Thursday, 24 June 2010

House of Night

After having finished Crime and Punishment, I felt as if I’d earned a break and decided it was time to wallow in what I like to call reading junk food. Boy did I wallow. Audible was having a sale, so I purchased the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast and started reading.

Frankly, I’m not going to bother writing a review of each book in itself. I’m up to book four and decided that, although entertaining, they simply aren’t worth a review a piece. They do not live up to the hype of Forget Harry Potter nor do they even measure up to the Twilight series – let me just add here that I still cringe at the whole idea of the Twilight series and if you look at the individual elements such as plot and writing style the word shameful comes to mind, but somehow Meyer manages to get you hooked all the same. Hat’s off to her for doing so. There aren’t many who could have pulled that off.

Back to the House of Night: The books are set in normal, modern society with the twist of everyone not only believing in vampires, but knowing that they exist. Vampirism is genetic in origin and those who experience the change, i.e. are marked, have no choice in the matter. Not all of those who are marked survive the metamorphosis into Vampirism either. Some people’s bodies reject the Change. Since they are no longer human, those who are marked must attend the local House of Night school. In Zoey’s case, this means the one in Tulsa. She must leave behind her human friends, boyfriend and zealous Christian family to attend.

From here the books go on to the usual, predictable plots of rejection by friends and family, making new friends, and facing the evil that is to come. Zoey is, of course, special and has special talents that will help her and her new friends to defeat the coming evil. All in all, they’re entertaining enough, but they fail to really grab one in the way Harry Potter or even Edward Cullen did. The characters are likeable and engaging enough, although occasionally a little flat. The constant obsession with sex becomes more than a little annoying as well. If this is an accurate reflection of today’s youth, no wonder the world’s in trouble. I mean honestly, I was once a teenager too, but no one in our school of 1000+ students was that constantly focused on sex. The Casts would have done well to focus more on some of the unusual lessons or lore included in the school. After all, it is important to the plot, but it’s usually added as an after thought instead of making it central character’s lives and discussion topics. It's almost as if they couldn't be bothered to do the research.

Also, it just has to be said that the main character Zoey is just a ho. I don’t say this lightly, but the girl is a ho by anyone’s standards. I can understand the confusion and not wanting to decide, or waiting until marriage etc. etc., but someone who is apparently supposed to be so special that the fate of the world will eventually rest in her hands ought to possess a little more common sense in regards to mere boys and sex. Honestly, if she can’t focus on something else for longer than a few minutes at a time and be honest with the people involved, I want another super-hero please.

I’ll also probably get branded a homophobe for this – let me just say I frankly just don’t care if people are gay or not. What counts for me is how they interact with me, not the person they go to bed with. - but the constant Issue of homosexuality gets annoying after a while. It’s not enough to say that Damian and Jack are boyfriends; they have to make an issue about it every time it comes up. It seems to me they would be doing more to advance the cause if they just write the whole thing in as if it were the accepted norm and no one ever questioned it. After all, no one introduces the heterosexual characters as, this is Erik, e.g., he’s hetero, so why do it with anyone else? Making it an issue, well, that makes it an Issue instead of the non-issue it should be. They’re gay. We get it. Can we move on please?

I read somewhere that Kristin is a co-writer because they wanted to keep the teenage bits authentic, but personally, I would have preferred a little less realism. I’m certainly old-fashioned on this front, but I can’t help but feel that instead of writing down to people, we should be giving them something to aim at. Characters who are likeable, but follow a good moral code, e.g. Harry Potter. A good editor wouldn’t have hurt this book either. Some of it is so poorly written that even I notice how bad it is. N.B. My blog may be poorly written, but no one is paying to read it.

As scathing as that all sounds, the books are still entertaining, if annoying from time to time. I may (or may not) finish the series, if only to see where they go with it, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to read any more of their work. The whole series gets a 2 out of 5 from me.


Lady Rook said...

Bit of a tangent here but your blog poorly written? You're joking, aren't you? I love your book reviews and always find them informative and intelligent even if I don't agree with your opinion. I've just finished The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante based on one of your recs and found it to be a real page-turner. Have ordered more of Lynda's work from the library. :)

Lula O said...

I tried to start this one as well and couldn't make it past the first few chapters. ugh ugh ugh

But how'd you make it to book four??

And I agree. Your reviews are always very well written.