Marked Chapter 3

I’ll say this. If PCK’s goal was to make me hate Zoey right off, they’ve done an admirable job. She’s a maudlin teen that’s extremely spoiled who complains about her home life which isn’t bad at all. If she were real, MTV would have already given her a show and it would probably be called ‘The Hardest Life in the Whole World’. Although that’s going to be a problem if we’re supposed to empathize with Zoey.

So far, PCK has given us no reason to agree with any of her sentiments. Her mom doesn’t pay enough attention to her? She’s in her late teens, that’s the age when you don’t want your parents to hassle you. Her mom remarried? Oh boo hoo. Was her mom supposed to curl up and die when Zoey’s father disappeared? She’s turning into a vampire? How sad for her. She’ll probably be inconsolable what with all the super powers and immortality that comes with it.

If PCK had bothered to sit down and establish the setting a little then we might care. Show us her dysfunctional family, show mom coming home late from another day shopping or from the spa. Show step dad being controlling of his new family and that the comfort he offers comes with a price. Show the siblings suffering under a mask. It doesn’t have to take long, just a quick peek behind the curtain so we understand what makes Zoey tick.

Instead, PCK counts on us to just identify with Zoey because she’s a teen and the protagonist. Of course her mom and step dad are being unfair, that’s what parents do! Of course her siblings are unhappy, Zoey’s unhappy therefore anyone on the side of good must also be.

One last thing, I really, really hated that line they threw in there about the brother hiding “bloody video games” from their mother. Not only was that supposed to show us that Zoey’s mom is out of touch with her son but it was a swipe at video games. PCK figures he should do something more wholesome like turn into a vampire so he has to kill people for real.

We start off with Zoey making fun of step dad’s last name. It’s Heifer and she says yes that’s really his last name as if we won’t believe it. Which really isn’t funny or odd. Now if his last name was Butts, that might be worth a giggle but I guess PCK thought that would be too puerile. Yeah, better to go with the female cow that hasn’t been bred yet as a surname. Zoey then tells us he looks like an okay guy, even normal and that some women her mom knew would say he’s charming and handsome.

I never liked him. Really. I’m not just saying that because I can’t stand him now. From the first day I met him I saw only one thing―a fake. He fakes being a nice guy. He fakes being a good husband. He even fakes being a good father.

Oh, and I imagine that a worldly wise teen from east side of the panhandle state would know all about that. How does he fake all this again? Does he tell everyone how much time his kid’s soccer practice is taking up while secretly stealing down to the local massage parlor to play “release of the mighty snake”? Does mom have a lot of “accidents” with moving coffee tables and shifting stairs? Oh, you don’t have any examples PCK? I didn’t think so.

We do get a description of him finally. Zoey says he looks like every other “dad-age” guy. Dark haired, developing pauch and “skinny chicken legs”. Wow, so all guys transform into this template right around that age? No wonder so many guys have a mid life crisis. Oh yes, and Zoey says that his eyes are like his soul, a washed out brown. Which is interesting that she can tell so much about his soul. Is this a new power that comes with being a vampire or just the usual teenage crap?

Let’s see, he starts off saying “get thee behind me satan”. Which pegs him squarely in the religious nut stock character catalog. Zoey’s mom is putting on the act of hysterical mother, so says Zoey. While Step dad says that Zoey’s “bad behavior” has finally caught up to her. Zoey of course takes us aside and says that those stories about becoming a vampire through bites is wrong and completely fiction. You know, because PCK’s vampires are “different”. Zoey says that it’s nothing she did and that every scientist on the planet would say the same thing. She says they’ve been unable to find where the gene is while they work on a vaccine.

“Scientists are not all-knowing. They are not men of God.”

Care to guess who’s line that is? I didn’t think so. Apparently Zoey studied vampires in biology a couple of months ago. Apparently it’s part of “junk DNA” that happens to activate in some teenagers bodies on its own. Ok, then why the hell did Zoey need to be marked? And why didn’t she have a craving for blood until she got the mark?

And I have bad news for you, PCK. “junk DNA” doesn’t work that way. If Zoey really “studied” the topic in biology you’d think she’d know better. For one, the term is non-coding DNA and even a fourth rate science teacher would cover that. Secondly, if it was a genetic factor that was responsible for the change to vampire, it would be fairly easily identifiable as a common factor between vampires. Thirdly, being as it activates it wouldn’t be considered non-coding. It might be able to be a recessive trait that only expresses if the progeny inherits both copies from both parents but no one would consider it park of “junk DNA”. Fourthly, they wouldn’t be looking for a “vaccine” unless they believed there was an environmental factor which acted as a catalyst or at least had a clear link. You know, like how the research shows a connection between HPV and cervical cancer.

Do you know why my knife cut so well there, PCK? That’s because you tried to add some legitimacy to your book by grabbing a handful of buzzwords off the internet and throwing them into the pot. If you can’t be bothered to at least read a Wikipedia article, then don’t talk about it. Oh, and PCK thanked their dad/grandpa respectively for the biological method of vampirism in the acknowledgements. I think they might want to print a retraction in the next edition.

Zoey says she never said that scientists are smarter than god. Mom starts freaking out about the neighbors and what everyone will say at the next “Meeting”. Step dad says he doesn’t need anything explained to him by a kid and Zoey uses that moment to insult her step dad’s fashion sense.

Well, he was wearing those really bad pants and that awful shirt. Clearly he did need some things explained to him by a teenager, but I didn’t think it was the right time to mention his unfortunate and obvious fashion impairment.

Oh, well pardon me, queen of the fashionistas. And what, pray tell, is the height of fashion for men who all look the same at that “dad-age”? Maybe it’s the blood of their snotty, ungrateful step children with more attitude than brains. It’d be a pity if he went Terry O’Quinn from the Stepfather on her and killed her and the whole family with a hedge trimmer, wouldn’t it? Maybe then we could follow around the crazy stepfather as he succumbs to a latent vampire infection.

Stepdad says they’re going to turn this over to god which apparently means calling the family psychologist. They’re also getting a bunch of other “elders”—the Elders of the Internet!?—to come surround the house and pray. Zoey says that’s stupid and that she has to get to the “house of night” or she’ll just keep getting sicker and sicker. She realizes they’re not letting her go so she says she’ll go lay down while they get the ‘prayer tree” started and call the elders.

Zoey’s mom—who still doesn’t have a name—says she’ll probably feel better. She also asks if Zoey wants some NyQuil? NyQuil, for the nighttime, fever, sneezing, coughing, vampirism so you can wake up on the right side of the grave medicine. Now in easy to take garlic tabs. Zoey declines the panacea that is NyQuil and her mom tells her to over up the mark with some powder. Zoey tries to not cry as she walks away.

I’m going to remember this, I told myself sternly. I’m going to remember how awful they made me feel today. So when I’m scared and alone and whatever else is going to happen to me starts to happen, I’m going to remember that nothing could be as bad as being stuck here. Nothing.

That’s right, focus that angst. Why don’t you carve a poem about it into your forearm? You know Zoey, there are kids that live in fundamentalist households that put up with things like beatings on a regular basis. Only they don’t have the promise of immortality and superpowers waiting for them when they get out of it. So you’ll have to forgive me when the only thing I want to do is chain Zoey to the back of a semi and drag her down the highway for a thousand miles after the screams stop.

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9 Responses to Marked Chapter 3

  1. maeverin says:

    Elders and prayer trees? is this part of that Cherokee ancestry she holds dear/in contempt? because if not i’m at a loss.

    Ok, i WANT to believe that PCK were actually intelligent enough to be writing Zoey like this conciously– whiney, angsty, overdramatic– as a set up for some character development.

    and i suddenly have a real bad feeling the stepdad is going to go the way of Sloan. and/or that he’s a werewolf.

    • vivisector says:

      The whole elders and prayer tree is part of Stepdad’s religion. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be a sort of a fundamentalist sect that sprung up in response to the vampires but PCK is close mouthed about it.

      And I’d like Zoey to grow as a character, I don’t want her to be a flat and unlikable jerk. But I get that feeling that this is going to be very similar to Eragon and I can see the parallels between Sloan and Stepdad already.

  2. emotedllama says:

    Aha, I figured out why you’re sporking this book! You’re just jelus of Zoey’s fashion skills! 😛

    • maeverin says:

      well, pffft–who isn’t? i’ll bet she totally rocks those [currently trendy pants] and kickin’ [currently trendy shoes]!

      • emotedllama says:

        You mean [culturally outdated pants] and [culturally outdated shoes]? Because remember, this is a bad book and thus its pop culture references are likely to be poor.

    • Curmudgeonly_Caiman says:

      Naw, he’s jelly of Zoe’s super speshul Native American skillz.

  3. Curmudgeonly_Caiman says:

    THANK YOU. I don’t know how that genetics thing ever flew. It’s not like it would have been that hard to write. I’m no genetics major (fisheries and wildlife ftw) but even I learned in bio that “junk strands” are exactly that. They start doing stuff, they stop being that.

    Also, I can’t hold up the headcanon that the stepfather is actually got good intentions but is misguided. I mean, he’s arranged for a family therapist and a prayer circle, which shows he cares on some level. Sure, the whole “get thee behind me satan” makes the Westboro boys look subtle, but come on, I’d yell the same thing to such a repugnant piss-ant like Zoey.

    • chocolatesamus says:

      True dat about junk DNA being just what it sounds like.

      Although there is a way it could work… although junk DNA is useless, there are genes that apparently turn off and on. For example, chickens actually have the necessary genes to grow teeth, but the gene sequence is “turned off”. Maybe that’s what the authors were trying to talk about, but it’s still a research failure.

    • vivisector says:

      I always hate when authors throw in science buzzwords that they don’t understand and pretend it explains it. I don’t expect everyone to be as knowledgeable as Michael Crighton when they talk about science but if they don’t know, don’t explain. They should heed that old adage about keeping quiet rather than speaking and proving yourself a fool.

      And as far as Stepdad goes, I was expecting more bible quotes. At least “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” or something about casting devils out. If the best he can do is “get thee behind me satan” then I have to say I’m unimpressed with his religious fervor.

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