We’re Kind Of Almost Done With This Book And Nothing Has Happened Yet: Marked Chapter 20

Posted on January 31, 2014 by

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Yeah, yeah, I’m working on that Proud Supporter of Blow Jobs mug, I promise.

It's a work in progress and I am hardly a professional.

It’s a work in progress and I am hardly a professional.

Chapter 20

Hopefully you liked the last chapter where Zoey just told someone else what happened in the chapter before that, because she’s going to do it again in this chapter. Except with even less information.

I was going to have a talk with Neferet. […] I didn’t want to tell her anything about my supposed strange reaction to the elements. […] I also didn’t want to say anything to her about thinking I might have seen Elizabeth’s ghost.

So, basically, it’s the same thing as what happened in the chapter before it, which was also just what happened in the chapter before it, except less.

It's like this gif Ariel found, except it works for the entire plot.

It’s like this gif Ariel found, except it works for entire chapters.

So not only is this the third time we’re getting an entire account of the Dark Daughters ritual and incident with Heath (narrated by Zoey, which is another problem entirely), but guess how far we are into this book? By the end of this chapter, we’ll be 70% of the way through this book. I know, right? I was genuinely shocked when I saw that. What the fuck has happened?! I thought we were still in the first act setting up the conflict, because what is the conflict??? [Ariel says: Zoey has to destroy the plastics the Dark Daughters? Zoey needs to poop? I don’t know anymore.] Keep that in mind as we read this chapter, where Zoey and Neferet talk about what’s going on (read: “the plot”), and see if we can try to figure out what this story’s plot is supposed to be.

Although first Zoey and Stevie Rae run into Aphrodite and the assorted Lord Hitlerfaces. What follows is, like, extra strength concentrated high school bitchiness.

“Hi, Zoey. Gosh, you left in such a hurry last night I didn’t get a chance to say bye. Sorry you didn’t have a good time. It’s too bad, but the Dark Daughters isn’t for everyone.” […]”Actually, I had a great time last night, and I absolutely love the dress you gave me!” I gushed. “Thank you for inviting me to join the Dark Daughters. I accept. Totally.”

It keeps going on like this. God, this is so fucking high school, I’d feel insecure about myself right now if this was better written. Read: less artificially valley girl, which is actually really hard to do, given how valley girl is already artificial-sounding, so this is just a whole other level of awful writing. Speaking of awful writing, I’m gonna pull this one bit from the dialogue because it stands out as just extra stiff.

“Yes, I bet Neferet will be glad to hear you’ve joined us, but I am the leader of the Dark Daughters and I know our schedule by heart, so there’s no need to bother her with silly questions.”

Aren’t you worried about termites? Because that dialogue is wooden.

I'm so sorry I keep doing this this week I don't know what's wrong with me

I’m so sorry I keep doing this this week I don’t know what’s wrong with me

Stevie Rae is all “WHAT YOU’RE JOINING THEM I AM HURT” and Zoey is all “Relax I am just pretending to like them so I can spy on them because they are my enemies!”

“Have you never heard of the old saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? […] Aphrodite gets away with too much crap. She’s mean. She’s selfish. She can’t be what Nyx wants for a High Priestess.”
Stevie Rae’s eyes got huge. “You’re going to stop her?”
“Well, I’m gonna try.” And as I spoke I felt the sapphire crescent moon on my forehead tingle.

God, Zoey, high school isn’t that important. [Ariel says: Also, you are still not Harry freaking Potter, Zoey, no matter how much you try to be!]

Ariel used that already, but, jeez, it’s so relevant for this book.

Anyway, now Zoey meets with Neferet and gives us our second consecutive summary of what happened two chapters ago.

“Thanks for the cat things you got for Nala,” I said. […]
“Tell me, Zoey, do you ever hear [Nala’s] voice inside your head, or know exactly where she is, even when she’s not in the same room as you?”
I blinked. Neferet thought I might have an affinity for cats!

Yes, in the roughly twelve hours Zoey has had this cat, most of which were spent sleeping, all of these things have happened. Although I can’t really blame Neferet for sounding so desperate. If my students had vampyre powers like “sees the future” and I had “talks to cats”, I’d be pissed. [Ariel says: She just really needs to not be the only one who got the shaft in terms of vampyre powers. Rivaled only by the guy who has the power to identify exactly who farted even in an extremely crowded room.]

Neferet asks Zoey if she misses her old home, and Zoey confesses that she really doesn’t, just her grandma, because her home life has been so miserable ever since her mom remarried. Neferet, naturally, responds with a terrifying tale of sexual abuse.

“My mother died when I was ten years old. My father did not remarry. Instead, he began to use me as his wife.”

And like every other attempt at including a serious topic in this book, the Casts clumsily and painfully mishandle it with their awful writing.

“From the time I was ten until Nyx saved me by Marking me when I was fifteen, he abused me. […] So you see, when I say that I understand what it is to have your home become an unbearable place I am not just spouting platitudes.”

In an awful way, I like to interpret this as, "Yeah, complain about your stepdad John Heffer and his boring name now, Zoey. I dare you."

In an awful way, I like to interpret this scene as, “Yeah, complain about your stepdad John Heffer and his boring name now, Zoey. I fucking dare you.”

That’s the entire account of Neferet’s story, and as far as serious topics in House of Night go… I think this one was almost handled okay? It’s easy to criticize sexual abuse and female characters in literature, like “yes, because nothing worse can happen to a woman than sexual abuse” (I’m looking at you, Bared To You), but in comparison Neferet’s tale seems more stoic and less heavy-handed? At the very least, her short account makes it look like she doesn’t let it define her, but in a way can use it to help others? I don’t want to weigh in on this too much because I’m trying to check my privilege, and I still don’t think this was even remotely a necessary detail to add to the story, but it wasn’t done terribly? [Ariel says: I agree, for once I didn’t find a delicate scene incredibly offensive. However, I did find it incredibly random and out of place. This book seriously doesn’t understand it’s demographics or tone.]

They talk about Zoey missing her grandma a little more before Zoey brings up why she’s there in the first place – the Dark Daughters ritual and being tricked into drinking the blood.

So there’s that. Neferet also infers that there’s something else Zoey should be telling her about last night. No, it’s not about Elizabeth’s ghost, which might have gotten some actual plot going. No, it’s not about Erik Night, which might have gotten some juicy gossip going. It’s about fucking Heath and Kayla again.

“It was my ex-best friend and my almost-ex-boyfriend.”
Neferet raised her brow at me again.

Man, even Neferet doesn’t care about this subplot, and this is a character whose only interesting thing in her life is talking to cats.

Neferet hears the story (the same one we’ve now heard, say it with me, three times) and concludes that Zoey probably didn’t Imprint with Heath. Zoey asks what this is, even though I swear Erik explained this exact thing to her one of the other two times we had to hear about this fucking scene. So, yeah, we learn nothing new. Again. Why is this happening.

Neferet gives Zoey a textbook to a more advanced vampyre sociology course. This is obviously not a detail so important I particularly need to include it in my chapter summary, but nothing else is happening in this book. We are 70% finished with this novel and I have no idea what the plot is supposed to be. Seriously. Here is everything going on in this book that can be considered “conflict”, or is otherwise something unresolved:

  • Zoey has a prematurely filled-in Mark because she was specially chosen by the Goddess Nyx for an as-of-yet unknown greater purpose
  • Zoey’s non-vampyre family and friends don’t want her to be a vampyre
  • Aphrodite is a jerk and must be stopped
  • Elizabeth is maybe a ghost
  • Erik Night and Zoey are not yet a couple

I honestly can’t think of anything else, and none of these are really significant or structured enough by this point to feel like “the conflict”. Ghost Elizabeth has shown up once for maybe half a page and we’re already 70% through the book, so that would be unsatisfying to suddenly pour all the novel’s focus into that. There’s no point revisiting Zoey’s not-vampyre family because they’re fairly ineffectual by this point. Erik is strictly a romantic subplot. The special Mark and special purpose thing is probably the closest thing to a real conflict in this book, except it’s unlikely that will be fully resolved in the first book of this series. The war on Aphrodite might offer us the closest thing that would resemble a narrative arc, except I seriously doubt it, and I bet what’s going to happen is that some big Thing will suddenly happen about five chapters from the end (like her Grandma being in danger or something) and Zoey has to go fix it. It will be tacked on to add an artificial sense of conflict and resolution, because – much like Zoey and her feelings about blow jobs – this story will never offer any climax.

Yes, I do make money writing these jokes.

Yes, I do make money writing these jokes.

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