Burned Chapters 29 & 30

Chapter 2

Most of this book has been told from the perspective of third person. A realization I hadn’t made since starting up this nightmare and letting it tromp through my skull. Which is a very good thing. When the seams of the show begin to expose themselves, that’s when you know the illusionist is out of control.

The same thing goes for writing and film, in my not so humble opinion. When the audience is aware of the mechanics it ruins the suspension of disbelief. When a writer is so plainly bad at the basic mechanics, it makes everything that much more painful and obvious that you’re reading a book and potentially wasting time better spent letting mosquitoes feed off of you.

When PCK was focused on the other characters and delivering everything in third person, it was harder to see the issues with the writing itself. It does make characters stand out more though and their flaws are far more transparent. Knowing nothing about how the duo works, I’m going to pin the mild competence on the elder Cast with an asterisk that it may be due a ghost writer.

In case you couldn’t guess, that means we’re back in first person and with Zoey. The first paragraph of the chapter is refined agony that leaps out of the bushes and tackles you. It’s like driving down an old, cracked road that hasn’t been paved in a few decades only to drop off onto a dirt road littered with rocks that throw you up into the roof.

The shock I felt when Kalona materialized above Stark was terrible. The sight of him brought back everything that had happened in that last moment on that last day, before my world exploded in death and despair and guilt. Fully formed, his amber gaze met mine, and I was frozen by the sadness I saw there, and by the memory of how I’d looked into his eyes before and believed I’d glimpsed humanity, kindness, even love.

That paragraph right there is a microcosm of everything wrong with shitty first person narrators and the authors that use them. Zoey is telling us how the shock is terrible. Why, PCK? For the love of all written words ever committed to paper, why? If we’re in first person we’re inside Zoey’s head. We aren’t a stranger who she’s relating a tale to after the fact. Show us how she feels, aside from her gut threatening to ruin her pants, and let us experience Zoey. Or would that detract from her status as a shell for the audience to pilot?

Zoey watched the part where Kalona plucks a spear from nothingness and carves a hole in the ground with his wings. Then Zoey realizes that Stark is going to die because of her. Zoey says she can’t handle it and then looks down upon Stark and Kalona so someone can watch the fight.

Is that the real reason for the shift in perspective, PCK? Not because you wanted the younger one to put in some work but because you couldn’t inject emotion into a scene with a hypo the size of a bus? Otherwise Stark would have to spin and slash at a demigod without feeling a touch of the piss terror a human would though we’d be told how scared he was.

I realized then that it wasn’t just a hole in the ground. It was an arena. Kalona had created an arena with high walls, unbroken and slick. Walls that couldn’t be climbed.

Really? Does Entry of the Gladiators start playing as well? Why would he make an “arena”, anyway? Is he worried that Stark will flee somehow? Why does he care? It just seems like a waste of time and energy to lock in an opponent. Zoey then goes on to bemoan how it’s all over, Stark will die and it’s all her fault.

Kalona and Stark trade blows and dialogue while being as interesting as paint and half as fun to watch. While they’re trading stilted words, unencumbered by the fact that they’re doing the intense physical work of fighting, Stark inspires Zoey. She then realizes that even if she doesn’t consider herself a leader, of which I’ve never heard her voice more than token doubt, that everyone is counting on her so she has to come back.

Zoey walks back to the grove and asks her other selves to come back. She only summons joy, strength and Aya. Either Zoey never had mercy and compassion as part of her or she’s just glad to be rid of them. Then she goes back and her heart squeezes, that’s called a heartbeat moron, when she sees Stark on his knees in front of Kalona.

Zoey gets told to go back to the grove and leave the boys alone. She says she hates guys telling her what to do. She’s fine listening to women because she’s a sexist bitch. Kalona throws his spear at her, she uses her magic to try and stop it but says it’s too late and then Stark steps in front of it for her. I guess magic is slower to move than a teen with a broken foot leaping about. I can see why people abandoned it for technology.

Stark dies in the dream and Zoey says she doesn’t give into horror and pain like last time she watched someone die. She picks up the sword, traps Kalona and says she’s going to collect his debt. Kalona says she can’t make him and then Nyx says she can.

Well look at that, Nyx appears for Zoey for what, the fifth time thus far? And being as this novel has been light on Zoey she needs to make up for it a stroke Zoey’s ego so vigorously she’s going to need a cigarette afterwards.

“You’ve done well, daughter. You’ve made me proud of you again.”

For what? Getting sent to vampire heaven because of a broken heart? Letting Stark and everyone rally to try and fix your soul? Or was it because she threatened to torture an immortal knowing that he can suffer for eternity?

Zoey says she took too long and apologizes. Nyx says to think nothing of it and to ask herself for forgiveness, not Nyx. Kalona then asks if he can be forgiven and Nyx says not until he’s worthy of forgiveness. She tells him he’ll repay Zoey then leave because his body and now spirit are banned from her realm.

Nyx then kisses Stark’s body and vanishes. Kalona also kisses Stark, saying he’s giving him back his last breath and part of his immortality. Kalona then warns her that Nyx won’t come save her back on earth and flies off.

Chapter 30

Still with Zoey, Stark comes to and asks what happened. Well you didn’t miss much other than Zoey getting to meet your god once again. Zoey will have to redeem her punch card for the free coffee and sandwich for racking up so many visits with the holy one. Stark is busy coughing up blood and being glad that Zoey’s all right though she’s pretending to be worried about him.

Oh, Goddess! He’s hurt so badly! I tried to speak calmly. “Okay, good, but you don’t really look fine. So how about you and me get back to our bodies. They are both waiting for us, right?”

I like how she doesn’t feel anything about it. She just thinks that he’s hurt badly and very loudly at that. That’s the same reaction someone might have if they saw the ocean for the first time. ‘That’s a lot of water!’ Like she’s fascinated but not really invested in Stark’s injuries.

Zoey asks how they’re supposed to get back. Stark says he’s being kept there by a ritual but doesn’t know how to tell McVampy that he can stop now. Zoey says she can just follow spirit back to her body but Stark has no powers. Stark says he’s glad she has hers still because her “tattoos” all disappeared.

“Gone?” I turned my hand over and, sure enough, there were no tattoos filling my palms with sapphire filigree. Then I glanced down at my chest. The long pink scar was there, but it, too, was tattoo free. “Are they all gone? Even the ones on my face?”

That’s the same reaction Zoey gave to Stark’s gaping wound. I take it back, Zoey’s not an emotionless robot. She’s got the fastest cycling amnesiac and is just constantly surprised by everything. ‘Oh my god there’s food in front of me! I seem to be driving! I just ran over a hobo!’

Zoey then looks at his injuries and decides he needs energy so she tells him to bite her. Stark says that now’s the perfect time that his body is “all messed up”. Zoey says to not be “such a guy” and they lay next to each other. Zoey says that letting a guy drink your blood feels good and is sexual and how thinking about letting Heath do it prior is making her stomach hurt.

Stark tells her to relax and asks if she’s sure. Zoey says yes and he starts kissing and touching her. He drinks from her, finally, then he says he knew when he first belonged to her. Then Stark asks if he can be her “guardian” and says he’s not anything without a queen. Zoey hesitates but then accepts and Stark swears to her again which causes another ripple that she can feel which will never be explained.

They swap more blood and Zoey gets incredibly horny. She can also feel her magic “tattoos” coming back. I wonder if that feels like a rash. Each one is accompanied by her somehow knowing her friends are celebrating a victory of some sort. The last is spirit which allows her and Stark to be of one mind. It’s incredible, we’re told, and now they’re part of each other. Hopefully that means it’ll kill Zoey if I run over Stark.

Stark gasps in awe at Zoey’s “tattoos” and Zoey wonders how they’ll get home. Stark adopts a bad Irish accent, we’re told this of course. Sure a better author might write it out as a challenge to themselves and to distinguish the previous gibberish by McVampy from shitty Irish imitation but that would be hard. Stark says to just trust him and she’ll see why he’s auditioning for the voice of the Lucky Charms mascot real soon.

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