My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Once upon a time, I gave this book a five-star rating. After doing a re-read this past week, I’m wondering why I ever gave it such a high rating. It definitely doesn’t deserve it. Maybe I was just so enamored by vampire novels at that point that I thought anything with a little fang or a little blood was awesome. Obviously, I was wrong.
As is typical with the young adult vampire novel, the heroine considers herself to be a freak and lives in some sort of broken home/recently remarried type situation. As is also typical, said heroine is having boy troubles. Apparently, vampire novel heroines are always having some kind of heartache/heart-break issue. Maybe it’s actually heartburn and they need some kind of acid reliever. Honestly, that would make more sense in a lot of cases within this genre.
I was intrigued that the story dealt with segregation. Once teenagers find out that they are vampyres, as they spell it in this book, they have to give up their old life and move into a special boarding school for other people who have been marked. I know that might sound a lot like Harry Potter, but instead of being just a tradition, this is something that seems to be legally required of newly marked. It is also apparent that this is different from the HP books in that the outside world knows about vampyres existing and they treat them as being lesser creatures because they are no longer human. (To be fair, the vampyres call humans ‘refrigerators’, so there really is no love lost.)
Zoey Redbird, this novel’s heroine and narrator, is a bit of a queen of exaggeration and immaturity. She says that she has limited math skills, but makes fun of her best friend’s worse one when the friend exaggerates a number. It makes Zoey seem very haughty. It was the kind of attitude that you might see someone display right before someone punched them in the face. And she really has no right to be so, since, like I said, she’s got some problems with immaturity. She uses words like “boobie” and “poopie” regularly. And she gets distracted whenever she thinks about those words. It’s very annoying. She’s also a hypocrite. She will ridicule someone else in one paragraph for a particular behavior and then turn around and do the exact same behavior just a few paragraphs later.
Zoey and her friends like to partake in the hobby of slut-shaming. There was honestly more slut-shaming in this book than I was ever exposed to in high school. It was very alarming to see two female writers propagating the idea that girls who have sex or who enjoy being sexual in any way deserve to be treated with less respect and with continued ridicule. What does that teach the readers of these novels to think about sex and sexuality?
Zoey also uses other ways of insulting people through slurs and stereotypes. Negative remarks that she makes about others often relate to the person’s sex life or their body shape and size. And do not get me started on how Damien is described. Zoey actually mentions something about not hearing a lisp. And the story goes out of the way to make him seem like he’s different from every other gay guy in the world. Instead of making the story seem more inclusive by having a gay character, it actually feels more like they’re being even more ignorant and anti-LGBTQ. She calls another character a “retard” and makes fun of friends of her stepfather as being “beady-eyed pedophile husbands”. Both of these things disgusted me. There is even racist wording used to describe a fellow student’s hair.
I know that Zoey cannot and shouldn’t be a perfect character. Flaws are what make characters great, but there’s a point when it becomes obvious that it’s more than just a flawed character–it’s a flawed book. The writing quality of the book is poor. Before Zoey goes to the House of Night, there’s a scene where her mother and stepfather are talking…and they seem to only talk in cliches. The mother actually makes a comment about “what will the neighbors say.” It was ridiculous. Throughout the book, it felt like the writers are trying really hard to be young and fresh. That was disconcerting to me because one of the authors is young enough that she shouldn’t have had to try very hard to sound young. And, as I think I’ve pointed out by now, the book is filled with ignorance and bigotry. Instead of being an interesting story, it just comes across as disgusting.