The thing I hate most about Zoey and her teen angst is how we’re supposed to take it all seriously. Whenever she says something is a huge injustice, we’re supposed to agree with her. We’re not going to discover that Zoey is merely being melodramatic right now and that later she’ll grow up a bit. There will be no character development, no moment of self realization and definitely no change in attitude.
And I can hear you naysayers out there going ‘Neigh, neigh! Ahem, I mean nay! How can you be so bold, Vivi, to say that now? You’ve hardly cracked the spine and already you’ve written it off.’ And yes, that’s true and unfair but I’m getting the same feeling from it that I did from Eragon and Twilight and Maximum Ride. And I’ll eat those words if I’m wrong but I’d bet my plate will be bare when the end of this book comes. Zoey has the major warning signs of a Mary Sue and she’s got them in spades. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she’s an incredibly special vampire on top of her mixed heritage and “rebellious” nature.
But don’t let that prediction fill you with doom and gloom, my associates in surgery. We will gather around the operating table as we have before and we shall examine the patient with care. Why? Because it’s fun to pull bad things apart and to critique stories that should have died in the drafts. But more importantly, because we might learn something.
We start with Zoey hiking up the path to the bluffs. This makes her feel even sicker which reminds her of Meg Ryan from “French Kiss”. Why look at that folks, yet another reference to something from the nineties. Referencing things from that decade isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that shouldn’t be the only one. It comes across like either this was written in the nineties or that Zoey hasn’t heard/read/seen anything new since 1999.
Zoey begins complaining that her nose is running and that it’s really gross. PCK spends as much time describing it as she did telling us what Stepdad looks like. Then she wonders if that’s what killed those other kids, if they just choked on their own snot. This spurs her on to find her grandma.
I needed to find Grandma Redbird. If Grandma didn’t have the answers, she’d figure them out. Grandma Redbird understood people. She said it was because she hadn’t lost touch with her Cherokee heritage and the tribal knowledge of the ancestral Wise Women she carried in her blood. Even now it made me smile to think about the frown that came over Grandma’s face whenever the subject of the step-loser came up (she’s the only adult who knows I call him that). Grandma Redbird said that it was obvious that the Redbird Wise Woman blood had skipped over her daughter, but that was only because it had been saving up to give an extra dose of ancient Cherokee magic to me.
I think I’ve figured one of the reasons that characters like this are unlikable. Because the authors want to make them unique and well rounded but they don’t understand characterization. In their clumsy effort to make a memorable protagonist, they give them a bunch of “uniqueness” traits. Like turning Eragon into an elf or Bella being immune to Edward’s mind rape.
But the traits they give them are always things they didn’t earn. The character doesn’t have to do a thing to get it. They just sit around and wait for their talent to make its appearance so they can get the show on the road. So there’s no struggle for them, we feel no tension, and thus the character remains flat.
What really solidified this theory for me was thinking about Eragon and his talent with the sword. Yes, I know, more Eragon crap but bear with me. Remember how much Chris focused on sword training throughout the book? How many chapters did we waste watching Eragon spar with various elves and characters? And then it turns out that it wasn’t important. Eragon could have been a quadriplegic and still defeated Gabby.
So why did Chris focus so heavily on that? Because without it, Eragon has nothing to be defined by. The overpowered talents are the hack author’s only way to make their characters stand out against the mooks. Of course it’s also self indulgent fantasy but that goes without saying.
Back to Zoey, who’s telling us all about the “Cherokee legends” that she heard all about form her grandma like how the stars were put in the sky and so forth. Have you ever noticed how stories featuring Native Americans always seem to do that? They always relate, sometimes secondhand, some legend of one tribe or another especially a creation myth. But they rarely do that with, say, a Sikh or a Buddhist.
PCK continues to drive home the point that Zoey’s grandma is Native American. She talks about the powwows she was taken to as a kid and the Cherokee words she was taught and blah blah blah. Then she hears or thinks she does her grandma telling her that the spirits of the land are nothing to be afraid of and there’s a sudden wind that wasn’t there until she thought of the Cherokee word for wind.
And suddenly Zoey believes she’s surrounded by her ancestors who are dancing around a fire and beating drums. They’re telling her to join them and call her daughter. This frightens her and she ends up running up the rest of the trail “like they’d opened up all the stores at the mall and they were giving away free shoes”. Because all women would run for free shoes or something.
Zoey then trips on a root and falls over. She then has an out of body experience and assumes she’s dead. If only we could be so lucky. PCK makes some wry social commentary through her, which I’m skipping over this time, and floats towards the light while feeling ecstatic.
Someone calls out to her so Zoey goes towards the voice thinking it’s her grandma. Her “spirit” follows the voice to a cave and then down a stream while the voice says to follow to her “destiny”. This leads her to a beautiful woman sitting cross-legged who addresses Zoey in Cherokee. It goes without saying that Zoey can understand it flawlessly even though she hasn’t spoken it in years.
Zoey says she’s not her grandma. The woman says no but she knows Sylvia—a very traditional Cherokee name—Redbird well. She says Zoey has been released into the land of the spirits temporarily. Then she tells Zoey that she’s so special that snowflakes are jealous. The lady is impressed that Zoey can remember the word for spirit land.
Your grandmother has taught you well, u-s-ti Do-tsu-wa…little Redbird. You are a unique mixture of the Old Ways and the New World―of ancient tribal blood and the heartbeat of outsiders.
Zoey asks who she is and it turns out that the lady is Nyx who’s also known as the vampire goddess. Apparently the Greeks were the first to make the change but the Native Americans knew her too. Nyx tells Zoey to find her destiny in this world and Zoey says she doesn’t understand. That’s because you donated your brain to medical science, moron. She means you should recognize that you’re an author avatar and enjoy it.
Believe in yourself Zoey Redbird. I have Marked you as my own. You will be my first true U-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa v-hna-i Sv-no-yi…Daughter of Night…in this age. You are special. Accept that about yourself and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.
Wow, never have I seen a character fawn so hard over the author avatar. I mean, I thought the praise Eragon received was ridiculous. But this is something else entirely. If I were writing a parody, that’s exactly what I’d do. Have god show up and tell them they’re special and unique and there’ll never be anyone like them ever again.
The praise doesn’t stop there. Nyx says she’s her agent in the world and Zoey protests, weakly, by saying she can’t even parallel park. Nyx says she’s old beyond her years. Then she kisses Zoey on the forehead and she passes out to close the chapter. Nyx must use chloroform as mouthwash or something. It’s that or PCK can’t think of a better way to transition like every other hack.
So she’s going to be a demi-god vampire sorceress.
i’ve just written and deleted three large comments griping about this disturbing trend in modern lit. trying to grasp why these types of books are actually being published and selling well broke my brain.
I haven’t quite figured that out either. At best books like these should be guilty pleasures that a few people indulge in. So why they’re enjoying such popularity, I don’t know. And how the audience hasn’t tired of vampires is beyond me.
and hey, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in guilty pleasures now and then, Lord knows i have mine. But like you said, it’s the total fervor that i think grinds my gears. Publishers only publish what they think will sell, and apparently, they found a profitable formula.
As someone whose grandfather’s great-grandmother (or was it grandmother?) was Cherokee, I am deeply offended by all of this.
. . . Seriously, though, “ancient Cherokee magic”!?
I know what you mean. Where’s the ancient caucasian magic? What, are white not ancient or tribal because we already have power in the form of oppression?
that and dancing awkwardly:)
Perhaps caucasian magic = muskets.
Well, I guess you could count Celtic/Druidic practices as “ancient white people magic,” lol. I’m just guessing that modern Cherokees would not consider themselves (or their ancestors?) “doing magic” as much as healing, communing with the spirit world, etc. And maybe modern Celts would say the same. It just smacks of someone thinking “Oh, cool old-sounding stuff!” and tossing it in rather than trying to understand the actual culture.
It’s always made me wonder if there’s new (whatever tribal) magic? Maybe there are conflicting schools like orthodox and reformation magic and breakaway sects who insist that you can’t substitute pig for goat blood or something.
You should try reading The Handbook for Mortals sometime. The heroine of THAT particular book makes Zoey look downright humble in her “speshulness.” What makes it even worse is that the heroine is the author, right down to looking identical and having a similar name, so essentially the book is just full of the author wanking over how special and amazing she herself is.