I think it’s important to note that PC and Kristin Cast–we’ve got a first here on BBGT: a shitty book we can blame on two people!–actually were in a creative writing class, or at least PC was. This specific story was workshopped. I just want everyone to remember that as we read this. Especially given we were discussing something along these lines in a comments thread recently, and the question was thrown out about whether these books are actually workshopped and how people aren’t like, “This is terrible. Please change all of the things.”
Fun fact: PC is Kristin’s mom, and in her acknowledgements she writes, “I also want to thank my fabulous daughter, Kristin, for making sure we sound like teenagers.” I want you to also remember this as we read the book.
So just remember this workshopped book that two people wrote together starts like this:
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.
Man, I hate when that happens! High school is hard enough without dead people hanging around. It’s like, come on, dead guy, I have a math test next period and a pimple on my forehead!
[Matthew says: In its own shitty way, I can’t get over how brilliant a first sentence this is. This is like the “Mother died today” of bad books. Although depending on who you’re talking to about Camus, “Mother died today” might be the “Mother died today” of bad books.]
Kayla was talking nonstop in her usual K-babble, and she didn’t even notice him. [Matthew says: No joke, I read this as “Korean babble” at first and thought this book got wildly racist on sentence number two.] At first. Actually, now that I think about it, no one else noticed him until he spoke, which is, tragically, more evidence of my freakish inability to fit in.
Because she noticed the dead guy before anyone else it’s supposed to signal to us that she doesn’t fit in? That’s all the evidence we’re going to get? I would think maybe if she was the only one to notice him at all I could understand. Noticing something first might just mean you happened to be looking in the right direction or are more perceptive then the people around you.
“No, but Zoey, I swear to God Heath didn’t get that drunk after the game. You really shouldn’t be so hard on him.”
Remember when PC thanked Kristin for making sure they sounded like teenagers? She must have meant “Thanks for helping me sound like people who never talk to high school students and have watched two episodes of One Tree Hill think highschoolers speak.” You know, it’s not even exactly what K is saying in this sentence, it’s the awful emphasis placed on the words that makes it seem so exaggerated and out of touch with reality. [Matthew says: And yet it’s still not as bad as Juno.]
“Yeah,” I said absently. “Sure.” Then I coughed. Again. I felt like crap. I must be coming down with what Mr. Wise, my more-than-slightly-insane AP biology teacher, [But is he as bad as the teacher from Hush, Hush?] [Matthew adds: The guy whose biology classes taught how to pick up women? We can only hope!] called the Teenage Plague. If I died, would it get me out of my geometry test tomorrow? One could only hope.
Wait what happened to the dead guy and not fitting in? High school is hard!
“Zoey, please. Are you even listening? I think he only had like four—I dunno—maybe six beers, and maybe like three shots. But that’s totally beside the point. He probably wouldn’t even have had hardly any if your stupid parents hadn’t made you go home right after the game.”
Hmmm on second thought I have worked with a lot of teenagers these past few years and a lot of times their conversations are this dumb, so it’s not completely off the mark. Well played, Cast family. [Matthew says: My favorite part of this is the escalation! Four beers! Six beers! And three shots! And a line of coke! I KNOW MY LIMITS, MAN.]
K continues to explain why Zoey’s almost-boyfriend Heath was drinking after the football match. I mean “it’s been like a million years since Broken Arrow [What kind of name for a school is that anyway?] [Matthew adds: Obviously the kind of school that disaffected Young Adult Fiction high school girls go to! Didn’t Twilight take place in Forks or something? How will you know how boring their lives are if they don’t live somewhere with a super boring name? That’s what we in the business call “symbolism”.] beat Union,” so like totally duh to the max to the power of four he was gonna drink.
Zoey continues to feel sick/dizzy while she points out to K that Heath’s drinking is totally lame
and the beer is going to make him fat. She also informs K that Heath is a terrible kisser. Too bad he’s such a hottie!
Then I saw him. The dead guy.
Oh, okay, here we go. It’s kicking off!
Okay, I realized pretty quick that he wasn’t technically “dead.” 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.
What the fuck just happened? Did I just get hit by a bus? What do any of these words mean when strung together?
More importantly, who let this man into school? Don’t you need some sort of vampyre tracker visitor’s badge. Any good school knows the importance of this kind of security. We can’t just let these people stand willy nilly by girls’ lockers now can we? [Matthew says: Especially a man who enters a school premeditatedly to touch teenage girls and change their physiology and life trajectory against their will. I mean, the front desk should photocopy their driver’s license or something.]
“Zoey Montgomery! Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Night calls to thee; hearken to Her sweet voice.
Someone call security! This person clearly does not have an appropriate visitor’s badge and is yammering about vague and unnecessary
plot devices prophecies! Look, I love a good prophecy plot device as much as the next person–wait, is this even a prophecy? Or just something a crazy homeless person might shout at you? Discuss!–but I do not approve here.
Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!”
House of Night? That sounds like both the hottest dance club in town AND the title of this book.
He points a finger at Zoey and her head explodes in pain (I’m sorry, am I reading Harry Potter? Does she also have a lighting bolt scar?)
“He Marked you. Oh, Zoey! You have the outline of that thing on your forehead!” Then she pressed a shaking hand against her white lips, unsuccessfully trying to hold back a sob.
Where can we expect our children to be safe if they can just get marked left and right in school? I have half a mind to bring this up at the next PTA meeting! After I eat all of that bitch Trish’s delicious banana bread!
There is more “K-babble” which really just reads as normal dialogue and not as much babble as you’d expect. [Matthew says: It is also not as in Korean as you’d expect.] She expresses concern over both vague and shallow things alike.
“Oh, God, Zoey! What are you going to do? You can’t go to that place. You can’t be one of those things. This can’t be happening! Who am I supposed to go to all of our football games with?”
She will just die if she shows up with Zoey to a football game when she’s one of those things, looking like that after being at that place! Am I playing mad libs right now? Am I supposed to be choosing my own places and things to fill in here? And Matt, if you will, I believe it’s time for our favorite game of What if Other Books Were Written Like This!
Matthew says: Why, yes it is.
- “Oh, God, Harry! You can’t sacrifice yourself! You can’t be a horcrux! This can’t be happening! Who will I play Quidditch with?”
- “Oh, God, Mister Frodo! You can’t be dead! You can’t have lost the ring and given up all hope for a free Middle Earth! This can’t be happening! Who will I smoke weed with?”
- “Oh, God, Luke! You can’t fight Vader! You can’t let yourself get killed for the rebellion! This can’t be happening! Who will I make out with not realizing they’re my brother?”
So much happens in the next few pages that I feel like my head is spinning. First, Zoey demonstrates to us that she’s a total bitch.
As it was, there was only one other kid in the math hall—a tall thin dork with messed-up teeth, which I could, unfortunately, see too much of because he was standing there with his mouth flapping open staring at me like I’d just given birth to a litter of flying pigs. I coughed again, this time a really wet, disgusting cough [Ew. She won’t stop describing this damn cough! There better be an important reason for this filth!]. The dork made a squeaky little sound and scuttled down the hall to Mrs. Day’s room clutching a flat board to his bony chest. Guess the chess club had changed its meeting time to Mondays after school.
Rude! I’m supposed to feel sympathetic then when this leads into her wondering, “Do vampyres play chess? Were there vampyre dorks? How about Barbie-like vampyre cheerleaders? Did any vampyres play in the band? Were there vampyre Emos with their guy-wearing-girl’s-pants weirdness and those awful bangs that cover half their faces? Or were they all those freaky Goth kids who didn’t like to bathe much?”
So many stupid questions so little time, Zoey. I’m also wondering what she actually knows about these vampyres? It seems like they’re not trying to hide from society or anything, and she knew this guy was a tracker, so why doesn’t she know the answers to these questions? [Matthew says: Sorry, I’m still laughing at that “were there vampyre emos” part.]
K abruptly leaves during what is apparently a crisis of sorts to catch a ride home with her boyfriend Jared (yup, another Jared here. Makes me miss my brother and feel bad that he shares a name with guys from these books), which seems like a dick move to me.
Apparently, Zoey has two choices. She can become a vampyre or resist the change and die. Choice one means she’s going to have to go to vampyre boarding school. I’m not writing that as a joke here, that is a real thing actually happening in this book. She knows the exact location of this boarding school but not if vampyres play chess or dress in various ways.
Zoey is sad because all she wants is to fit in, but now no one will want to be seen with her. She goes to hide in the bathroom to avoid almost-boyfriend Heath and the gaggle of girls surrounding him outside (wait, is Heath also Travis Maddox?) [Matthew says: One of these days we should figure out how all these books are secretly connected with different character names and stuff. Marked is obviously an unofficial prequel to Walking Disaster because Heath is a young Travis Maddox. Maybe Zoey will wind up being Christian’s crack whore birth mother from Fifty Shades!]
Zoey gazes at herself in the mirror, describes her features to us in long, boring detail and reveals she has Cherokee ancestors, which I’m sure will mean she qualifies for a scholarship at the vampyre boarding school! I heard they’re trying to add more diversity to their student body. [Matthew says: No, really, I want to talk about how weird this Cherokee ancestor thing out of nowhere is:
for a moment – just an instant – I forgot about the horror of not belonging and felt a shocking burst of pleasure, while deep inside of me the blood of my grandmother’s people rejoiced.
Why would the blood of her ancestors rejoice? Guys, I think the Cherokee supposed to be vampires in this book. Why the fuck not.]