So there’s something I’ve been mulling over for sometime and it’s about the “specialness” of avatar characters. It’s one of those things that pops up constantly in bad fiction, where authors strive to differentiate them from the redshirts. And it always seems to culminate in the same thing. The authors continually attempt to drive home the point that their character is special.
So I thought there has to be a name for this beyond just being a Mary/Gary Sue/Stu. Because it’s not just that they’re better than everyone, it’s that they’re more unique. They’re always doing things that have never been done like being the first elemental priestess in over five hundred years and being blessed by the goddess herself. And they have a unique heritage of some kind and…you get the idea.
But there isn’t really a name for this particular habit of bad authors and I really think there needs to be. So from here on I’m dubbing Zoey the first diagnosee of the Unicus Complex. Having borrowed—hopefully badly—from Latin, because everything sounds better in Latin, I’m going to use this whenever any author displays bad behavior fitting of Unicus.
Returning to the book at hand, Zoey decides that she’s going to have to talk to Neferet. Gee, I would only imagine being as she’s both a teacher and your mentor, moron. The idea worries her but not because she’s worried that she’ll get in trouble for drinking the blood of a human. No, that’s the kind of thing reserved for the supporting cast not blessed by the greasy hands of the goddess. Instead she’s worried that Neferet won’t believe that she saw the ghost of Elizabeth.
This is something that I’ve seen across multiple series and it really bugs me. Like how Arya scoffed at the idea of gods in Eldest. We don’t know the lore of the character’s universe but we’re suspending out disbelief and allowing whatever random species/races/mythical creatures the authors says exist to do so. Having them mock or scoff at the idea of other fictional things. Which is just confusing to the audience because we’ve already accepted, for example, vampires so allowing ghosts isn’t much of a stretch.
I’m not saying that it’s an all or nothing prospect in fiction like this. Just because PCK writes about vampires that doesn’t mean that werewolves and gnomes have to exist. It’s just that they shouldn’t have their characters dismiss some other supernatural/mythical thing as a way of telling us they’re not part of their universe.
So Zoey decides to keep her mouth shut so the plot can advance and we can all be shocked that ghosts or revenants or whatever exist. Then the cat rubs Zoey’s legs and Stevie asks if it will follow her around all day. Zoey asks if the cat can and Stevie says that the cats can go anywhere they want. Which is why out breaks of Toxoplasmosis are common but you can’t argue with the cats.
Zoey goes down to breakfast and runs into Aphrodite who’s apparently flanked by Warlike and Terrible as usual. Wait, as usual? Stop trying to shoehorn in details this late in the game, ladies. So post-op Malfoy smiles at Zoey and says she’s sorry that Zoey had to leave and that the “dark daughters” isn’t for everyone. Zoey counters and says that she had a great time and that she’s planning on joining. Wow, this is like the West Wing with a high school cast who couldn’t get elected to the city council of a ghost town.
Aphrodite is visibly disappointed but says it’s great. Tomorrow is their Samhain celebration and Zoey should wear her new dress. Stevie can’t believe she’s joining them and Zoey tells her it’s not what she thinks. Whereas Aphrodite was willing to settle for having a reputation, Zoey plans on ruling the school through fear. By the time she’s done, the school will be dissolved as they form a vampiric military academy with their eye on world domination.
Or not. Zoey explains that she’s planning on watching them because Aphrodite gets away with too much. Oh and that Aphrodite can’t be what Nyx wants for a high priestess. Great, now Zoey is not only the chosen one but she’s also the vampiric version of the pope.
‘Nyx says she now demands that I get a Gulfstream 6 to fly about and spread her word.’ ‘Uh, Zoey, we couldn’t help but notice that all of Nyx’s latest demands benefit you directly.’ ‘Oh yeah? Like what?’ ‘Like the golden sedan chair which has to carried around by a hundred oiled body builders?’ ‘That’s just so we can impress the non believers.’ ‘And the endless chocolate fountain?’ ‘It’s a symbol of the generosity we offer our members.’ ‘Ok, and what about making Erik your personal mute slave?’ ‘Alright, you got me there.’
After a triple star story ellipsis, we flash forward to Neferet’s office. Apparently Zoey has an affinity for cats because she can sense Nala. It’s good to see the authors are feeding Zoey’s Unicus. The cat messes up Nefert’s desk but its okay because cats are always welcome.
Zoey has a moment where she misses her grandma then complains about her family. Did you know Zoey hates Stepdad? Gee, I had no idea PCK. Thanks for clarifying that lest I think they he was her bestest friend outside of her mom. Then Neferet tells us how she understands because her dad used her as a replacement for her mom until she became a vampire. Yeah, because that’s equivalent to a strict and fundamentalist stepparent.
Neferet says that as she ages the humans in her life will become less important. If she keeps going at her current rate, her family will be a distant memory by Tuesday. Zoey says she doesn’t want to forget her grandma and Neferet says that she can call grandma right then and just be late to class, she’ll write her a pass.
Then Zoey reveals the real reason she came in to talk to Neferet, because she drank blood. Oh, so PCK is going to reveal that Zoey has a strict moral code. Zoey’s going to tell Neferet that she accidentally drank from a human which is forbidden and accept the punishment due. Or she’s just going to complain about drinking fledgling blood mixed with wine. Neferet says that’s what they do and Zoey complains she didn’t know. Neferet says that wasn’t ethical but then Zoey says it tasted good.
This causes Neferet to offer to move her ahead to a different sociology class. Zoey says that’ll just make her feel more out of place. Neferet says okay but she has to take on reading for the advanced class on the side. Who knew turning into a vampire would require so much homework.
Zoey then tells Neferet what happened after the ritual. Which would be shocking if she didn’t tell us through conversation. She says she scratched him but didn’t feed off of him. Which, looking back, is technically correct but I think bewitching him is still something to note. Neferet says that Zoey probably didn’t imprint on Heath.
“It’s what often happens when vampyres drink directly from humans, especially if there is a bond that has been established between them prior to the blood-letting. This is why it is forbidden for fledglings to drink the blood of humans. Actually, it’s strongly discouraged for adult vampyres to feed from humans, too. There’s an entire sect of vampyres who consider it morally wrong and would like to make it illegal,” she said.
Zoey says it’s like something out of Dracula. This pisses Neferet off who complains about Stoker and how he was evil for vilifying vampires. Right, it’s because of bigotry that humans fear and dislike vampires. Not because they drink blood or dominate the arts or live forever or have a large assortment of powers.
Then Neferet asks Zoey to write down the names and addresses of Heath, Kayla and those Union football players. Zoey asks why and Neferet says she’ll focus on them and search for a trace of imprint just in case. Then she tells Zoey to run off to class because everything will be alright in about eight or nine chapters. Not that anything is going wrong for her but it’ll be even better.
when Zoey was telling Neferet about her step-dad, that would have been a perfect place for Neferet to say something like “you want bad? I was my dad’s sex toy**. still feel like whining?”. or just something to imply her home life wasn’t as bad as she thinks for no good reason and help Zoey *gasp* grow. i was totally expecting that, because i am a hopeless optimist.
**i think Neferet’s sexual abuse was only implied, but i have to assume she didn’t mean her father abused her by making her cook and do dishes and raising younger siblings after her mother’s death.
It’s true, it was just implied but a normal person, i.e. not Zoey, might have been forced to look at themselves. They might have gained a little perspective and thought ‘gee, my life really isn’t that bad.’
I have two theories about the existence of the Unicus Complex. First–it is seen as an ordinary part of the character of a Christ figure. Second–it is part of every person’s desire to be unique, special, and (sometimes) even “better” than those around them.
And speaking of better, everything *is* better in Latin! 😉 Pax vobiscum.
I guess the second theory’s pretty obvious.
well it’s true there’s always this desire to be a special snowflake, i think Unicus takes it a few steps farther–
the main character isn’t just a special snowflake, they are special despite their incessant whining to the contrary (“i don’t want to be unique/a freak/special!”) and moreover, SO special that they dominate effortlessly. No one has to study or train for more than a week and they certainly don’t fail. at anything. Gained a new power? Suddenly able to fly? these characters will never have a hard time taking off, navigating, and landing will only trouble them once or twice, but never in critical moments.
These authors tend to forget that even natural talents need to be worked at.
They also tend to forget that even really talented people work very hard, usually, at their talents. The best surgeons in the world do not stand alone in their field. Author’s that suffer from the Unicus complex tend to make their characters special in a way that no one else could ever be like being made into an elf instead of a human or the only priestess with an affinity for all elements or the only woman who’s ever been immune to mind reading. That way not only are they unique but there’s no chance anyone would ever come along and outdo them.
Also, I’d bet if you asked these authors to describe their characters, they would define them by their “unique” talents rather than by their personalities. Hell, the way PCK talks about Zoey it’s easier to say what her talents are rather than her appearance.
Saying classic authors of vampire fiction are full of crap and YOUR vampires are the TRUE ones. LKH Hamilton did this against Tolkien because her fae were so much better, Meyer just crapped right over vampire fiction in general, and of course we get gems like this where one of the eariest vampire novels is discredited and the author out right called EVIL 8D respect for the source material? What’s that? I think the only time I found this kind of thing passible was when Dracula turned out to have been written by the White Court in the Dresden Files as a ‘how to’ book for killing black Court vampires. It made sense in that universe.
By the way, anyone else miss vampires who could turn into bats, wolves, vanish into mist, summon rats at will and look beyond bloody 25 years old while actually being SCARY?! Notice how some of those things are a sexual turn off for teenager girls? ….BRING THE COOL POWERS BACK DAMMIT!
Oh man, I loved Stoker’s Dracula. It was such a wonderful antidote to Twilight.
But you know, as awesome as that book is, even Stoker put a more seductive spin on vampires. The mythology varies, but unless I’m very mistaken, before Stoker, people thought of vampires pretty much the way we think of zombies. All the weaknesses were there, garlic, holy water, stakes… but old-timey vampires weren’t even classy counts, they were basically walking corpses.
You know what the “vampires” in Marked remind me of? Elves, the way Terry Pratchett does them. Better than humans in practically every way, murderous to humans, and an entitlement complex the size of the multiverse. We’ve gone from garlic-allergic zombies to Pratchett elves. The mind boggles.
Oh Terry Pratchett, there needs to be more writers like him who are self aware and funny enough to make more ‘shut up elves’ moments.
It makes me wonder if one day we’ll see the same thing happen to zombies. That they’ll shift to a completely different kind of monster practically unrecognizable from the current trend.
And I don’t think Marked’s vampires are alone in being just like the elves from Lords and Ladies. That seems to be the standard character for vampires in bad fiction, just played straight.
How about ugly vampires? Or hell, even just vampires that look like an average person? Too many authors have this idea that vampires need to look pretty to lure in their prey but that really doesn’t make any sense when they’re faster or stronger than humans.