One of those things I hate, for there are so many, is the portrayal of “rich people”. Not because the wealthy need defending, they have people that do that for them, but because it’s always so dull. Big house, expensive car and fancy food. Because all people whole live above the median eat, drink and love the same things.
Take Aphrodite’s family, for example. The first paragraph is Zoey sitting around then rummaging through their kitchen. She doesn’t like what she sees because it’s all Perrier, smelly cheeses and meats wrapped in butcher paper. She calls this all rich people food and scoffs that there isn’t a single “brown pop” anywhere to be found. Because that’s what PCK has seen in movies and is convinced that “rich people” like.
The funny thing is that, because the mayor of Tulsa is a public figure, the salary is public knowledge. So I found a database showing all salaries for public employees and put in the current mayor, Dewey Bartlett. Accordingly, his gross is $105,000. That’s a nice chunk of change, to be certain, but not that rich. First you have the mortgage on the huge house then the new cars, clothes and the bills from the nursing home that Aphrodite’s grandma lives in. And all that has to sting more if Aphrodite’s mom is in the business of being a political wife.
So when Aphrodite says that they’ll give Stevie the password to the grocer’s account, Stevie can order whatever she wants and they’ll bill the bank directly, I laugh. She claims that her parents will never notice and Zoey says that Aphrodite is rich, which Aphrodite dismisses.
PCK missed a huge opportunity to build Aphrodite’s character. Let them have their large house that makes Zoey think of Italy, for whatever reason, and have the cupboards be bare or contain loads of cheap food. A deft hand could convey the symbolism through that one observation alone. Zoey looks into a beautiful, stainless steel fridge and finds a few leftovers and expired milk. That becomes a metaphor for Aphrodite’s family life. That they care so much about outward appearances that they go broke keeping them up.
Instead, Aphrodite is going to be flush with cash because Zoey needs to get money from somewhere and that application for McDonalds isn’t going to get filled out. Stevie them comes out of the bathroom looking like hell but Zoey says at least she’s clean. Aphrodite says she doesn’t smell which makes Zoey mad so they all yell at each other for a moment. What a mismatched trio, they are. Can they ever get past their differences and learn to work together?
In order to form a plan, Zoey decides to go over what they know already. This doesn’t take long as Zoey stopped paying attention in school back in third grade. The only thinkg she can remember is that her stepdad is evil and should be killed while her mother should be beaten until she sees the light.
The short version, Stevie changed into something and needs blood. They don’t know if vampires go crazy without it because that hasn’t been covered yet. It was far more important that they learn vampire crochet before basic survival tips. It like how in elementary school, they focus on pure academics and don’t discuss health and living until you’re about to graduate high school.
They determine that Stevie needs human blood and only human blood. Though that’s just what Aphrodite and Stevie say. I wouldn’t trust the word of someone who’s been using the local transient population as a faucet, but I’m not so gullible I’m looking at the ceiling. Zoey asks about being invited in and Stevie says she can make people do what she wants. Aphrodite says that Zoey shouldn’t be surprised and says that vampires can force people to do what they want and that’s why humans are nervous around them. Then she asks how hard was it for Zoey to mind control Heath?
Zoey ignores it because the Unicus is armored against such things like criticism. She asks if Aphrodite has ever heard of vampires having to be invited in and she says no. Stevie says that it’s because she’s souless. Zoey says that can’t be it and Stevie whine more about how her body was brought back to life but not her soul. Aphrodite agrees and then Stevie has to know how Aphrodite knew she’d burn up in the sun.
Aphrodite has to remind Stevie that she’s psychic and she syas she thought her powers were gone. Zoey says that’s just what Neferet wanted everyone to think because Aphrodite had a vision about her. She says that Nyx hasn’t abandoned her just like she hasn’t abandoned Stevie. Right, she just let Stevie wander around, killing people for a month to sort herself out. It’s the vampire form of a vision quest so, naturally, it has to suck.
“So why are you helping Zoey?” Stevie Rae shot the question at Aphrodite. “And don’t give me that crap about Nyx having a sense of humor. What’s the real reason?”
Ok, Stevie. It’s because the author has rammed her hand up Aphrodite’s ass and is working her like a muppet. They bicker a bit because PCK heard that’s how you do drama. There’s some arguing and Aphrodite says she should kill Stevie. Zoey says no and that Stevie’s not a monster. Stevie asks how she knows this and Zoey’s reply is about as nonsensical as you can get.
I didn’t hesitate, “Because I believe in our Goddess, and because I believe in the part of you that is still my best friend.”
You know, a lot of people believed the Titanic wouldn’t sink even as it was taking on water. You should probably consult with them on how it all worked out, Zoey. Then, because Zoey thinks she’s everyone’s mother, she tell them to apologize to each other. Stevie says she’s not sorry and then Zoey says that Nyx has given Aphrodite the power of earth so that by attacking Aphrodite, Stevie is attacking Nyx. Stevie’s reaction is a little more understandable.
“Nyx is letting her take my place!”
Zoey says no, that Nyx is letting Aphrodite help her out. Aphrodite says that this is Nyx’s way of letting her atone. If Aphrodite fails to convert to Zoey-ism, then she will be cast out forever and a pox will be upon her and her family. And every child born unto them shall be cursed to be the blonde villain in cheesy comedies and coming of age stores. From the book of Zoey, chapter Whine, verse six.
They go back to bickering and I have a feeling that’s what most of this book will be about. Catty remarks and arguing might make your reality TV more entertaining, PCK. It doesn’t make a book about vampires interesting. It’d be like rewriting Clash of the Titans so that Zues, Hera and all the other gods sit down and argue over a restaurant check. Unless it’s supposed to be a farce, it’s not going to be very good. Zoey finally says that whatever they do, they have to stand up to Neferet. Stevie asks why.
“Because she’s fucking evil!” I yelled.
So the death of a “friend” wasn’t worth cursing over but Neferet is? That says a lot about how much Zoey cares for her servants. This, of course, elicits much comment from the other two who are shocked that Zoey can curse. Stevie says that it didn’t even look right coming out of her mouth, because she’s just so pure and wonderful. Zoey then says that she thinks Stevie is partially right about her missing her soul and says that a part is missing. Stevie asks why she sounds so happy about it and Zoey says that’s how they’ll fix her and she’ll get her humanity back.
“Is this more of that what’s-inside-is-more-important-than-what’s-outside shit?” Aphrodite said.
Not quite, Aphrodite. It means that PCK watched Buffy and decided that arc with Angel was just too cool not to rip off. Though she doesn’t have the guts to make Stevie anything more than Stevie-who-drinks-a-bit-of-blood. Zoey complains that Aphrodite is too negative, she says their group needs a pessimist, Stevie says she’s not part of the group and Aphrodite calls her stinky.
“Enough!” I flung my hands out at both of them while I concentrated on the fact that both of them needed a good spanking. Wind obeyed me and they were knocked back in their seats as a small, concentrated gale surged around them. “Okay, stop now,” I said quickly. The wind instantly died. “Uh, sorry. Lost my temper.”
Nothing like a character who browbeats those underneath them into submission. Isn’t that usually the villain’s job? I’m sure that Nyx wouldn’t allow one of her followers to abuse their powers though. No, Zoey must be one of the good ones.
They decide to get some sleep and Aphrodite gives Stevie the rundown on the locals. Basically, Stevie won’t have to worry about being seen or run into anybody. PCK decided long ago that she’d gotten along fine in life without tension and there’s no need to start adding it in her books. She’ll leave that to those fancy schmancy authors who use words and character development.
Aphrodite says that the maid service only stops by when her grandma is visiting but they’ll be in the house every other day. She also warns that there are gardeners but they show up during the day. Stevie says that Aphrodite is rich, to really drive home the point, and then they leave. But PCK won’t leave us without a cliffhanger. Zoey’s parting line is that she didn’t have any idea of the horror she was “blundering blindly into”.