerant or hateful, so this is encouraging to me, so I might actually read the later ones, Untamed, Hunted, and Tempted.PCandKristinCast I felt like if they wanted to preach Christians as cruel people and an invalid religion based on its own cruelty, this book should have been marketed as religious young adult fiction, not young adult fiction. I understand that Wicca has been preached against as a religion- former President George W. Bush stated, while governor of Texas, that he did not believe that Wicca was a religion. Wiccans, for years, have been persecuted. In the South, the Bible Belt, anything other than Protestant Christianity can be frowned upon. I can understand that the Casts may have been subject to this; and of course, they wrote what they knew; supposed “Christians” being horrible and cruel to them. But, as a message to them, I want to let them know that not all believers and followers of Christ are hypocritical and cruel and exclusive. We’re all one human family.

Similarities to Twilight:

I have read three of the books so far, Betrayed and Chosen. The writing didn’t seem to improve.

The problems I had with the books was that Zoey seemed a little too perfect to be true, much like Bella Swan. In fanfiction, it’s called the Mary Sue phenomenon. Zoey didn’t really have any faults, just like Bella’s only fault was clumsiness, not anything real like a short temper or something really terrible. The character was just not flawed. Zoey was cute and sweet and always right unless someone deceived her and always knew the right thing to do. I never really saw her curse in this book, she did everything perfectly and was ‘the Chosen One’ without any of the angst of Harry himself and the whole plot revolved around Zoey just because it could, just like all the Twilight novels and Bella.

Erik is supposed to be really mysterious and beautiful like Edward, but he really lacks a lot of it.

The Edward Cullen similarity ranking:

Vampires: Check

So, I give it a 1 out of 10 in similarity.

Do I recommend it? That’s a slippery slope.

The House of Night is a hybrid of Twilight and Harry Potter, if you could compare the two, and a bit of Gossip Girl as well with all the name-dropping of brands and popular singers and TV shows like the Casts do, which marks the date in which the book was written, making it more a pulp fiction book than a classic, a big no-no to me.

On the plus side, the Casts seemed to have planned out the novel very, very well- the universe is very complete and consistent early on and easily explained. Did I enjoy the first novel? Somewhat. It’s hit the New York Times Best Seller List several times, if that speaks anything for it.

It felt it somewhat immature in voice and the sexual situations seemed kind of inappropriate for that fact. It seems that the books are recommended for teens from the age of 11-14. I don’t really recommend this, though, due to the sexual situations. Sex is alright to talk about, but it seemed kind of graphic, the way that they were describing Erik and Aphrodite. The question is always raised, should sex be an act witnessed by teens? Most people say no, but there is a segment of the population that will argue that teens need to see what it’s like so it won’t be a mystery and an obcession, leading to having it just to say you’ve had it and instead, experiencing when they’re more mature and really in love. After reading the next two books in the series, it’s obvious the Casts are obviously a little more liberal and trying to give the idea that sex is something for a real relationship, not a mystery or a status symbol.

I loved that they made Damien a major character and later gave him a gay boyfriend. Bravo! Gay people can be heroes, too, and the Casts recognize that and encourage people to think that way.

Overall, I just can’t recommend this book out of ambiguity. I don’t feel particularly yay or nay towards it. Zoey’s voice is meant for a younger teen audience, but the sexual references are a grey area for me. I feel both ways about the way sex is represented in this book. Older readers will be annoyed with Zoey’s voice, younger readers will be surprised by the amount of sex.

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~ by whattoreadaftertwilight on September 18, 2009.

One Response to “House of Night: Marked by PC and Kristin Cast”

  1. […] Thing: Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast A Bookaholic’s Review: Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast What to Read After Twilight: Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you have read this book, […]

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