Last chapter ended with these evocative lines:
I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and hoped desperately that whatever we were eating for dinner (oh, please let there not be any blood-drinking involved) wouldn’t disagree with my already screwed-up, nervous stomach.
“Oh, no…” I whispered to myself, “it would be just my luck to get a raging case of diarrhea.”
That really stirred up a lot of emotions for me, you guys. I’m sure we’re all excited to find out whether or not she got diarrhea because that would be like so totally embarrassing, and mean-girls-wannabe Aphrodite would probably point and laugh a lot and be like “I’m too cool for diarrhea.” Even though no one is too cool for diarrhea.
No diarrhea to speak of. [Matthew says: Just think how close this post was to being titled “Vampire Poop”.] Instead we’re subjected to an extremely long description of the dining hall. Look, Cast family, I’m not trying to read a catalog for vampyre school decor, okay? Let’s get back to the vampyre blow jobs and Aphrodite.
Each table sat about six kids and radiated out from a large, unoccupied table situated at the center of the room that was practically overflowing with fruit and cheese and meat, and a crystal goblet that was filled with something that looked suspiciously like red wine. (Huh? Wine at school? What?)
My first thought would be that it’s blood. Because vampyres. And I’m surprised Zoey doesn’t come to that conclusion as well since she keeps bringing up whether or not she’s going to start drinking blood soon. [Matthew says: I made the exact same note! It was more surprising that it turned out to not be blood. Marked just out-dumbed itself.] Also, she probably will get a shit ton of diarrhea (hehe get it?) if she’s eating all that cheese and meat and blood or wine.
Stevie Rae introduces Zoey to her crew. She helpfully reduces them down to stereotypes for us so we don’t have to.
“Erin is ‘the pretty one.’ She’s also funny and smart and has more shoes than anyone I’ve ever known.” […]
“And this is the token guy in our group, Damien Maslin. But he’s gay, so I don’t really think he counts as a guy.”
Instead of getting pissed at Stevie Rae, Damien looked serene and unruffled. “Actually, since I’m gay I think I should count for two guys instead of just one. I mean, in me you get the male point of view and you don’t have to worry about me wanting to touch your boobies.”
Though I appreciate the tiny attempt to go against stereotypes, I don’t understand how not having to worry about him touching their “boobies” makes him double the man? I think he should count as a regular guy end of sentence/point with no further argument needed. [Matthew says: Even following the novel’s unsettling and actually a little rapey logic, how does him doing something zero times the average somehow make him double the average? Wouldn’t he count for zero guys according to this rule?] I also move that we should eliminate all mention of lady-parts in this book as clearly the series is too immature to handle it.
[Matthew says: Also, can we take a second to talk about how fucking ridiculous it is that I was already criticizing Marked for trying to be Mean Girls, and then it introduces a gay character WITH THE EXACT SAME NAME AS THE GAY CHARACTER FROM MEAN GIRLS? Kristin and P.C. Cast, you don’t even go here!]
Also, remember that tiny attempt to go against stereotypes I mentioned? Just kidding:
Actually, he [Damien] was cute. Not in the overly girly way so many teenage guys are when they decide to come out and tell everyone what everyone already knew (well, everyone except their typically clueless and/or in-denial parents). Damien wasn’t a swishy girlyguy; he was just a cute kid with a likable smile.
The tactic seems to be to pull a “cool parent.” You know, the parent that’s like, “I know what you guys think about parents. Those squares! But I’m the cool mom/dad that doesn’t do all those stereotypical things like make you clean your room or get confused about what “lol” means. I’m different!” Saying that your character isn’t a stereotype by implying that most other people are the stereotype doesn’t make you any more impressive than someone whose character embodies the stereotype and isn’t fleshed out any further. It’s still incredibly lazy, offensive writing.
I get that this is Zoey’s perspective and that plenty of teenagers may actually think this way. It’s just that this to me reads like the authors, again, blatantly thrusting in their own opinions or misguided attempts to mimic teenagers. “Actually, he was cute.” I have yet to meet a girl who has thought that a gay man can’t be cute in a way that isn’t “overly girly”. Yeesh.
New Friends then inform Zoey about the evil group of girls which Aphrodite belongs to.
“The Dark Daughters,” Stevie Rae said, and I noticed she automatically lowered her voice.
“Think of them like a sorority,” Damien said.
“Or hags from hell,” Erin said
Or boring and predictable. We could think of them like that too. [Matthew says: Also, yes, there is legitimately a cafeteria scene where the main character’s new friends explain all the school’s cliques. Just like in, oh, I don’t know…]
We then meet the final (maybe) member of the group Shaunee. Her personality traits seem to be that she’s bold and beautiful. But I thought being pretty was Erin’s thing! I’m so confused. She asks Zoey about her mark, and everyone’s like, “Oh no she didn’t.” But she did.
Zoey explains that she had an accident and when she woke up it was filled in, and everyone is like, “Oh…lame.” [Matthew says: Which is incidentally the only time we’ll ever be thinking the same thing as any characters in this book.]
With that out of the way, there are more serious matters to discuss.
“You’re confusing the crap outta Zoey,” Stevie Rae said.
Damien gave a long-suffering sigh. “I’ll explain, proving once again how valuable I am to this group, penis or no penis.” [Thank you for reminding us that despite being gay, you’re a boy, Damien.]
“I really wish you wouldn’t use the P-word,” Stevie Rae said.
“Especially when I’m trying to eat.”
“I like it,” Erin chimed in. “If everyone called things what they are we’d all be a lot less confused. For instance, you know when I have to go to the bathroom I state the obvious—I have urine that needs to come out of my urethra. Simple. Easy. Clear.”
“Disgusting. Gross. Crude,” Stevie Rae said.
“I’m with you, Twin,” Shaunee said. “I mean, if we talked plainly about things like urination and menstruation and such, life would be much simpler.”
An adorable attempt by the Cast family to display their teen-speak talents. “Ah yes, you know what the teens are talking about these days? Menstruation and urination! Ah yes, brilliant! Add in something about boobies and it’ll seem like a fifteen year old wrote this book.”
Also the need to keep reminding us how awesomely diverse this group is reaches a point of cringy proportions.
“I may be gay, but there’s only so much even I can handle.” [This is referring back to the mention of menstruation. Lest we forget Damien is a boy and gay for a second.] He leaned toward me and launched into his explanation. “First, Shaunee and Erin call each other Twin because even though they are clearly not related—Erin being an extremely white girl from Tulsa, and Shaunee being of Jamaican descent and a lovely mocha color from Connecticut—”
Thank you for appreciating my blackness,” Shaunee said. [It’s fine that we find this out earlier when Shaunee first sits down, but if they’re going to keep pointing out that Shaunee is black and Damien is gay I’m going to get pissed off really fast. At first I was like, at least the book is trying not to be a typical white-washed story, but if you’re not going to let the characters be more than that it’s an issue.]
[Matthew says: I do genuinely appreciate how diverse the cast of this novel is and have to compliment it for at least trying, but hooooooly fuck. “Thank you for appreciating my blackness”???? I’ll take “Things Real Black People Probably Don’t Actually Say” for $500, Alex. The only way that sentence could have been more obviously written by a white person would be if it ended with “word”.]
We learn a bit more about the group Aphrodite belongs to, and we learn that Damien is gay. Again.
“That’s right. Yeah, they’re supposed to be this great, pro- school, provamp organization. Also, it is assumed that their leader is being groomed to be a High Priestess, so she’s supposed to be the heart, mind, and spirit of the school—as well as a future leader in vamp society, et cetera, et cetera, blah, blah. Think National Merit Scholar in charge of the Honor Society mixed with cheerleaders and band fags.”
“Hey, isn’t it disrespectful to your gayness to call them band fags?”
All I read was “Think stereotypes stereotypes lazy writing Damien is gay and the word fag is still offensive even if a gay guy uses it.” [Matthew says: Even more baffling (because somehow this book constantly finds new ways to continue going downhill), Damien’s response is that he “uses it as a term of endearment”. I’m legitimately scared Kristin and P.C. Cast are going to have Shaunee whip out the N-word at some point.]
Aphrodite conveniently shows up to pull a Draco Malfoy (she even has two minions with her! OMG Crabe and Goyle-lite!) [Matthew says: OMG Karen Smith and Gretchen Weiners-lite!] and invite Zoey to join her club.
“Zoey, I should have said something to you earlier, but I guess it just slipped my mind. I want to issue an invitation for you to join the Dark Daughters in our own private Full Moon Ritual tomorrow night. I know it’s unusual for someone who hasn’t been here long to take part in a ritual so soon, but your Mark has clearly shown that you’re, well, different than the average fledgling.” She looked down her perfect nose at Stevie Rae. “I’ve already mentioned it to Neferet, and she agrees that it would be good for you to join us. I’ll give you the details later, when you’re not so busy with…uh…trash.”
It’s been awhile, but I’m pretty sure Draco tried to get in with Harry at first until Harry rejected him for Ron and Hermione. [Matthew says: He did! There was that great exchange where Draco was all “Some wizarding families are better than others. I’ll make sure you don’t go falling in with the bad sort”, and then Harry’s all “I think I can figure out the bad sort for myself, thanks”. But then Ron and Hermione were all “No! Dude! Pretend to be friends with him and we can learn all their secrets and take them down from within!” but then Draco shows Harry the burn book and Tina Fey the potions master wait I’m getting the stories Marked is ripping off mixed up.]
Tune in next time to find out if Zoey joins the hags from hell, if Damien is still gay, and if Shaunee is still black.