Zoey Is Still Trying To Not Complain About Her Presents: House of Night, Chosen Chapter 2

Hopefully you’re all enjoying our return to the riveting tale of House of Night, in which a girl is opening undesirable presents from her friends.

House of Night: Chosen Chapter 2

This second chapter serves two purposes. First, Zoey is still opening her friends’ totally awful birthday presents, which are all Christmas themed. Second, Zoey is summing up the entire plot for the reader. No, these two things do not go together especially seamlessly.

Much like, as Zoey would point out, the combination of birthdays and Christmas.

I stroked my hand over the folded material of the scarf, thoroughly shocked that I’d actually gotten a cool gift.
“It’s cashmere,” Damien said smugly.
I lifted it from the box [then] froze, realizing I’d been thrilled too soon.
“See the snowmen embroidered on the ends?” Damien said. “Aren’t they adorable?”

Also speaking of combinations of things that don’t quite work, how the hell are all these high schoolers affording such nice shit? Damien’s got a fucking Cashmere scarf, and then the twins (Erin and Shaunee) get Zoey fucking leather stilletto boots.

Inside was a pair of black leather stiletto boots that would have been utterly cool and chic and fabulous . . . had it not been for the Christmas trees, complete with red and gold ornaments, that were stitched in full color on the side of each boot. This. Can. Only. Be. Worn. At. Christmas. Which makes it definitely a lame birthmas present.
“Oh, thanks.” I tried to gush. “They’re really cute.”
“Took us forever to find them,” Erin said.
“Yeah, plain boots would not do for Ms. Born-on-the-Twenty-Fourth,” Shaunee said.
“No indeedy. Plain old black leather stiletto boots would never do,” I said, feeling like crying.

Wait, who gets people gifts like this even at Christmas?

And here’s another thing that doesn’t make sense about these presents that are juuuust not right. What’s the tone here? Is it supposed to be funny that Zoey’s suffering? Are we supposed to sympathize with Zoey’s plight? I mean, I think it’s hilarious, but probably not in the same way that we’re supposed to think these wacky misunderstandings are hilarious.

shrug woman emoji

Erik presents his gift, and initially Zoey freaks out when she sees the Moody’s Fine Jewelry sticker (again, why is everyone at this school loaded?).

The first thing I saw was the gleaming platinum chain. Speechless with happiness my eyes followed the chain down to the beautiful pearls that were nestled into the plush velvet. Velvet! Platinum! Pearls! I sucked in air so that I could begin my gushing ohmygodthankyouErikyou’rethebestboyfriendever when I realized that the pearls were oddly shaped.

And, lo, we find that the gift is not quite so ohmygodthankyouErikyou’rethebestboyfriendever.

The pearls were shaped into a snowman.

Zoey, maybe your problem is really just that you have really tacky friends.

“It’s cute,” Shaunee said.
“And very expensive,” Erin said.

Case in point. And maybe it’s a bit too early for this, but I’m really hoping that one of the twins gets offed next.

It's not illegal for us to do this for fictional characters, right?
It’s not illegal for us to do this for fictional characters, right?

Begrudgingly, I have to inform you that Zoey has a brief moment of maturity.

“Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate all the time and effort it took y’all to find such special gifts. I mean it.” And I did mean it. I may loathe the gifts, but the thoughts behind them were a totally different thing.

I say brief, because she totally reveals her true colors once she gets a mysterious extra present. But first, the story’s only interesting character is back! Entirely just as a forced reminder that she exists:

“Mail call came for you while you were back here with your nerd herd,” she sneered.
“Go away, Aphrodite, ya hag,” Shaunee said.
“Before we throw some water on you and you melt,” Erin added.
“Whatever,” Aphrodite said.

You know, I bet if we went back and tallied up the instances, the heroes of the story are probably being way meaner to Aphrodite now than she ever was to them. Speaking of forced reminders (seriously, why did Aphrodite, no one’s favorite person, get assigned to deliver Zoey’s mail?), this is a pretty smooth segue into Aphrodite’s entire narrative arc.

“You’d think she would have learned her lesson when you took the Dark Daughters from her, and Neferet proclaimed that the Goddess has withdrawn her gifts from Aphrodite,” Erik said.


Zoey narrates that there’s more to the story in maybe the most “let me spell out the previous book for you” way possible. By literally saying there’s more to the story.

Unfortunately, I knew there was more to the story than what everyone else believed. Aphrodite had used her visions, which had clearly not been taken away from her, to save my grandma as well as Heath, my human boyfriend. Sure, she’d been bitchy and selfish during the saving, but still.

And what the hell, let’s remind what’s going on with Neferet too!

Plus, recently I’d found out that Neferet, our High Priestess— my mentor, the vamp most looked up to at the school— was also not what she appeared to be. Actually, I was coming to believe that Neferet was probably as evil as she was powerful.

Wait, you mean that Zoey learned that Neferet is literally murdering children to raise an army of undead, which are also murdering local human high schoolers, and she’s just “coming to believe” Neferet is “probably” evil???? Also, wait, didn’t the last book end with Zoey and Neferet secretly declaring war on each other? What’s going on with that? That sounds like a big deal.

Thankfully, I also hadn’t talked to Neferet for the past month. She’d left for a winter retreat in Europe

Man, it’s convenient that Zoey’s war with the secretly-murderous head of the school she attends is on vacation for a few weeks.

Anyway, Zoey opens the mysterious extra gift, to find it is not a Christmas-themed present! She expresses her delight in the present, wondering who could have sent it, not knowing that everyone’s been passing around the card that came with it…

Oh, hell! It was from Heath. Better known as boyfriend no. 2.

Good thing the book reminded us Heath was better known as boyfriend no. 2, because as of the last book basically nobody knew that he was boyfriend no. 2.

Now, if you thought the Casts’ teenager-speak has been abysmal so far, brace yourself now. Because you’re about to get a very jarring reminder that as bad as the writing in this book is, Heath is on a whole other level.

Zo— HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I know how much you hate those lame birthmas presents that try to mush your b-day with Christmas, so I sent you something I know you’ll like. Hey! It doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas! Duh! […] I heart you! Heath

Who says “Duh” in writing?

Unfortunately for Zoey, everyone just realized she’s been pretending to be nice about their Christmas-themed presents. For some reason, Jack is more upset than anyone else about this. Probably because, as we were all reminded last chapter, the gays are a very sensitive people. Characterization!

“I like snow globes,” Jack said softly, looking like he was about to cry. “The snowy part makes me happy.”

“The snowy part makes me happy”? Is Jack eight years old?

Erik is pissed about the reminder that Heath knows Zoey so much better than anyone else. Shaunee, much like everyone reading this blog post right now, asks Zoey why she didn’t just tell anyone that she doesn’t like Christmas-themed birthday presents. Zoey apologies, then changes it to a non-apology, then, fuck it, throws in a MY BEST FRIEND IS DEAD.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m sorry if Heath’s note made you guys feel bad— but that’s not my fault. And I did tell someone that I don’t like it when people try to mush my birthday together with Christmas— I told Stevie Rae.”

sherlock awkward

She also leaves by telling everyone that she’s “supposed to meet my grandma at Starbucks”, which somehow manages to sound like the least believable thing in a book about vampires.



  1. Madeline Reply

    My birthday’s actually tomorrow! Hopefully it won’t be as moronic as Zoey’s!

  2. Madeline Reply

    Seriously, my mother’s birthday is actually pretty close to Christmas too, and everyone with a little common sense knows that getting her a Christmas themed birthday gift would be fucking ridiculous and idiotic. So I’m actually impressed that Zoey didn’t throw a Ja’ime King sized fit when she got all these moronic presents.

    Wow. Did I just defend Zoey Redbird? I need to go lie down.

  3. Bellomy Reply

    And I did tell someone that I don’t like it when people try to mush my birthday together with Christmas— I told Stevie Rae.”

    There’s a lot to love about Zoe’s little “Sorry-not-sorry” speech, and a lot to love about Zoe getting increasingly upset over her increasingly expensive gifts by her many friends, but I think that sentence is my favorite.

    First, it makes it sound like Stevie Rae had character development or was in any way a closer friend than anybody else in the book, which is, of course, untrue. Second, we’re supposed to believe that Zoe had some unrecorded conversation ONLY with Stevie Rae about her specific preference in birthday gifts, which is dumb, since Stevie Rae wasn’t any closer to her than any of her other friends.

    Third, it is completely and totally irrelevant to anything that’s going on. “I told Stevie Rae!” Well thanks a fucking lot, Zoe, because you telling Stevie Rae would have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to change the situation, since the problem has nothing to do with the gifts Stevie Rae got her.

    Zoe: The gift that keeps on giving.

    • matthewjulius Reply

      I think Zoey and Stevie Rae actually were closer than Zoey was to the others, to be fair. Although I might just think that because the twins still have no character.
      And I would totally believe this actually DID come up as a random aside once. Like it’s still dumb, but I could actually see that happening

      • Bellomy Reply

        The bigger point, in any case, is that it’s really another case of Zoe being a dick, since it has absolutely nothing to do with her friends’ completely justified anger.

        • matthewjulius Reply

          Oh, definitely, the strangest thing about these books by far is the mismatch between what an awful person Zoey is vs how often people tell her that she’s so wonderful

  4. Honey Reply

    Wait….so what was the gift from Heath???

    Also, this is so magical. Honestly, why would you ever think that lumping a birthday with a holiday is a good idea? And then having seasonal themed gifts. What? She couldn’t use any of this for most of the year. Her friends are ridiculous (except for her one true lurve who knows her the bestest).

    • matthewjulius Reply

      Oh haha it was a bracelet with seahorse charms I think? Basically it was not Christmas. Or “birthmas”, as Zoey keeps saying in this book and for some reason we haven’t especially pointed out

  5. Kristin Reply

    Am I the only person who sees a snowman and doesn’t automatically think of Christmas? Christmas tree? Yup. Santa? Yup. Snowman? Not so much.

    And who the hell would even make leather boots with Christmas trees on them??? Did everyone in the group shop from a lame catalog that came in the mail?

    • matthewjulius Reply

      RIGHT? I don’t think the problem is that her birthday is near Christmas. Clearly it’s that her friends all like gaudy shit.
      Also, I don’t know how I managed to write this post without mentioning my sister’s birthday is three days after Christmas and I have anecdotal evidence this entire scenario is not remotely a thing.

      • Kristin Reply

        Or her friends literally shopped for her that morning when everything good was gone and all the tacky shit was marked 75%off since Christmas is about over 😉

        My brother’s birthday is 6 days before Christmas. Other than a Christmas tree being in the house for his birthday parties that was it for Christmas stuff.

    • matthewjulius Reply

      Ah yep! I’ve been following dystopian ya for a while and retweet it on the bbgt twitter sometimes. Haven’t seen the others though! Many thanks for sharing 😀

    • Dana Reply

      I’ve never seen the Typical YA Heroine one!

      I still think my favorite Twitter parody account is Guy in Your MFA (https://twitter.com/guyinyourmfa). While it’s not exactly in the same vein as the ones you listed, it’s just so … perfect.

  6. bookbaron Reply

    I had a good friend who was born on xmas eve. I never gave her xmas eve themed presents. Hell, I don’t think I gave out xmas themed presents on Xmas. Certainly not to the friends I really cared about. This just screams to me that these friends of hers had no idea what to give her for her birthday and thought… Well maybe she’d like something Xmas themed! By that logic, my mom would want everything done up with spooky pumpkins and bats, I would want my presents in an assortment of American flags, and my dad would want nothing but four leaf clovers and leprechauns. I don’t understand her friends.

  7. Lougoober Reply

    This whole post reminded me of a line from the show “Pushing Daisies.” It’s something like “Why do people give each other Christmas sweaters as gifts for Christmas? It’s pointless. You can only wear the sweater that one day and you have to wait 11 months to wear it again.”

    I think you’re right about Zoey’s friends just having awful taste, because I rarely get Christmas-themed gifts on actual Christmas, let alone on “birthmas”. And it seems like Christmas-themed boots would be really difficult to find, too. And why would you give a teenage girl you just met a snowglobe for her birthday, anyway? I guess they wanted the gifts to be more personal, but they probably could’ve just gotten her Starbucks and American Eagle gift cards. Or a 12-pack of brown pop and a box of Count Chocula.

    Also, geez, Jack. I don’t know if it was just supposed to be his character, or if the Casts just think gays really are ridiculous oversensitive, but he comes off like a really emotional 10 year old girl for pretty much the whole series.

    The “I hope one of the twins gets offed next” part made me laugh for spoiler-related reasons (trying really hard not to spoil, but I hope I didn’t just make this one of those “you made it a spoiler by mentioning there was a spoiler” things – I guess I’ll just say that neither of them is offed next). Also I laughed because it was funny on its own. Now I must post this comment or I’m sure I’ll just spoil all of what I was laughing at with that line.

    • Dana Reply

      In what planet does the model who depicts Zoey look sixteen-years-old?

      • Honey Reply

        Oh, this made my daaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

        Dana – Oh my god, you’re so right!


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