The Negative Reader

Drinking Tea and Trashing Books

Last part was awful. Truly and completely awful.

But don’t expect anything that even resembles a reaction against what we saw. So, Zoey and Neferet met one another again, and Neferet really must have moved quickly or Zoey must have been a lot more lost than she’s letting on.

Or the Casts just don’t really comprehend little things like how to pace a book.

So, Neferet opens the door and we get our first look at the courtyard of the House of Night. The weird thing is how it’s described doesn’t really give me a clear idea of the place.

To sum up:

  • There are groups of teenagers in uniforms that are not described not that I’m supposed to see as cool and unique standing around talking. They sound normal (no, that’s what Zoey says.)
  • The school itself looks “like something out of a creepy dream” (68).
  • There are gaslights in copper fixtures.
  • The building is made from red brick and black rock. Not a pleasant sounding combination. Or even all that creepy. Just ugly.
  • The building is three stories tall.
  • The building has a very high roof that flattens at the top.
  • There are heavy drapes in the windows. Some are open.
  • The building is described as welcoming, but apparently creepy.
  • There is a round tower in the front of the building.

This is actually a real building. It’s just really, really badly described. I’m going to hold off talking about it until later, and just focus on the description itself.

The problem with this description is that at some level, the Casts don’t give us a clear idea of what the building looks like. We know what it’s made of, we know some things about the roof and how many stories, and we know that there is a tower. That’s it.

How big is the building? Is it symmetrical? Is the tower in the center? To the side? What do the windows look like? Why does it look like a castle? All this is doing is giving me the impression that the Casts honestly don’t have a clear idea of what they’re school looks like. This is a real place, as I said before, and because it was a bad description, here we go.

It doesn’t really look all that much like a castle.

Now, in Harry Potter, we get don’t get a huge description of Hogwarts off the bat. It’s just described as ‘a vast castle with many turrets and towers’. However, it works because it isn’t confusing, and the castle itself isn’t as important as the landscape around it. The reason that the Casts don’t work despite more description is that that it’s confusing, and doesn’t bother to so much as sketch out the basics of what it looks like before going into details.

When writing descriptions, the best thing to do is to write out the bare bones of how the place looks and then move around it. Sort of like how you draw the basic shapes in a sketch and then add details.

Next to the building, is a smaller, older one that more church-like, though Zoey doesn’t state what she means. There is a wall behind it, and “a statue of a woman who was wearing long flowing robes” (62) in front of it.

Zoey automatically recognizes the picture as belonging to Nyx, and says so.

Neferet is shocked.

Now, I am aware that this is supposed to show Zoey recognizing Nyx immediately, and this showing her experience with her, but the fact that the vampires worship Nyx is common knowledge. The fact that she recognizes the statue shouldn’t be something that is even batted an eye at. Neferet should have just assumed that Zoey jumped to the right conclusion.

So, Neferet decides to give us some history for this particular building that I suppose is supposed to be impressive, but in reality, just causes more problems.

What is known today as the House of Night was built in the neo-French Norman style with stones imported from Europe. It originated in the mid-1920s as an Augustine monastery for the People of Faith. Eventually it was converted int Cascia Hall, a private preparatory school for affluent human teenagers. When we decided that we must open a school of our own in this part of the country, we bought it from Cascia Hall five years ago. (62)

Everything about that was terrible.

So, Cascia Hall is a real place. It’s Catholic Highschool which is run by Augustinian monks and was never once a monastery.

Again, the Casts are being dishonest. By using an actual location and then randomly misrepresenting the history, all that they’ve done is take a real place that had a very real history and decided to take a dumb on it because it looked cool and they were too lazy to bother making up their own school.

They’ve also ironically done the very thing that several groups tend to criticize the Christians for doing, namely taking another religion’s holy site and rededicating it to another god. Because it’s apparently not a bad thing when we do it.

Also, note that the People of Faith are Catholic now. (They fluctuate a lot) But I do want to mention something that the Casts probably don’t comprehend. They have monasteries. That means, by definition, that there would be something like a nunnery. Which means that Neferet’s later accusations in another book of the People of Faith turning women into ‘brood mares’ is basically garbage, since they have, within the structure of their faith, a means for women to never marry.

Of course, they didn’t think this through. They just want to sound like the vampires stuck it to the People of Faith because… Evangelicals of one religion don’t really like evangelicals of another.

Zoey helpfully informs us that it had once been “a stuck up private school” (62) which it totally isn’t now, and how it had been in the news because a large group of the students had taken drugs, and the adults had been surprised and no one else had.

Which is mostly useless information other than that they somehow deserved it, I guess.

Zoey mentions surprise that the school sold the place to the vampires.

Her laugh was low and dangerous. “They didn’t want to, but we made their arrogant headmaster an offer even he couldn’t refuse” (62).

So she threatened him.

She went to a religious site and essentially forced them to give up their land to them or else.

Where have I heard that before? But apparently that’s only bad when it’s not them doing it.

I’m going to remind everyone that these are the protagonists. You’re supposed to be rooting for them. You’re supposed to find it funny, and that think that the humans got what they deserved for daring to have something nice that the vampires wanted because it was exclusively for rich kids, and now it’s exclusively for vampires.

Also, the Casts are doing a poor job in giving me reasons for why the humans aren’t completely justified in wanting to kill the vampires, and why I should feel anything but disgust for this pseudo religion.

Zoey wants to ask more, but gets a bad feeling that tells her not to but remember Neferet’s a surprise villain and really subtile. And is easily distracted by how good looking everyone is who has a filled in tattoo, and we get some more world building, and Zoey decides to rant some more.

Yes, I knew vampyres were attractive. Everyone knew that. The most successful actors and actresses in the world were vampyres. They were also dancers and musicians, authors and singers. Vampyres dominated the arts, which is one reason they had so much money-and also one reason (of many) that the People of Faith considered then selfish and immoral. But really they’re just jealous that they’re not as good looking. The People of Faith would go to see their movies, plays, concerts, buy their books and their art, but at the same time they’d talk about and look down on them and God knows that they’d never, ever mix with with them. Hello-can you say hypocrates. (62-63)

Not really. TV has always been being entertained in your living room by people who you would never allow to be in your house. This is literally nothing new or exciting. It shows me how clueless that Casts actually are.

So, again, there are major, major world building issues here. The vampires are again shown as being rich, powerful, influential, and honestly completely untouchable to groups that honestly don’t like them like the People of Faith. The fact that Zoey is acting like the People of Faith looking down on them is a big deal is honestly pretty laughable.

They’re the social elite. They’re the people that people listen to. They’re the people in positions of influence. The Casts haven’t even given a hint that the People of Faith have a fraction of the power that the Religious Right have even now, let alone when they were at their peak, though I have a hunch that that is what they were going for. They’re not an oppressed group. They’re the establishment of this world, or at least a part of it. What’s more, I would highly doubt that the dominate squat on sheer talent given what we see later in the book. They’re dominating the field. That means that they’ll hire and work with like people. Humans in the arts would actually be the looked down.

Honestly, I’d love to hear a story in this universe about some plucky underdog human fighting to be able to sing or something in a world dominated by vampires that everyone seems to see as inherently superior to them.

Moving on. We get some faux humility from Zoey since she claims that she’s nervous around all the pretty people, which everyone bows to Neferet with that stupid fist over the heart thing. Zoey notes that the younger vampires aren’t as pretty or “don’t have the glossy inhumanely attractive light that radiated from inside eat of the adult” (63) vampires that Zoey sees. Personally, I’d assume it’s charm in order to lull their prey into a false sense of security, but I suppose I’m supposed to be impressed.

We also get the uniform described as being very black (we also get some whining at Goths for being boring because Zoey hates everyone) with little blue, purple and green plaid stripes…apparently all over the uniform…as well as an pretty design on the jacket.

She also notes that everyone has long hair, including the guys.

Soooo someone has a thing for long hair.

Good thing I’d talked myself out of getting my hair cut in that short duck butt style Kayla had cut hers off in last week. (64)

Are we seriously still crapping on Kayla? She’s not even really in this story anymore.

So, I have a question… Why is Zoey even friends with Kayla? I mean, she clearly can’t stand that girl and thinks everything that Kayla does is stupid. Zoey will never miss Kayla. Will never think anything positive about her and will essentially stop thinking about her the second something better show up. Why am I supposed to see them as friends?

When writing relationships like this where you’re clearly not supposed to like someone, you have to show me either the strain and how they used to be close friends and something happened, or they’ve just been drifting apart over a period of time, or that Zoey was honestly and truly hurt by Kaylas reaction to her changing, but we get…nothing.

But Zoey makes this all about her again, and for our final line in the chapter whines about how everyone is staring at her mark because it’s just so special.

So I was beginning my new life as an anomaly, which figured about as much as it sucked (64).

Because clearly that’s the worst part of this. Zoey looks abnormal.

I’m going to remind you that this was the chapter with a RAPE in it.

But Zoey being seen as weird is the thing that the Casts are going to focus on.

Next week we meet Zoey’s roommate, and Aphrodite who I would love if she wasn’t the girl from part one. We’re supposed to hate her but for completely different reasons! That’s basically all that’s going to happen…

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2 thoughts on “Marked Chapter 7 Part 2

  1. JoeMerl says:

    You know, there are plenty of real-life Christians who DON’T watch any mainstream media, pretty much confining themselves entirely to religious fare; it’s one of the big things ex-fundamentalists will mention when complaining about their upbringing. So yeah, I find that whole “the People of the Generic Name thing are such hypocrites” thing pretty unrealistic.


    1. You’re really right. I actually grew up with neighbors who were like that. As in the kinds that wouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it was ‘the Devil’s birthday’ and wouldn’t watch movies unless they were Christian. (They were somewhat scandalized when they were supposed to watch me, and I played out a murder mystery with my dolls).

      I think part of the problem is that the Casts don’t seem to have actually met real fundamentalists, or even researched anything about them. They also flip flop on if they’re fundamentalists or if they’re a stereotypical white suburban family who was obsessed with what the neighbors think, which is certainly not something I saw in my fundie neighbors or any others that I met.

      I think that they’re trying to say that if you watch movies but criticize the culture around celebrities or some of their behaviors, you’re a hypocrite. I’ve always found this stupid.


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