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.