Let’s talk about rules, shall we? Because it always comes up in genre fiction involving vampires, werewolves and such. Whenever the author decides there’s a “rule” that they don’t what their creatures to be bound by, they have a side character tell the protagonist that everything they know is wrong. And they treat this as a license to change the things they don’t like and scoff at all those “incorrect” movies and books.
The problem is not with changing things, that’s a practice we’re all rather used to and engage on our own. The problem is how they disparage the general rules that popular culture has accepted for that archetype. They then disparage all those authors and writers that have contributed to those ideas like vampires.
Basically, PCK is insulting everyone who wrote about vampires that differ from theirs. They’re saying ‘Your vampires are stupid! I managed to fix them so they’re cool though. You can thank me after the shock and awe wears off.’ Which is an extremely egotistical position to take.
The other problem is that it doesn’t make sense here. In this case, as vampires are “real” in this universe then there’s no reason for there to be that much false information. Especially considering that vampires are accepted and known enough that they’re most of the actors in movies and musicians and such. If the public had just learned about vampires a couple of years ago, then PCK could pretend there’s a lot of myths floating around about vampires. But really, when vampires are so common that they have a school for them in Oklahoma, there’s no excuse.
Sorry residents of Oklahoma, that’s not a knock on your home state. It’s just that based on the population, and assuming a consistent distribution of the vampire gene across the board, Missouri would get a vampire academy well before you as they have almost double the people. It could be worse though. PCK could have set it in Wyoming.
Being as PCK are a couple of completionists, they have us accompanying lady Ferret on her tour of the school. Zoey says they take their time that way Zoey can gawk and Neferet can point out all the little details. Weirdly, though PCK left not a scrap of Neferet’s appearance to the imagination, they are surprisingly closemouthed about the school. The closest thing PCK offers us is a casual mention that the buildings are clustered “castle-like” together. And that’s totally not aping Hogwart’s or anything because it’s full of vampires not magicians.
This is starting to feel like someone is attempting to cash in on all the popular fads. ‘Okay, so we’ve got vampires and a school like in Harry Potter. What else can we cram in here?’ ‘Cats.’ ‘Cats?’ ‘Yeah, haven’t you been online? The internet loves cats. Make ‘em talk and you’ve got a three movie deal.’
We also get a status report from Zoey. She’s feeling much better now and she’s not coughing. Which makes me wonder, is the whole getting sick if not taken to vampire high written into their genetic code or is it something else? Maybe vampires are repulsed by normal looking people and it takes years of training to be able to look at their faces without throwing up.
Neferet then shows Zoey to the girls dormitory. Zoey is surprised that the common room isn’t covered with lots of black and skulls. Of course not, Zoey. It’s decorated exactly like PCK would want their home to look if they could afford it. Which means antique chairs, overstuffed pillows and a few crystal chandeliers that use gas for lighting.
Alright PCK, let’s all sit down and talk. It’s learning hour and I’ll be your instructor. You can’t buy coal gas in this day and age, which was the kind used to light streets in cities of yesteryear, at least not from a utility company. The only kind of gas you get from them, at least in the States, is going to be natural gas which is methane. The funny thing about burning methane is that is generates carbon monoxide.
Now, can anyone tell me why that would be a bad thing? That’s right, carbon monoxide inhibits the ability of blood to carry fresh oxygen to cells and large enough doses can kill. The best part is that CO is invisible and odorless. Yes, they could install CO detectors everywhere but it would be just as easy to put in some goddamned electric lights. Especially as they aren’t living in the industrial age. Though I do admit it would be hilarious if one entire dorms worth of students was wiped out by a malfunctioning burner. At least the undertaker wouldn’t have to apply any rouge to the corpses.
Then Zoey sees purses and a flat screen TV and recognizes the sounds of “the Real World” coming from it. She’s noticing this while smiling and greeting everyone who have all gone completely silent as they stare at Zoey’s mark. I think they’re all thinking the same thing. ‘Oh look. Another Mary Sue. Just as long as I don’t have to be her friend.’
Then a blond girl who is surrounded by all the other girls greets Zoey. Zoey says she looks like a young Sarah Jessica Parker which is just mean, PCK. It’s also incredibly lazy. If you can’t muster the effort to describe a character, don’t bother. Just saying they look like a celebrity and calling it a day is counting on the reader’s familiarity with an outside figure. If they don’t know who they are then your audience if left with a big blank spot where that character’s face would be.
The blond girls introduces herself as Aphrodite. Zoey leaps from snotty to judgmental in the blink of an eye. It’s apparently conceited of her to have named herself after a Greek goddess. Which would be true in an adult but I expect that out of someone who isn’t old enough to drive. Being as they allow you to change your name when you join, I bet there are a lot of vampires named Raven or Darkside and anything else which sounds cool when you’re under the influence of puberty.
That a character would do something that aligns with reality must be an accident on PCK’s part. As she calls herself Aphrodite she must be egotistical and, therefore, an antagonist. Though Aphrodite offers to show Zoey around. For some reason, offering to be helpful makes Neferet lock eyes with her. When they break contact Zoey thinks she sees a flash of something in Aprhodite’s eyes though she laughs pleasantly when Neferet agrees. That’s when Zoey recognizes Aphrodite as the girl giving the rapey blowjob in the hallway.
Aphrodite’s laugh, followed by her perky, “Of course I’d be happy to show her around! You know I’m always glad to help you, Neferet,” was as fake and cold as Pamela Anderson’s humongously huge boobs, but Neferet just nodded in response and then turned to face me.
Well that was an awkward simile. Are you just trying to tell the kids that you’re cool and hip, PCK? Yo, I’m street, I’m down with the young peoples and their Facebook. Or are you just taking swipes at women who’ve undergone breast augmentation? And why say her breasts are fake and cold? Is she an ice golem now?
Confusion aside, Neferet tells Zoey she’ll be okay and even calls her by the same nickname her grandma did. It’s Zoeybird, in case you care. Then Aphrodite tells her to come along, the rooms are this way. They go upstairs and Zoey comments that everything is very nice. PCk uses this opportunity to drive home Aphrodite’s ego.
“It’s amazing here mostly because of me.”
Yup, she really is supposed to be that bigheaded. On the upside, at least we’ve met the antagonist of the story. Sure she’s not much worse than Zoey—Zoey’s ego is that she’s smarter than everyone rather than prettier but vanity comes in many flavors—but at least she shows up before the end of the book. I can at least respect PCK for introducing her when other hacks like Meyer or Paolini wait until the last minute.
Zoey thinks she must be joking and gives her a look. Aphrodite says she’s not joking and that Zoey heard her correctly. She says this place is cool because she is and Zoey doesn’t know how to react. Zoey says she doesn’t want to fight with the slut with the inflated sense of self importance. They come to a door and Aphrodite turns around and starts insulting Zoey.
And just like Chris, PCK makes me like the villain more than the hero. Aphrodite is upset that everyone is talking about Zoey and her unusual mark and wondering what it means and if Zoey has special powers and blah blah blah. Which has already annoyed the hell out of me too so I’m on her side. She tells Zoey it’s her way or the highway and Zoey says she’s not here for trouble. Then Zoey worries that she’ll have to fight her and she can’t have that because Zoey’s never been in a fight in her life.
Aphrodite goes back to looking sweet but Zoey isn’t fooled. Of course not, she’s too smart for that. Not even the most skilled con artist could ever pull one over on her, Zoey’s too sharp for that. Nor would she ever let her ego get in the way unlike Aphrodite. It must be hard being so perfect though, especially when everyone else is so jealous.
The girl in the room is Stevie Rae Johnson—and I’m only typing that twice, PCK—and she says y’all and has an “Okie accent”. Which seems odd considering they’re in Oklahoma. Commenting on the accent of the locals is like saying that you breathe air. And shouldn’t Zoey have the same accent or is she too smart to say y’all? Aphrodite makes fun of Stevie’s accent and leaves, Stevie calls Aphrodite a bitch and then Zoey says she needs “pharmaceutical help”. We’re supposed to find that funny because Stevie laughs. And here I thought books didn’t come with a laugh track. I learn something new everyday.
Let’s see, Stevie is a country girl cliché owning a couple of cowboy hats and a Kenney Chesney poster. She also has an “old-fashioned-looking gas lamp with the base shaped like a cowboy boot” which means Stevie is a “total Okie”. Stevie gives her a hug and tells her she’s glad Zoey is feeling better and she was so worried when she heard something happened.
‘Stevie Rae Johnson?’ ‘Yes?’ ‘For your transgressions against vampire law, we have chosen you to be the Sue’s designated best friend.’ ‘No! Please! There must have been some mistake!’ ‘From here on you are a secondary character and you must always fawn over and flatter Zoey.’ ‘Can’t we talk about this?! I’ll do anything, anything! I’ll juggle firey chainsaws by the blades, I’ll give hugs to porcupine colonies!’ ‘If you fail to comply with this sentence you will have to betray Zoey and then redeem yourself through death. Judgment is final. Take her away, vampire bailiff.’ ‘Nooooo!’
Zoey then notices that her side of the room has all of her stuff from home. Everything from her books—Gossip Girl and Bram Stoker’s Dracula—to her Monsters Inc figurines. Gee, it must be so hard to live in a strange place, in new surrounding when they put everything you own in your room for you. Personally, I would rather see how Zoey reacts to an empty room. Then we might see what aspects of her old life she’d actually miss.
Grandma went and got Zoey’s stuff and Stevie says she’s very nice. Zoey says her grandma is more than nice, she’s brave for facing Stepdad. It’s really not hard to face a guy who doesn’t even curse at you when he’s mad. Hell, he doesn’t even spout bible quotes like a crazed religious nut.
Stevie comments about her family, which isn’t important, and says she likes the classes. We also learn that they have school uniforms but they can customize them so it’s not so bad. ‘Hey Ethe?’ ‘Yes Ted?’ ‘How about we make the kids wear a uniform?’ ‘Not a bad idea. It’ll help prevent animosity between them as no one can be considered out of style.’ ‘Right, except I don’t want to make them all wear the same thing. We’d let them customize it however they feel.’ ‘Then why not let them wear whatever? That’s what they’ll do anyway.’ ‘Because then we can claim we’re better than a public school.’
There’s lots of details being dumped on us here. They can leave but there are rules like no wearing the school uniform off campus. The sign for their year is a maze because it represents the path of night and blah blah blah. Neferet teaches vampire sociology 101 and hardly ever takes on new students so her mentoring Zoey is extremely special.
PCK also take the moment to swipe at Abercrombie when they tell us how Stevie is dressed. She’s wearing tight jeans with no back pockets, cowboy boots and a blouse that looks like “you’d find at Saks or Neiman Marcus, versus the cheaper see-through shirts that overpriced Abercrombie tries to make us believe aren’t slutty.” Because fashion companies don’t sell what their customers want, they sell things to turn people into sluts. I wouldn’t mind that comment if it were Zoey’s opinion but it’s pretty clear that’s how PCK feels.
Zoey puts on a blouse that has her class symbol on it and looks at herself in the mirror and decides she looks better. Then she starts worrying about dinner and whether it will be blood and that might make her vomit. Which means it will be hilarious when we find out they still eat regular food, right?
let me guess, the uniforms consist of a long skirt that all the girls crop into a mini and hooded cloaks?
So far the uniforms are whatever PCK wants to dress their avatar in. I guess I should be thankful that, so far, hooded cloaks haven’t made an appearance.
oh god, this is so after school special it’s painful. Let’s see, we have the smart main character who is a jem in the rock or whatever that saying is, we have the blonde popular mean girl who is shown to be as 2D as a cardboard cut out and will probably suffer some horrid fate for her bitchy teeness (though we’re ot supposed to feel sorry for her in anyway if that does happen), and we have the quirky female friend who will no doubt be there to make the main character look better. Next I see the love interest liking Zoey for her ‘smarts’ over blonde chicks beauty. (when in reality he probably likes her because shes not dominating or trying to rape him) You know what I would love? A female writer who is self aware enough to write characters who are not going to see the world like something off hallmark. How about a story where the blonde popular girl is the main character who finds she’s been marked? And the anti-social bratty girl who thinks she’s smarter than everyone else is the bad guy? It would fit harder if a character who thought they had it all has a reality check from their teen middle class life style by suddenly losing it all, and being shipped off to vampire high without all her comforts. Her boyfriend dumps her, all her shallow friends abandon her and her family kicks her out as if she’s just come out the closet. (as you said before, stting it in the 70’s would help in that metaphor) But no, teenage angsty girl fantasy flapping ahoy! Boo to those popular girls who make your school life hell.
I think you’re right about the character. If she started out as a bratty, well to do girl who was popular and fell from grace she’d be more likable. Plus it would be really easy to develop her from there and it’d be a wide opportunity for growth. Otherwise it’s more of escapist fantasy for angsty teens which is better served by fanfiction.
“For your transgressions against vampire law, we have chosen you to be the Sue’s designated best friend”
LOL. So Kayla’s term as the best friend is over, I suppose? Normally you’d think being dumped by your best friend with no warning when she moves to a whole different school, but Kayla is clearly relieved to be out of this horrible story.
You’d also think Zoey would be botherd more about leaving her best friend behind. But I guess between friendships and vampirism, vampirism wins.
a friend of mine gave me a bag of book a while back and i never looked in it until i was cleaning the other day. i found this book and another of the House of Night series, so i’ll be reading along:)
I can give PCK at least a little amount of credit in that the dialogue is more believable than Smeyer’s. it’s still rather grating, I can’t say i prefer Zoey’s OMG KEWL to Bella’s purple flowery nonsense, but at least i’d expect it to come from a charicature of a 1990’s teen.
I’m starting to wonder whether PCK gets paid every time she name-drops something. Either that, or she’s trying to cram in as many trademarks as she can before someone sues her.