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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast


TITLE: Marked
SERIES: House of Night, Book #1
AUTHOR: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin
PUBLICATION DATE: September 29, 2009 (first published 2007)
FORMAT: Hardcover, 306 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Fantasy/Paranormal
ISBN: 9780312360252
Enter the dark, magical world of the House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed.

One minute, sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird is a normal teenager dealing with everyday high school stress: her cute boyfriend Heath, the school’s star quarterback who suddenly seems more interested in partying than playing ball; her nosy frenemy Kayla, who’s way too concerned with how things are going with Heath; her uber-tough geometry test tomorrow.  The next, she’s Marked as a fledgling vampyre, forcing her to leave her ordinary life behind and join the House of Night, a boarding school where she will train to become an adult vampyre.  That is, if she makes it through the Change—and not all of those who are Marked do.  It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling.  She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint with Heath, who just doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer.  To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers: when she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny—with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

MY REVIEW:

The House of Night series has been on my TBR list for a long time! The series was actually banned in 2009 for "sexual content and nudity." Interestingly, the series hadn't even been completed at that point so it is quite ridiculous for all future novels in the series to be banned when they have no idea whether there is any objectionable content! By contrast, this book won the 2007 Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers' Choice Award for Young Adult.

The story takes place in an alternate universe where vampyres (that is how it is spelled in the book) share the world with humans although they live separately (at least they do in this novel). 

In certain people, a physiological reaction takes place that triggers a part of their DNA that will eventually result in the person becoming a vampyre. It is thought that this takes place during adolescence, due to the increase in hormones during puberty. Such an individual will be destined to become "marked." A certain type of vampyre called a Tracker will place a crescent moon mark on the forehead of a person who has been chosen to become a vampyre. The mark is like a tattoo, but it is an outline only. Once a person receives that mark, they say good-bye to their old life and move to the House of Night which is a private boarding school in Tulsa's Midtown where they will live for the next four years learning all about the history of vampyres and what they can expect in the future. A marked person, or fledgling, has a very limited amount of time to come to the House of Night. They feel as though they are dying, which is true because their body is changing. Not everyone will survive the Change to become a full-fledged vampyre. The mark on the forehead becomes filled in once the Change is complete. Someone who has had special gifts bestowed upon them by Nyx, the Vampyre Goddess that they worship, is destined to become a High Priestess. Those chosen ones will also develop additional embellishments upon their body to set them apart from regular vamps. In Greek mythology, Nyx is the Goddess of the Night.

Zoey Redbird is a 16 year-old teenager from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma who feels as though she doesn’t belong. Her dad left when she was just two years old, and her mom remarried when she was 13 years old. Zoey’s new step-father, John, is a bit of a religious fanatic. He feels that Zoey is a problem child and, since they married, Zoey feels that her mother isn’t really on her side anymore. Zoey feels that if her mom and John only knew what her siblings were up to that they wouldn't think she was the black sheep. She refuses to hide who she is and, for that reason, she gets into trouble. When Zoey becomes marked, she turns to her Grandmother Redbird who is the only one she feels will understand. Her grandmother is a Cherokee, and she has taught Zoey some of the old ways. While trying to find her grandmother in the lavender fields around her home, Zoey falls and hits her head and has a spiritual experience where she meets Nyx who tells her that she is something special because of her mix of Cherokee ancestry and vampyre destiny. She kisses the mark upon Zoey’s forehead and, when Zoey awakens, she finds out that her grandmother has brought her to the House of Night. Her mentor is a High Priestess named Neferet. Zoey stands out as different than other fledglings because her mark has filled in ever since her spiritual meeting with Nyx. She instinctively knows that she is not to reveal to anyone what has occurred.

Right off the hop, Zoey gets off on the wrong foot with Aphrodite, who is the "Queen Bee" of the fledglings. She runs a special clique called the Dark Daughters, and she thinks she is destined to become a High Priestess. Aphrodite tries to bully Zoey around, but Zoey stands up to her which earns her the respect of her small circle of peers. Aphrodite is jealous of all the attention that Zoey is receiving because of her mark and what she believes is preferential treatment from Neferet. 

I really like the alternate world that the Casts have created. Just as wizards must go to Hogwarts to receive training, the vamps must go to the House of Night. I like that Zoey is a strong-willed girl who doesn't let anyone push her around. Even when she is afraid, she demonstrates a lot of courage. The clash between Aphrodite and Zoey is typical high-school behaviour, along with the bullying and cliques. I felt as though I was right back in high school! However, because of the sexual situations in the book, I would recommend this for the upper end of the Young Adult range. Zoey's lack of parental support really saddened me, and I felt sorry for her. It was nice to see Zoey's strong bond with her grandmother, which is absent for so many kids nowadays, and I hope that we will see more of Grandma Redbird!

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more of the series! I am hoping that the maturity level of the characters will develop as they get older.

MY RATING:

4 stars! It was really good! You should put it on your "To Be Read" list!

This book qualifies as: 

#4 for my 2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
#4 for my 2013 Read-a-Latte Challenge
#2 for my 2013 Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge: Book Version
#2 for my 2013 Where Are You Reading? Challenge
#2 for my 50 States Challenge 2013
#3 for my The In the Middle Reading Challenge
#3 for my 2013 Women Challenge
#2 for my New Authors Challenge 2013 
#2 for my 2013 Reading Challenge: First-Reads 
#2 for my 2013 1st In A Series Challenge
#4 for my 2013 Books-in-a-Series Reading Challenge
#2 for my Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2013 
#2 for my 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge 
#3 for my Embarrassment of Riches Reading Challenge 2013
#1 for my 2013 Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
#1 for my 2013 Catch Up Reading Challenge
#4 for my 2013 Literary Exploration Reading Challenge
#2 for my 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge
#4 for my 2013 Genre Variety Reading Challenge
#2 for Task #4 of my 2013 Sub-Genre Reading Challenge
#1 for my Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge 2013
#2 for my 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge 
#1 for my 2013 Heavenly Challenge 
#1 of Category #1 for my 2013 Immortal Reading Challenge
#2 for my 2013 Young Adult Reading Challenge
#1 for my 2013 YA/MG Fantasy Challenge
#1 for my 2013 Mythology Challenge 
#1 for my 2013 Award Winning Books Reading Challenge 
#1 for my 2013 Banned Books Challenge
#3 for my 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge
#4 for my Monthly Mix-up Mania: 2013 to 2015 Edition  
Letter M for my 2013 A to Z Reading Challenge 
#2 for my Retreat's Reading Bingo 2013 Challenge
#1 for my What An Animal Reading Challenge VI
#1 for my 2013 House of Night Reading Challenge
#7 for my Banned Books Perpetual Challenge 

View all my reviews

8 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that you liked this! I'm shocked to hear they (tried, I'm going to guess? Since the series is still being published...) ban this. I could go on a whole rant on that (Starting with "Quit trying to raise my family..." and ending with "Get up off your butt and check what YOUR kids are reading if you care so much." <-- to those who insist on sticking their noses in everyone else's business... *ARGH!*) but I'll leave you with that condensed version.

    Great review!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy Ann! According to ALA website, the series was "banned at Henderson Junior High School in the Stephenville, Tex. Independent School District (2009). The entire teen vampire series was banned for sexual content and nudity. Since the series has not yet been completed, 'Stephenville ISD actually banned books that have not yet been published and perhaps even books that are yet to be written. There is no way the district could know the content of these books, and yet they have been banned.' Source: Nov. 2009,. pp. 197-98, 225."

      I agree with you on banning books. That's not for anyone to decide except the parents!

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  2. Sadly, this is one of those series that starts out well, but has dwindled with the successive books. I keep reading them though, because I'm hoping some of the magic of Marked will make a return at the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, dear. Not good, Leeanna. I really enjoyed the world-building in Marked and had high hopes it was leading up to something great!

      I'm committed now to reading the series, and I hope I'll still enjoy it.

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  3. I really enjoyed this one too. I have to agree with Leeanna that the series as it goes on isn't always as good as this one. Thanks for the great review.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Natalie. That's too bad about the series losing its steam.

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  4. I haven't read this series but I enjoyed reading your review. I can see how the sexual themes probably did raise concern with some folks who didn't want the books available via the schools, etc.

    That said I'm not a fan of banning or censoring books or making them completely unavailable. It does sound like your caution regarding age appropriateness of the material is a good idea--not that the younger kids will pay attention. :) (I remember some of my youthful reading selections that would certainly have caused my parents to turn pale at the though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Vikk. Although I don't agree with banning or censoring books, I believe that parents should be aware of what their kids are reading. I always thought the YA genre was "just for kids." Boy, was I wrong! It has become one of my favourite genres and, if I hadn't started reading it, I would have mistakenly allowed my kids to read books from the YA genre at an age that would have been too early. I now read lots of YA books and, while I enjoy them, I don't necessarily want my kids to read them just yet ;) Lots of them contain sexual content and swearing, so parents really should be doing pre-reading or at least picking up some of your children's favourite books and see what they are reading and whether it's appropriate!

      Parents should be in control of their children's book choices, not anyone else.

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