One of the things I’ve always found particularly lame is when authors try to work in an allegory for racism or bigotry into fantasy or science fiction. The good ones can do it but a good author can do just about anything. That’s because they’ve got skill and hacks don’t but they will do their damndest to imitate the good ones because they have a “message” damn it. They’re not content to be a mid to low grade genre fiction writers, no sirree. They’ve got all kinds of message to get up in your face and no lack of talent is going to stop them.
At first, PCK told us that people hate vampires because they do, shut up. So we went along with it because that wasn’t the focus. But as the conflict between them has become the thrust of the series, it’s coming under more of my scrutiny. For the long time readers among you, you know that my scrutiny is the last thing an author wants.
Let’s go over our “heroes” or “underdogs” that are being discriminated against. These are vampires who are, to reiterate, strong, fast, immune to disease, all of whom can read most minds and have varying assortments of other powers. These are pitted against humans who are all weaker, slower, can’t read minds and have zero powers among them.
Oh, but the humans have numbers, PCK will say. Right, and so do the vampires. Not only do vampires have a sizable population but they also have “warriors” who are vampire soldiers. These guys are loyal only to vampires and take orders only from the high priestesses. So they’re a religious order who only obeys the church, like crusaders but with more blood drinking. If a single vampire ever ran into an angry mob, all they’d have to do is run, remember they’re faster, to their vampire friends and form an angry vampire mob.
In real life, being cornered by one person is a scary thing because we’re all fragile and one angry bastard can kill us. More than one is worse because the odds aren’t in your favor. It falls apart when the supposed underdog can hurl a safe or out run a sports car or even just disappear by using magic.
Zoey asks if Aphro hasn’t tried to “invoke” earth since she lost her pony mark. Aprho shakes her head and looks like “her stomach hurt”. It’s kind of odd how certain things begin to stand out over the course of a series. Paolini, for example, loves metaphors and similes relating to minerals and geology. PCK loves to compare emotions with physical sensations somewhere in the chest. If it doesn’t make you physically ill, it’s not a real emotion.
So Zoey does her element summoning and like every goddamned book in the series we have to sit through it all. ‘Blur blah bloo, water’s wet and so are you. Et cetera, et cetera.’ When Zoey gets to earth, Aphro yelps and drops the candle and begins whining about how she knew it, she lost earth and Nyx has abandoned her. Zoey says she doesn’t believe that Nyx took it away because Aphro isn’t worthy. Zoey says she doesn’t believe it and will show Aphro which she doesn by summoning all the elements by herself.
Holding tightly to the power that always came to me when I evoked the elements, I raised my arms over my head. I tilted my head up, seeing not the ceiling over me, but imagining through it to the velvet darkness of the all-encompassing night sky. And I prayed—not the way my mom and her husband, the step-loser, pray, all filled with fake humbleness and with lots of decorative amens and whatnot. I didn’t change who I was when I prayed. I talked to my Goddess just like I would talk to my grandma or my best friend.
Take that, Zoey’s parents. She’s not going to pray with fake humility. Zoey’s ego will not allow that in the slightest. So Zoey talks to Nyx and asks her to show Aphro that she still cares about her. This makes a woman appear—need I say she’s beautiful?—before them. PCK doesn’t want to describe her so Zoey makes up some crap about not remembering the details except that she look like “a spirit suddenly made visible”.
Nyx says that Zoey was right to summon her. I guess she hasn’t got much going on, being a goddess and all, so she can afford to show up when some random idiot asks her to. So why doesn’t Zoey summon Nyx in front of everybody and have her denounce Neferet? What was that PCK? Because the series would be over before it started?
Aphro throws herself at Nyx and grovels while saying she’s so sorry for doing all those non specific bad things. Nyx forgives her of course, saying that she didn’t take Aphro’s mark away but that it was burned away by her humanity. Right, makes sense to me. Then she tells her that the earth power was only being borrowed until Stevie got her humanity back so it went back to her.
Aphro has to keep asking if Nyx is mad at her and hates her, Nyx says no. Then Aphro cries because she’s so happy and Nyx tells Zoey that there’s great danger ahead. Zoey says she knows and that Nyx can’t want the war that Neferet is trying to start. Nyx says no but that’s not the danger she’s talking about. Zoey then asks why Nyx doesn’t just appear and stop the whole thing right now. Nyx asks if Zoey knows what her greatest gift to her “children” is.
Aphrodite’s voice sounded strong and clear: “Free will.”
Nyx says, of course it’s free will. She says that the gift becomes the person and if she stepped in and took it away it would destroy them. So how is that any different from what she did to Aphro? And how exactly does Nyx allow free will? She made Aphro stand in for Stevie, it wasn’t a choice. Just like she doesn’t allow the kids to stay away from other vampires or choose not to become them. ‘You have free will. I totally allow you to wear whatever clothes you want while serving me.’ Zoey says that Neferet’s supposed to listen to her.
“It grieves me, but Neferet has chosen to no longer hear me. This is the danger of which I wish to warn you. Neferet has her mind tuned to another voice, one that has been whispering to her for a very long time. I hoped her love for me would drown out the other, but it has not. Zoey, Aphrodite is clever about many things. When she said that power changes, she was right. Power always changes the bearer of it and those who are closest to her, though people who believe it always corrupts think too simplistically.”
Great, now we have a vampire satan. I like how Nyx tries to say that power doesn’t always corrupt while talking to a snotty teen who killed two people because she was angry. Nyx starts to fade because PCK doesn’t want to give away the entire plot. Zoey asks her not to go because she has so many questions and Nyx says that life will reveal choices and blah blah blah. Basically all Zoey has to do is show up and whatever she does will turn out for the best. Zoey says that it would be easier if Neferet told her what to do and Nyx says that Zoey must find her own path. Also, she warns not to doubt Neferet’s power because, once given never taken away. You know, unless the author’s feeling lazy.
And why do al of her followers have to find their own path? Doesn’t that mean that Zoey shouldn’t be able to ask Nyx for advice? Maybe Nyx just doesn’t want to say anything in front of Aphro in case she gets the idea that she can ask for help and advice. That’s a privilege reserved for Zoey alone.
Nyx tells them that, when it comes down to it, they must choose between chaos and love. I can’t say I’ve ever thought of those two as mutually exclusive. At the very least I don’t see them as being opposite elements like fire and ice, earth and water or electricity and stupid people. Aphro says that they seem like the same thing and Nyx’s parting words are that they’re both alluring but that they’re as different as sunlight and moonlight. So love is the reflected form of chaos then? Nyx then disappears in a flash of light because every god loves to make an exit.