So I finally got curious enough to look this book up on Wikipedia (no, seriously, we do like no research for this blog), and I’m going to begin this post with this gem:
Some of the issues that Zoey and her friends face are not covered in Vampyre Sociology 101. They are issues faced by real-life human teenagers.
*strokes chin thoughtfully* Indeed…
[Ariel says: Issues like whether or not a hot boy was looking at you and whether or not you’re about to throw up or poo yourself. There’s some deep shit going on in this series.]
Zoey ended the last chapter, like she does in somehow half of these chapters, feeling nauseous. So Stevie Rae gives her some Tums. That is seriously how this chapter starts. Hopefully you weren’t already bored. [Ariel says: Should I even bother sticking around for this chapter?]
Zoey has to go off to a ritual with the
Plastics Dark Daughters. Even though she has no reason to based on, you know, context clues contained in this narrative, Stevie Rae is suddenly 100% convinced that Zoey is going to abandon her and become best friends with Aphrodite instead. Probably because she watched Mean Girls and just made assumptions about how stories work. Like the Casts. [Ariel says: They’ve also only been friends for a day and half, and Stevie Rae has an entire group of friends already. Red alert, Zoey, we’ve got a stage four clinger.]
“I’m not going to become one of them, Stevie Rae.”
“I believe you,” she said, but her eyes looked suspiciously big and round. […] she looked all forlorn and spanked puppylike.
Okay. We make fun of the excessive and/or misused slang all the time in this book, but I have no idea what that means. Speaking of incoherency:
Oh. My. God. It was Erik. He was wearing all black, and his dark, curly hair and his insanely blue eyes reminded me of Clark Kent – well, okay, without the dorky glasses and the nerdy slicked-back hair… so… I supposed that would mean he actually reminded me (again) of Superman – well, without the cape or tights or the big S…
This seems like a good time to remind you that it took two people to write this book. [Ariel says: And it was apparently workshopped somehow. I guess it’s possible there were even more mentions of poop prior to what I’m sure was rigorous critiquing and editing.]
Erik leads her into the Dark Daughters ritual (Why is he there? It’s not explained, so hopefully you’re not actually that curious), where suddenly Aphrodite runs up to greet them. “Wait, a second, Matthew, the novel’s requisite bitch-nemesis has noticed her ex-boyfriend paying attention to the Mary Sue main character? Does… does that mean-” YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MOTHERFUCKER.
“Erik, thanks for making Zoey welcome. I can take it from here.” […] she even rested her manicured fingertips on Eriks’ arm for a second […] Erik barely gave her a look, and he definitely moved his arm away from her touch. Then he gave me a quick smile and, without glancing at Aphrodite again, walked away.
Aphrodite deems Zoey underdressed for their ritual and takes her somewhere where she can get changed. Zoey is hesitant to accept a friendly gesture from Aphrodite, but she is underdressed. Or, in Zoey’s own words:
Being dressed differently made me feel like I’d shown up at a party dressed like a duck, but no one had told me it wasn’t a costume party so everyone else was wearing jeans.
…Why would you assume that. [Ariel says: Holy shit. This that analogy is almost exactly like the scene from Mean Girls where Cady doesn’t wear a sexy costume to the Halloween party!] [Matthew says: OH MY GOD I DIDN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THAT. How did I miss a way this book ripped off Mean Girls? I need to go watch this movie another twenty times.]
Aphrodite bitches out Zoey a little bit about being Neferet’s new favorite. I honestly don’t care.
Zoey re-enters the room and sees a kid “slumped down with the hood of a cloak covering his or her head” whom everyone is ignoring and isn’t moving. Zoey expresses confusion over this.
Zoey sits in a circle while Aphrodite sets up. Zoey uses her powers of deduction to spot a knife with “a bone handle and a long, wicked curving blade that looked entirely too sharp to be used for cutting fruit or bread safely”.
Suddenly, Aphrodite has lit enough of the incense where Zoey finally identifies what something is:
something that made the scent finish tangy and bitter… dark and mystic and alluring in its… naughtiness. […] Well, hell! They were filling the room with pot smoke mixed with spices. Unbelievable. I’d stood up to peer pressure and for years said no to even the most polite offers to try one of those gross-looking homemade joints that get passed around at parties and whatnot. (I mean, please. Is that even sanitary? And just why exactly would I want to do a drug that made me want to obsessively eat fattening snack foods?)
A few weeks ago I was talking with one of my friends who wanted us to read this book, and she shared her theory with me that P.C. Cast totally just wrote these books with her daughter to try to impart her personal values on sexuality and drugs and alcohol on her. [Ariel says: This theory makes everything make complete sense!! All the anti-blowjob rhetoric!] It’s a pretty convincing theory, because it’s hard not to read scenes like this and suddenly see this entire book as a PSA trying desperately to grab the interest of high schoolers by trying to be hip and cool too.
Look, whatever your personal feelings are on pot use, you have to admit that this is a really lazy attempt at characterization on the Casts’ part to be like, “The Dark Daughters are so bad! How bad? They’re pot heads!”
They were talking quietly and acting like the totally illegal marijuana incense was no big deal. (Pot heads.)
Zoey stops being a moral compass for a second and talks to some other girls to try to keep her cool. And so we meet some of the other Dark Daughters, and the Casts really overdo their symbolism.
“Hi, I’m Enyo,” […]
“I’m Deino,” […] “Deino means terrible,” she said, smiling sweetly.
From my other side the tall blonde chimed in perkily, “And Enyo means warlike. […] Pemphredo, which means wasp, is the one lighting the incense,” explained Enjoy. “We got the names from Greek mythology. They were the three sisters of the Gorgon and Scylla.”
Look, I get that this is trying very hard to be symbolic, but this is fucking absurd. By having these characters we’re supposed to recognize as antagonists intentionally name themselves “terrible” and “warlike”, you’re basically saying, “LOOK OUT! These fourteen year olds are PURE EVIL” and expecting us to take it seriously. Yes, fourteen year olds suck (sorry, fourteen year olds, you do, but you’ll grow up and it’ll be okay), but pure evil? Let’s pretend other books were written this way.
- “The Plastics are teen royalty.” Damien explained to Cady. “That one there is Wicked Smith. She is one of the dumbest girls you will ever meet. The little one? That’s Incorrigible Wieners. She’s totally rich because her dad invented Toaster Strudel. And evil takes a human form in Evil George.”
- “He tortures toys!” Rex shouted. “Just for fun!”
“Be careful,” Woody told Buzz. “Once you’re in Chlamydia’s house, you’re never coming out!”
- “I am not Tom Riddle!” Tom shouted. “I got rid of my stupid Muggle father’s name and started going by a name of my own. I am now known as… Lord Hitlerface.”
[Ariel says: Come on, Matt, Lord Voldemort and Draco Malfoy are pretty damn close to neon signs flashing “EVIL CHARACTERS AHOY!” But I guess they’re a little more subtle.] [Matthew counters: Okay, I’ll give you “Draco Malfoy” because it’s got “Draconian” AND “mal” in there, but “Voldemort” is A MADE UP WORD.]
Returning to the somewhat equally absurdly named Aphrodite, she begins dancing around the circle like Neferet did during the real ceremony, except it’s more sensual. And then there’s another ritual and it’s basically the exact same thing as the last chapter. Even with Aphrodite’s “like the real thing but sluttier” version of it (which is a detail that gets dropped pretty early on, weirdly), it’s really goddamn boring to feel like we read the exact same thing two chapters in a row.
Aphrodite offers Zoey some wine, and Zoey freaks the fuck out over how good it is.
I couldn’t stop myself from licking my fingers to get one more taste of the wine that had spilled there. It was beyond delicious. And it smelled… it smelled familiar… […] there was something about this wine that was delicious beyond… well, beyond even Godiva dark chocolate truffles (I know, it’s hard to believe). And I still couldn’t figure out why it somehow seemed familiar.
Zoey takes so long to figure out she was tricked into drinking blood that even Incorrigible Wieners and Lord Hitlerface can’t believe how dragged out this shit is.
The person who had been slumped and motionless during the entire ritual […] was that annoying Elliott kid! […]
Enyo glanced at Elliott and then rolled her eyes. “He’s nothing. Just the refrigerator we used tonight.” […]
“Wait, I don’t get it. Refrigerator?” […]
“That’s what we call humans” […]
“I still don’t-” […]
“Oh, come on! Don’t pretend that you couldn’t tell what was in the wine, and that you didn’t love the taste of it.”
It finally dawns on Zoey that, as a vampyre at a vampyre ritual, she drank blood. She runs out of the room and, in the book’s most surprising development thus far, doesn’t end yet another chapter feeling nauseous, but actually throws up. And to think I was complaining that this story wasn’t going anywhere. [Ariel says: When I finished reading this chapter, my first thought was “Wow! Some follow through!”]