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Book Reviews
November 19, 2008 posted by Nikki

Marked – P.C and Kristin Cast

Marked is the first novel in the House of Night vampyre series. It was published in 2007, so I realise I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon. Sadly, I’m wondering why I bothered at all. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this series, so perhaps I set my expectations a little too high when I started reading, but as I sit here with my fingers hovering over my keyboard I’m lost for positive words.

P.C and Kristen Cast certainly have the right idea, but the execution, in my opinion, is all wrong. In sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampires (note, with a ‘y’ not an ‘i’) have always existed, and unlike most other vampire novels around at the moment, everyone knows about them. They’re integrated into society, and they even have their own finishing school! Zoey, freshly marked as a fledgling, heads off to the House of Night Finishing School to learn all about being a vampyre.

Vampyre Finishing school isn’t all that different to regular high school. Except classes are at night (because vampyres are naturally nocturnal), and on top of all the regular school stuff, fledglings are required to take classes that will help them harness their powers. Readers follow Zoey as she makes new friends (and enemies) and quickly discovers that her new school is full of very attractive vampyre boys. Suddenly, Zoey feels like she is in high school heaven! But Zoey imprints on her ex-boyfriend, and forms a unique bond with him that is almost impossible to break. Such relationships between human and vampyre for a fledgling of her level are prohibited, however, and our protagonist finds herself in a bit of hot water.

The plot is strong and original enough, so I can understand why so many people are drawn to this novel. I had certainly never entertained the idea of a vampyre finishing school before reading this book. The characters, however, are its downfall. Zoey is little more than a two-dimensional cardboard cut-out. She’s tacky, weak and uninspiring. Being inside her head was frustrating and I found it impossible to lose myself in the story. I didn’t feel like I was sharing her experiences with her, and watching her stumble through one predictable situation after the next got tiring.

Heath – Zoey’s human imprint – displays no remarkable character traits whatsoever. He’s dopey, lazy and is definitely not the kind of boy you’d want as a boyfriend. Apart from the fact that he’s Zoey’s imprint, as an individual character he adds almost nothing to the narrative flow. It would have made for a much more interesting read if Zoey had imprinted on someone with enough brains to actually create some kind of trouble. Heath, however, reminds me a little of a loyal dog: always there, but achieves very little.

On the plus side, the cover art for this book is spectacular. The picture attached to this review does not do it justice. It is simple, yet incredibly eye catching and lures the potential reader into thinking that its pages hold a dark and chilling mystery. Sadly, cover art can be very misleading and this is a perfect of example of why we should never judge a book by its cover.

Rating: : ★½☆☆☆

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42 Comments

  • This review is horrible! I read this series and loved it. I also read this before I read the Twilight series, I have been reading vampire series since 2000 with the first book in the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. I am a pretty good judge of book character and I really enjoy this entire series.

    • I can’t agree with you more.

  • Hahaha Kat,

    A lot of people have disagreed with my book review for the House of Night series. But I stand by my opinion. I really didn’t like it. Obviously a lot of people do that because its a best seller.

  • Maybe you should press on and read Betrayed. I was like you, Nikki – didn’t enjoy the first book. But I PROMISE you, it improves vastly. Heath actually becomes something more than an empty-headed idiot, and Zoey becomes a little more dimensional, I think.

    I hope you decide to give it another chance, as you did the Vampire Academy series. Just another example of how series may not begin so great but DO get better.

  • Despite this series many annoying love triangles I still would have givin it a better rating. In my opinon it was entertaining and drew me in.

  • I love this book.
    No offence but i think that rating was a bit harsh, this book shouldn’t have got a rating under 3.
    I agree with KJ to give the series another chance.

  • I agree with you on this review.
    I have to say though, I liked the first two books much better than how it is playing out. Zoey is acting fickle and rarely shows the strength needed for someone who is meant to play the part of the heroine, not only that but her love life is very muddled.
    I’ll admit that I’ve spedread the series and I’m hoping that eventually a book would come out where at least one of the major problems are solved. It seems to have started going in circles for me.
    Besides I don’t enjoy having real life celebrities mentioned in a fictional story. It just mixes the whole fantasy versus real life issue.

    cheers
    janee

  • I agree with this review. Truth be told, I couldn’t even read past the first couple of chapters. Although the premise of the series is interesting enough, it was the dry and non-descriptive writing that I could not get past…

  • I found this book on my friends night stand and the cover looked pretty so I’d thought I’d take a look at it…I couldn’t even get past the first chapter, I thought that it was horrible. Some books I can take a little bit of boredom in the first few chapters but I seriously didn’t see the point in reading anymore.

  • don’t read the rest of the series. i read all of them just so i could argue with my aunt about how devistatingly predictable the whole thing is. i think the worst part for me was the fact that zoey annoys me more than lissa in vampire academy. i think it would have been more interesting from aphrodite’s prospective, but still, i don’t think its worth reading.

  • Gah! Totally agree with you on this book. It was so freakin’ annoying. The thing that annoyed me the most is that the author tried WAY too hard to make it seem funny/cool/casual/realistic and it came across as grating. With some serious editorial pruning it could have been MUCH better. However, I am really nosey and will prob read the others 😉

  • I actually found Zoey tolerable. Until the third book, that is. As the story progressed, I found her extremely irritating and weak and stupid. As for Heath… he changes. He became sweet. I DID find him annoying during the first few books, though.

  • Have you read all 5 of the books, in which the 6th book comes out this tuesday!
    They are amazing. I didn’t even know about them until my school librarian was behind her desk reading them and told me all about it.
    The story line gets beyond amazing and Heath starts playing a bigger part. Zoey also grows much more mature and her character become much more complex and eventually everything fits together. A movie is also being made for each book in the series in the years too come. I never justify a book with my opinion until I have read every since book that contains that story. Try that before you write such a nasty review.

  • So heres the deal
    when i first read the book, i was into the story but i still thought that it was written horribly. i continued the series cuase i was curious. i just finished the last one so far last night, and it had me in tears. This series affected me, and i can not wait for the next one to come out.
    give it another tryy

  • It seems that everyone is focusing on how annoying and weak Zoey is. However, it’s not her I focus on but her friends and the other characters in the book as they are what make me love the series. The plots are different to anything I’ve read before and I can’t believe the rating is only 2.5! It deserves so much more!

  • I agree with you, Livvy!

  • This series annoys the hell out of me! Zoey’s friends are really sweet, and all she does is screw things up. It’s like the series would be amazing if Zoey was gone. To me she just needs to stop screwing up all the good things that happen to her. It seems all she can do is complain. The problem for me is I still want to know what happens to her friends, so I keep reading, even if Zoey bugs the crap out of me.

  • what the hell… are u shiting me this series is freaking awesom ..i have read all the booke so far and i tell u it’s really good … and it’s totally worth “bothring ” yourself to read it …and this story review doesn’t do it it’s justice at alllllllll

  • I’m loving the mixed feelings about my review. I think discussions like this prove that there are many different kinds of readers out there and one person’s review might not necessarily mean that much.

    I’d be very interested to know the age of the people replying who are saying they loved this series, as opposed to those who didn’t.

  • well I think I was 15 when I read it…and I still feel the same about it

  • …..I am 31!

  • im 14..young yes i know but i did enjoy this series. i mean, people are saying zoe was weak and annoying but i think that everyone srews up in good friendships…i did. i think thats why i love her, its because i get what shes feeling, even if that feeling is misunderstood and fustrated. but seriously, the suspence for the rest of the book is killing me!

  • btw grumpy in your earlier comment you said the book was trying too hard, i think you have to make an effort to love the books before you hate them. everyone has a different opinion like in VA…i acctualy dont mind lissa. i think rose needs someone besides dimka to keep her in check

  • Well that is the problem Maiawa – I believe that if a book is good enough I shouldn’t have to make an ‘effort’ to like it – it should just happen. I have probably read thousands of books, so I know this is how it happens for me :)

  • I must agree with the review. I picked the book up in a store and read some because of the number of times people have recommended it to me. I never want to open it again. The characters, as you said, are very poor in quality, as is the writing style in general. Plot is worthless if you can’t even stand the writing. As for those who say that the second book is much better, that simply isn’t true. I considered it, so I read part of the second book. I still hated every bit of it.

  • i think the books are amazing. and yah maybe the first chapter was a little boring its like that with almost every book. and i cant believe some of you were saying she is weak. she can control all five elements and kick some serious ass. and yah she could have made her choses a litte more care fully. but every body makes mistakes and wouldnt you if you had to deal with all the shit thats happening in her life and if some of you had read further into the series you might have noticed that she is trying to SAVE THE WORLD! and all of the people in it from burning and bieng controled by evil. and having neferet go all sicco evil bitch and trying to kill zoey so that she cant isnt very good! but different people have different oppinions and those of you who didnt have a long enough attention span to get past the first chapter…well,you clearly arent going to go very far in life.

  • I agree with this review. If anything I think that this review was too generous. I honestly thought it was the worst book I’ve ever read. The characters were horrible and the authors had an agenda which was very annoying.I don’t know why anyone would read the second book.If it was 100 times better it would still be a bad book. It might sound harsh, but that is my honest opinion. I wish I had read this review first.

  • yah it is your own oppinion but the books get more and more interesting and the seventh book you wont be able to stop ready there r deffinitly alot of wtf omfg moments cant wait till the eithe one

  • i totally hated the book. i really tried hard to read it, hoping it would become interesting , then after a couple of chapters had to stop reading it cause it was terrible- the plot , the characters , the writing everything. its nothing compared to the twilight.

  • I completely agree with this review. The fact that these books get more hype than say

  • I completely agree with this review. The fact that these books get more hype than say The Mortal Instruments or the Chaos Walking Triloy etc gives teen fiction a bad name. The plot is cliched, Zoey is pathetic, Aphrodite is no different than any other bitchy high school queen and the whole idea of the book is painful to read.

    I actually cringed at a certain scene in the hallway involving Aphrodite, Erik and Zoey, which was tacky and rather disgusting. Never got over it.

    I know a lot of people are saying that “the books get better after the first one” but that really is no excuse. A rubbish book is a rubbish book, no matter how good it’s sequels are, and the first one always sets the tone for the rest of the series.

  • I actually found the first one kind of amusing, in a tacky, spoof-ish kind of way. Her friends were pretty hilarious at times and the whole thing seemed tongue-in-cheek, so I decided to go on and read the others.

    Unfortunately, the tackiness remained, but it actually seemed to be taking itself seriously :L As someone who has read all of the books, I can confirm Nikki’s opinion that they are pretty awful. I finally stopped reading them when I realised I was only doing it so that I could laugh my ass off then write a bad review afterwards, which is not a great reason to be reading a book. I was 14 when I read Marked, and I wonder if the whole post-Twilight thing made me think it was OK. But after reading books like The Mortal Instruments & The Poison Throne, it’s not even on the same level.

    I can honestly say that Zoey is a character who has evoked more homicidal tendencies in me than any other, ever. Aphrodite and even Stevie Rae ended up being more engaging than her, and that really isn’t saying much. And I totally agree with the dog thing about Heath – I used to see him as this big, simple labrador who keeps getting kicked by his owner, but just can’t stop coming back anyways. :L So many books are so much better than this melodramatic drivel – even Twilight beats it hands down, HTG. (:

  • I couldn’t agree more. I never liked the series but i find myself continually reading them. I guess i hoped that in some way Zoey would stop being so annoying but she never did.

  • What the…? The House of Night is my most favourite series besides Vampire Academy. Sure, there were some times when Zoey bugged me but she is a great character. When the movie is made the books will be more popular than Twilight. Shame on you.

  • BTW: I was 13 when I read Marked.

  • I applaud your honest review of this. It seems that you never did move beyond the first book and give the rest of them a chance to capture you, but I did. And I regret it. I kept reading, hoping the writing would get better. In fact, I have read all of the House Of Night books, but I would never buy them. I read them mostly because I was bored and someone loaned me all of them. The plot is actually pretty interested, but the flatness of the characters and the APPALLING writing just kills me. It seems that Kristin Cast is trying way too hard to inject her mommy’s book with “teen speak”, and she just fails so hard. I was really disappointed that so many young adults are caught up in these books (because of the hype) when there are so many that are fabulously written and much more worthy of their time.

  • Hey Miranda = You obviously don’t know a good book when you see one.

  • I kinda get what Miranda was saying, but I still love the books and there are worse books i could be reading. Some kids in my class think captain underpants is still at our reading level and we are 14. But I read ALOT of other books and some teenagers do talk like that.

  • Zoey’sBFF, you are entitled to your opinion, as am I. Honestly, even though I don’t like the books, I’m glad you’re reading them. In the grand scheme of things, I think it’s the most important thing that kids and young adults are reading at all. I know many would disagree, but there you go. Just reading *something* is the only way to open the door to other genres and experiences.

  • I’m with Miranda on this one.

    I read the first three and haaaaated the series, but yeah, I guess its good to get people to start reading.

    *cough* just maybe not these books? 😀

  • The series gets better as you go along. And I’m also obsessed with P.C Cast’s Goddess of Partholon series. Now this is a series you could get into.

  • I read the series and liked it until I got the Untamed, becoz I got turned off when Zoey turned out to a slut.

    Zoey character is okay, but the plots are a bit cheesy when it comes to rituals and elements, they are fine and interesting ideas at first but when we read how Zoey starts summoning for help over and over again, it gets right down boring.

    Besides, the author doesn’t show the unique personality or Zoey’s origin in the first book, that’s why it leaves many readers stranding in doubt, like whether Zoey is a vampyre by birth or turned or something else related to the genetic? There’s no history about her ancestors except her Cherokee grandma, which doesn’t explain anything, so the book seemed to start from nothing, which doesn’t make the book something either.

    Anyway, the series is still a page-turner, becoz the writers know how to hook the readers.

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