Hey guys! Welcome to my very first blog post, in which I read and review the first chapter of Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.
The reason I’ve decided to begin with Marked is that when I was in middle school (circa 2009), my friend group and I were obsessed with vampires. That was right after the last Twilight book had been published and the market was quickly becoming saturated with paranormal YA books. My friend Molly recommended these books to me, and I began reading the series around age 12. Recently, I was thinking about them, and about how some of the themes were pretty adult for me at the time, so I got the first book and began to reread it, eight years later. Here’s what I think.
We begin our journey in a high school hallway.
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.
Right off the bat, I have to give the authors credit. They managed not to begin the book by waking up from a dream sequence. Kudos to you, P.C. and Kristin.
Main Character and a girl named Kayla are talking about some party at which someone named Heath definitely didn’t get drunk after a football game. We also learn that the main character’s name is Zoey, and that she’s coming down with a really bad cough.
If I died, would it get me out of my geometry test tomorrow? One could only hope.
Kayla tells Zoey how many drinks Heath had (four-or-maybe-six beers and three shots), and proceeds to blame Zoey for the fact that Heath drank at all, because her parents made her come home early. What a quality friend.
“Plus, he was celebrating. I mean we beat Union!” K shook my shoulder and put her face close to mine. “Hello! Your boyfriend–“
“My almost-boyfriend,” I corrected her, trying my best not to cough on her.
“Whatever. Heath is our quarterback so of course he’s going to celebrate. It’s been like a million years since Broken Arrow beat Union.”
“Sixteen.” I’m crappy at math, but K’s math impairment makes me look like a genius.
Okay, everyone. We are less than a page in and we’ve already introduced this fun, modern trope that’s appearing in young adult novels: I’m really cool because I hate my best friend! And just remember, no one will know that the main character is smart unless she constantly comments on how stupid everyone else is!
Zoey goes on to say that she doesn’t want to be with Heath anymore because he’s drunk all the time (fair), but also he’s going to get fat from drinking all the time. It just ain’t a young adult novel without fatphobia!
“Eww! Heath, fat! Not a visual I want.”
I managed to ignore another urge to cough. “And kissing him is like sucking on alcohol-soaked feet.”
K scrunched up her face. “Okay, sick. Too bad he’s so hot.”
I rolled my eyes, not bothering to try to hide my annoyance at her typical shallowness.
Okay, Zoey? YOU STARTED IT. Why are you even friends with Kayla if you hate her so much? She’s been describing Kayla’s talking as “K-babble” all chapter so far.
Anyway, let’s return to the plot.
Then I saw him. The dead guy. Okay, I realized pretty quick that he wasn’t technically “dead.”
Good for you.
He was undead. Or un-human. Whatever. Scientists said one thing, people said another, but the end result was the same. There was no mistaking what he was and even if I hadn’t felt the power and darkness that radiated from him, there was no frickin’ way I could miss his Mark, the sapphire- blue crescent moon on his forehead and the additional tattooing of entwining knot work that framed his equally blue eyes. He was a vampyre, and worse. He was a Tracker.
Well, crap! He was standing by my locker.
She describes his voice as “dangerous and seductive, like blood mixed with melted chocolate,” which doesn’t sound seductive so much as like a major health hazard. He says some stilted thing about her being chosen by Night, and then he points at her and she passes out.
Zoey wakes up to a massive headache and Kayla crying about how she won’t have anyone to go to football games with once she becomes a vampyre. Zoey’s really glad that she came back to her locker because otherwise she would have been in front of the entire school when the Tracker came. Because it’s not like they’re going to figure out what happened when she turns into a vampyre.
She makes a snide comment about some kid with bad teeth, because Zoey can’t go a page without making fun of someone, and then she launches into a long internal monologue about not wanting to be “an Emo.”
“Zoey? Are you okay?” Kayla’s voice sounded too high, like someone was pinching her, and she’d taken another step away from me.
I sighed and felt my first sliver of anger. It wasn’t like I’d asked for this. K and I had been best friends since third grade, and now she was looking at me like I had turned into a monster.
“Kayla, it’s just me. The same me I was two seconds ago and two hours ago and two days ago.” I made a frustrated gesture toward my throbbing head. “This doesn’t change who I am!”
K’s eyes teared up again, but, thankfully, her cell phone started singing Madonna’s “Material Girl.” Automatically, she glanced at the caller ID. I could tell by her rabbit-in-the-headlights expression that it was her boyfriend, Jared.
Hey, girls, guys, and otherwise: if you can tell that someone’s significant other is calling them based on the terrified look on their face, GET THEM SOME HELP.
(No, really. There’s a free, 24/7 hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or click the link above to head over to their website.)
Kayla runs away to get a ride home from Jared and we get a little more information about what exactly is happening to Zoey:
The problem, of course, was that turning into a monster was the brighter of my two choices. Choice Number 1: I turn into a vampyre, which equals a monster in just about any human’s mind. Choice Number 2: My body rejects the Change and I die. Forever.
So the good news is that I wouldn’t have to take the geometry test tomorrow.
The bad news was that I’d have to move into the House of Night, a private boarding school in Tulsa’s Midtown, known by all my friends as the Vampyre Finishing School, where I would spend the next four years going through bizarre and unnameable physical changes, as well as a total and permanent life shake-up. And that’s only if the whole process didn’t kill me.
Okay. So now we have some info. Zoey has been Marked by a vampyre Tracker and now her body is starting the Change. You know it’s a Young Adult Novel because of all the random Capitalization of Nouns. If Zoey’s body rejects the Change, she’ll die. If it doesn’t, she’ll be enrolled in the House of Night (in Tulsa, Oklahoma, of all places). So there’s the basic plot setup.
So Zoey picks herself up off the floor and almost makes it to the parking lot, but then she sees Heath being surrounded by giggling girls and guys revving their pickup trucks. I’m confused, are the guys revving their trucks to impress the girls, or to impress Heath? I hope it’s Heath.
High-pitched girl giggles flitted to me from the parking lot. Great. Kathy Richter, the biggest ho in school, was pretending to smack Heath. Even from where I was standing it was obvious she thought hitting him was some kind of mating ritual. As usual, clueless Heath was just standing there grinning. Well, hell, my day just wasn’t going to get any better.
The girl hate so early in the book is super refreshing. I’m also not quite sure why this is ruining her day, because she expressly stated that she didn’t want to be with him, but now some “ho” is flirting with him, so therefore, she’s upset. Okay.
Zoey runs to the nearest bathroom in order to give us our timely character-looks-in-the-mirror-and-describes-herself trope, but not before describing the bathroom in more detail than was really necessary:
There were three stalls–yes, I double-checked each for feet. On one wall were two sinks, over which hung two medium-sized mirrors. Across from the sinks the opposite wall was covered with a huge mirror that had a ledge below it for holding brushes and makeup and whatnot. I put my purse and my geometry book on the ledge, took a deep breath, and in one motion lifted my head and brushed back my hair.
Whatever. It’s fine. Now that I have a good handle on what that generic high school bathroom looks like, I can finally get a description of Zoey.
It was like staring into the face of a familiar stranger. You know, that person you see in a crowd and swear you know, but you really don’t? Now she was me–the familiar stranger.
She had my eyes. They were the same hazel color that could never decide whether it wanted to be green or brown, but my eyes had never been that big and round. Or had they? She had my hair–long and straight and almost as dark as my grandma’s had been before hers had begun to turn silver. The stranger had my high cheekbones, long, strong nose, and wide mouth–more features from my grandma and her Cherokee ancestors. But my face had never been that pale. I’d always been olive-ish, much darker skinned than anyone else in my family. But maybe it wasn’t that my skin was suddenly so white…maybe it just looked pale in comparison to the dark blue outline of the crescent moon that was perfectly positioned in the middle of my forehead. Or maybe it was the horrid fluorescent lighting. I hoped it was the lighting.
Okay. So our MC is a person of color—that’s pretty cool. She described herself as olive-ish, which could be perceived as look at me I’m dark-skinned but not enough to be played by an actual POC in a movie of this book, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for now. She’s also doing the whole, I’m not beautiful, I just have all these beautiful features, thing, but that’s fine, as long as she’s not being gross or racist about it—
I stared at the exotic-looking tattoo. Mixed with my strong Cherokee features it seemed to brand me with a mark of wildness…as if I belonged to ancient times when the world was bigger…more barbaric.
–aaaaand there it is. I’ve got to say, this is the first book I’ve read in a while (if ever) where the main character exotifies herself. PC and Kristin Cast are white as milk, though, so I guess it doesn’t really surprise me.
Pro Tip: Don’t talk about marginalized cultures using terms like “wildness” and “barbaric.” Especially since Native Americans have a history of being branded as tribal or primal.
Zoey then makes a comment about how the blood of her grandmother’s people is singing deep inside her or something, and that’s the end of the chapter.
That’s it for this time. Thanks for reading along, everyone, and I really hope you enjoyed it! Tune in next time for chapter two.