We’ve been having some issues with WordPress automatically updating our social media this week, so make sure you didn’t miss this week’s Matthew Watches The Room or the guest post from Ariel’s boyfriend about a deviant erotic thriller from 1928!
We run a lot of interesting material on this blog.
Zoey provided a very handy summary of all the plot finally starting to happen at the end of last chapter:
Could this day get any worse? Elliott dies and I’m attracted to his blood. I have to go to the Samhain ritual tonight with a bunch of kids who hate me and want to make sure I know it, and I’ve probably Imprinted my ex-almost-boyfriend.
Okay, so none of them really fill the increasingly desperate shoes of “narrative”, but as a lump sum, they do meet the basic requirements for rising action.
Although in Marked‘s case, we’re 87% through the book and still doing setup. [Ariel says: Maybe it’s because the Casts wanted to be able to stuff as many books as possible into this series. I have yet to look up how many there actually are, but I was under the impression new ones were still coming out for some reason.] [Matthew adds: More like obviously because the Casts are just trying to stuff out as many books as possible.] Are the stakes getting higher? Sure, more or less. Do we have any idea what the stakes actually are? No, because there still isn’t a goddamn narrative. What are we supposed to be focusing on? There’s the antagonist/bitchy high school girl/overdetermined signifier Aphrodite doing… something. A minor character who has been in three chapters is in magic-vampire love with Zoey which means… something. There are kids mysteriously dying and maybe becoming zombie ghosts or… something.
Needless to say – since I’ve been going on for 250 words and haven’t even started the chapter yet – this book’s lack of an actual plot is a pretty serious problem. Marked doesn’t really seem to give a shit about any of these plot points to flesh any of them out into an actual narrative structure that develops over the course of the book. UNTIL MAYBE NOW?
Zoey is on her way to go talk to Neferet about Heath, but finds Aphrodite hiding and having a vision!
She’d probably felt it coming on and hidden in the alcove so no one would find her and she could keep her info about the death and destruction she could prevent to her hateful self. Cow. Hag.
Wow, the Casts aren’t even trying to write Zoey’s disdain of Aphrodite anymore. They’re literally just throwing out words. Lazy. Amateurish.
Zoey decides to kill two birds with one stone and drag Aphrodite to Neferet’s office so she can get help with Heath and uncover Aphrodite’s true nature. Neither of these things happen, of course, but A for effort, Zoey! You sort of tried!
Neferet vampyre-magics Aphrodite into talking about her vision but – and I tried, there’s really no other way to word this – pulls out too soon.
“So much blood! There’s so much blood coming out of his body!”
“Who, Aphrodite? Center yourself. Focus and clear the vision,” Neferet commanded.
Aphrodite drew another gasping breath. “They’re dead! No. No. That can’t be! Not right. No. Not natural! I don’t understand… I don’t…”
Whoa! Sounds dramatic! Like maybe the sort of thing that could become the climax of a book’s narrative? Are the Casts finally setting up what is maybe the plot 87% of the way through the book?
She blinked again, and her gaze seemed to clear. She looked around the room, like she didn’t recognize anything. Her eyes touched me. “You…” she said faintly. “You know.”
“Yeah,” I said, thinking that I sure did know that she was trying to hide her vision
Oh my God, Zoey, we get it. You’re really dumb. Stop interrupting the maybe-plot.
“No, she’s not finished. She shouldn’t be coming to so soon. The vision is still to abstract,” Neferet told me quickly […]
“Tunnels… they kill… someone there… I don’t… I can’t…”
Ha, wouldn’t it suck if this was also something that the book was going to set up and then just awkwardly leave undeveloped and hanging like the zombie ghosts or Zoey’s special mark because Marked is setting up sequels before it sets up its own plot? Ha. Imagine.
Neferet kicks Zoey out because this is Serious Business, and we know Zoey well enough by now to know that Zoey and her story has nothing to do with such matters. She leaves without telling Neferet about Heath being Imprinted, but I guess we can forgive her stupidity in this matter because, hey, it wasn’t a great time and lots of stories revolve around people mistakenly thinking they can put off their problems. [Ariel says: Yeah, and as far as dropping plot points goes, I feel like this would be an excellent one to leave behind. I care not about Heath or his imprinting!] [Matthew adds: I mean, neither does Zoey…] Also, it’s nothing compared to what she ignores next.
Oh, wait, Zoey runs into her friends and they’re all “What’s up?” and Zoey’s all “lol nothing”. That’s technically what happens next, but it’s dumb.
“What’s going on with your ex?” Damien asked.
“He’s buggin’, that’s all. If he didn’t bug, he wouldn’t be my ex.”
Okay. I can maybe believe that in the time since I’ve been a teenager, someone “bugging” has become slang, but I refuse to believe that using “bug” as a verb in the same way could possibly be a thing that happened. [Ariel says: It’s also just doesn’t at all fit into how Zoey regularly speaks. It sounds like a new character has entered the scene. Like, I know this slang actually exists, but it doesn’t fit here at all.] This delivery sounds just forced enough where I can’t read it without stopping to raise an eyebrow. PRO WRITING TIP: Try to not have your reader stop reading your story to raise an eyebrow.
They try talking Zoey out of going to the Dark Daughters ritual, since it’s been a bad day and she doesn’t have a plan to deal with Aphrodite anyway, but Zoey doesn’t want to risk losing her friends by telling them the truth about everything.
So I did what I had learned to do too well at home when I was scared and upset and didn’t know what else to do – I got pissed and defensive.
What’s really funny about this is that this has never actually come up before, so this thing Zoey does “all too well” comes out of nowhere. Except it also doesn’t because the Casts write with so little self-awareness that they’ve unintentionally given the reader nothing but instances of Zoey being pissy and terrible to people.
“You guys say that I have powers that will someday make me your High Priestess? […] Then you need to listen to me when I say no.”
BUT WAIT SOMEHOW ZOEY GETS EVEN MORE IRRITATING AFTER THIS POINT. Because what happens next is, on her way to the Dark Daughters ritual, RANDOM IGNORED ZOMBIE GHOST PLOT POINT HAPPENS AGAIN.
Elliot was standing not ten feet from me in the darkness […] He was abnormally white, but there was more wrong about him that that. His eyes had changed. They reflected what little light there was and they glowed a terrible rust red, like dried blood.
Exactly as the ghost of Elizabeth’s eyes had glowed.
HOLY SHIT. ZOMBIE GHOSTS. Is this maybe the plot of this novel after all?! Sure it’s only occurred in one previous instance and we’re 89% of the way through the book, but that actually puts it neck-and-neck with the competition of other abandoned plot points vying to become the totally absent plot at the eleventh hour!
An epic battle rages!
Nala’s battle yowl rent the night as she hurled herself at Elliott’s ghost. […] He screamed, grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, and threw her away from him. Then, with impossible speed and strength he literally leaped to the top of the wall, and disappeared into the night that surrounded the school.
Okay, so this is now the second time a fledgling vampyre has died and then Zoey saw them reappear as a feral, zombie ghost creature. Surely this has something to do with Marked‘s narrative. [Ariel says: We like to dream big here.]
I should go directly to Neferet and tell her what had happened. I should get up right now […] and tell her about Elizabeth last night and now Elliott tonight. I should… I should…
No. This time it wasn’t a scream within me. It was the strength of certainty. I could not tell Neferet, at least not at that moment.
“I have to go to the ritual.”
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. WHAT. Okay, let’s get this straight:
- “I have to go to the ritual” Oh my God, I can’t stop laughing at that. [Ariel says: Me neither. It’s just so amazingly unaware of how absurd it is.] I feel like it was supposed to come off as serious and determined, but come on. The Dark Daughters ritual is not Zoey’s highest priority right now, and expecting us – the reader – to believe that it’s more important than rapidly dying kids coming back to life as inhuman zombie ghosts is ludicrous.
- Speaking of inhuman zombie ghosts, this is the last time they ever appear in this novel. Seriously. This whole “kids are dying and coming back to life” mystery is left hanging. [Ariel says: The Casts had to pull out all the stops to get people to keep reading. I know I’m hooked. If I wasn’t I’d be buggin’.] This would be like if Star Wars had everyone escape the Death Star and then never mention the Death Star again. This would be like if Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had Harry learn that Fluffy was guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone and then never mention the Sorcerer’s Stone again. This would be like if Gone With The Wind had everybody go off to fight in the Civil War and then never mention the Civil War again. “Now, Matthew,” you might say, “That last example isn’t fair because Gone With The Wind is a standalone story, not the first entry in a series.” Sure, but why is that a relevant counterpoint? By being the first entry in a series, a story is excused from having a story? [Ariel says: It would be like if in the Hunger Games Katniss was supposed to go play in the hunger games, but then the hunger games were never mentioned again.]
- Despite the zombie ghosts very obviously being the priority here, Zoey decides to go to the Dark Daughters ritual anyway. Fucking why? What is the point of this? It completely destroys any suspension of disbelief that Zoey has any good reason to prioritize Aphrodite over the dead-kids-turned-zombie-ghosts. And what is her reason? Zoey “could tell”. The main character is behaving with logic that the reader cannot understand and the authors cannot defend. So what does this tell us? Well, this is a really obvious sign that Neferet is actually evil.
Zoey just knows not to talk to Neferet about what looks like obvious problems to the reader for reasons that look inscrutable to the reader.
I didn’t know much besides the two thoughts that were clearest in my mind: I couldn’t tell Neferet, and I had to go to the ritual.
Ergo, Neferet is secretly evil, because there is no other reason why Zoey wouldn’t go to her with an obviously huge problem right now. Jesus, I know the plot of the next book (or even further down the line of sequels!) before I even know the plot of this book, and this is the one I’ve read 90% of. [Ariel says: Eventually we find out that Neferet has been Voldemort all along.]