After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is mis-using her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them.)
It has been years since I originally read Marked and over the course of time, I’ve found you lose something between each book. The time spent away from the series causes you to forget about key details and sometimes connections you may feel with a particular character. Because of this fact, I’ve opted to reread this series before reading the final book.
On the plus side, the Casts use one of my favorite styles of writing or at least in the sense, I feel it’s the best way for a reader to connect with the main character. By using Zoey’s inner dialogue, you get a chance to understand how they think and the reasoning behind their actions. In a way, it allows you to step into the story and experience it as if you were part of it, instead of just watching from above.
The book is a bit more juvenile for the age group it’s geared to appeal to. But, the idea of a vampire “finishing school” in the middle of Oklahoma is an intriguing concept. In many vampire-inspired books, vampires just exist. In the House of Night series, they have not only their own culture, but in a sense, their own religion. They worship the Greek goddess of the Night, Nyx and it is in her honor that this unusually matriarchal society is sprouted. While the Casts attempt to ensure male vampires are seen as equals in this society, they fail at making it a reality. Newly marked “fledglings” are expected to travel to the nearest House of Night to attend classes until they fully change into a vampire or their bodies reject the Change.
Despite being all powerful, Zoey does have many of the same self doubts and moments of uncertainty that you’d expect of any person faced with a new life and ultimately a new identity. After all, being marked isn’t a guarantee that one would become a vampire. In fact, it’s noted that one out of every ten fledglings’ bodies will reject the change and they will ultimately die. This thought lingers over Zoey’s head from the moment she’s marked and becomes addressed several times as a few of the fledglings die during her first few days. But as I was reading it, I began to notice a correlation in those who die and have a theory about an event in one of the upcoming books. It seems these deaths are connected with a traumatic injury to the body or in the case of Elliot, being used as a “refrigerator” (blood donor) for Aphrodite and the Dark Sons and Daughters.
Nyx’s words to Zoey during their first meeting foreshadows many things to come in the series. It is especially true in regards to the company that Zoey keeps. “Darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.” I suppose it’s a good piece of advice for anyone, but for this series particularly, it proves to be true.
Zoey Redbird: It’s obvious that Zoey is meant to be the golden girl of this series from the get go. First, she’s gifted with a first hand encounter with the goddess, Nyx, before ever stepping foot in the House of Night. This gift is evident as she becomes the first “fledgling” with a colored in crescent shape mark. As if that doesn’t make her stand out enough, she begins to experience bloodlust from the beginning and has an ultra rare (and seemingly unheard of) affinity for the five elements. So, no matter how much Zoey makes comments about her boobs being too small or her fears about having bouts with diarrhea, it’s hard to believe she stands any chance at a normal fledgling experience.
Stevie Rae: Stevie Rae seems like the nice girl who is just too nice for her own good. It’s apparent she’s not comfortable with confrontation and at times, she comes off as weak and even cowardly. If it weren’t for her befriending Zoey and the others, I feel as if Aphrodite and her “hags from hell” would have probably tortured the poor girl to the breaking point. Nonetheless, she seems to genuinely like and respect Zoey.
Damien: Every group of girls needs their token gay guy, right? According to this book, they do and for Zoey and her friends, there’s nobody better suited for the position than Damien. Unfortunately, he’s too smart for his own good. It’s a bit frustrating as he consistently shows off his vocabulary and lectures the others when they do not recognize a word. He’s supposed to be a good guy at the core, but in this book, he fails to prove it one way or another.
Shaunee/Erin “The Twins”: It’s ironic that they are friends of Zoey, Damien and Stevie Rae. After all, their personalities seem to fit the kind of girls that Aphrodite would have in her clique. While it seems they are not one for following a “hag” like Aphrodite, there are signs that perhaps their friendship isn’t exactly what it seems.
Aphrodite: As the token mean girl, Aphrodite has no problem meeting the criteria for the role. She has an air of entitlement about her and she expects to get what she wants. Zoey’s presence proves to enrage her, as for once, she’s no longer solely the center of attention. This jealousy only helps aid her in her ultimate downfall as she blindly does everything she can to make Zoey feel unwelcome. Though gifted with the affinity of foresight, Aphrodite is rumored to withhold her visions from Neferet. At first, Zoey assumes it is because she’s hateful, but by the end of the book, it’s clear Zoey feels things are not as simple as that.
Neferet: Beautiful and powerful, Neferet seems to serve as an ideal role model for Zoey and the other fledgling. However, there are several instances when Zoey has a gut feeling or an internal voice instructing her to withhold things from Neferet. If she is truly touched by the goddess herself and she has the foresight to hide things, then what does that say about Neferet?
It’s hard for me to rate this book, because there’s a part of me, the younger part who remembers how much I enjoyed the book when I first began the series. Now, several years older, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at some of the things that occur in the book. On the other hand, I was able to notice details and clues that I missed initially. For a Young Adult reader, I could easily see this as a four star book, but as an adult, I feel it’s on the low end of a three star rating.