Perhaps you remember that Stevie Rae died? Perhaps you remember that she is undead? Now let’s pretend you totally forgot about both of those things, and also keep forgetting every paragraph. That is basically this chapter.
After the disastrous unplanned meeting with Zoey, her mom, and her anti-vampyre religious zealot husband, Zoey and her grandma go try to enjoy the rest of Zoey’s birthday at another restaurant.
[I had] a huge, gooey slice of devil’s food cake. (Yes, we enjoyed the irony.)
Well, I guess it’s time to sing the “Coincidence and irony are not the same thing” song.
Zoey’s grandma lays down some shit.
“Your mom’s a weak woman who can only find her identity through a man,” she said as she sipped her red wine.
True, but damn, that’s harsh. Can we get more Grandma Redbird channeling her inner Lucille Bluth?
Unfortunately, Grandma stops being caustically critical about the story she’s in (eg: fun) and instead gives her granddaughter some friendly, old person advice about the men she’s two-timing (eg: not fun. Also weird).
“You know, you’re going to have to straighten out this boyfriend issue. Heath and Erik are only going to put up with each other for about this long.” She held up her fingers, measuring out roughly an inch’s worth of “this long.”
Pro Writing Tip: Don’t feel the need to have your characters communicate in a way that doesn’t immediately translate in a text-based medium.
Zoey assures her grandma that she hasn’t been able to do anything yet since Heath was in the hospital and now on vacation, and reminds the reader that she had to tell everyone a lie about what she saved him from. And also that Stevie Rae is dead.
I’d saved him from a group of creatures that my best friend, the undead Stevie Rae, had been (and probably still was) leader of. But I couldn’t tell Grandma that. I couldn’t tell anyone that, because [if Neferet] reads his or her mind— we’re all in a lot of trouble.
Talk about stress.
Zoey leaves, but instead of going back to the House of Night, drives around downtown Tulsa looking for Stevie Rae. By the way, Stevie Rae is dead.
For the past month every night I could make a lame excuse or sneak out by myself, I’d been haunting the streets of downtown Tulsa. Haunting . . . I snorted to myself. That was an excellent word to use for me searching for my best friend, Stevie Rae, who had died a month ago, and then become undead.
Yes, it was as weird as it sounded.
We… we know it’s weird? Because the exact same thing was described less than a page ago? I shit you not, you guys, there are two explanations that Stevie Rae is undead, within no more than a page of each other.
But maybe you still aren’t sure that the problem is that Stevie Rae is undead. Good news! On the next page:
The police thought that then I’d rescued a pretty messed-up Heath from a human serial killer.
What had I really discovered?
My undead best friend and her disgusting minions.
And when Zoey isn’t explaining the same thing three times, sometimes she just gives up on trying to explain things at all.
Okay, so everyone knew we could die. What everyone didn’t know was that the last three fledglings who had died had resurrected, or come alive again, or . . . hell!
I get that she’s a teenager and flustered, but this is the writer equivalent of throwing something at someone and running away from them.
Zoey eventually also reminds the reader that Neferet is the cause of all the undead students and she doesn’t think all of Stevie Rae’s humanity is gone. The book then comes up with the worst deus ex machina ever to have Zoey find Stevie Rae.
the words roll down your window kept drifting around and around my mind, I thought they were the lyrics to a song on the radio. But my radio wasn’t on, and the words had no music with them— plus, they were inside my head and not inside my radio.
There had to be like seven million better ways to write that paragraph. Zoey smells the undead and follows the scent, and speaking of things that there had to be better ways to write, this is how the Casts choose to describe Zoey’s searching process:
sniffing like a retarded dog
In contrast, here’s how the Casts describe Zoey encountering Stevie Rae:
I realized that Stevie Rae wasn’t digging through the trash, she was biting a street person on the neck!
Cast 1: Hey, how should we describe the hobo that Stevie Rae’s eating?
Cast 2: Well, we can’t say “hobo”. That might cause offense.
Cast 1: Oh, good call. Now how do we describe Zoey sniffing around for Stevie Rae?
Cast 2: How about “like a retarded dog”?
(The Casts high five)
Zoey explains just how bad the situation is.
I was too disgusted to be scared or even freaked out. Plus, I’d just had a really terrible birthday
The gravitas, you guys.
Zoey demonstrates concern for her friend and the state she’s in. Lol just kidding, Zoey’s the judgmental asshole she always is:
“And, please, you smell really bad. Are there no showers in Creepy Undead Land?”
Stevie Rae frowned, which was actually an improvement, because then her lips covered her teeth. “Go away, Zoey,” she said.
Man, even Stevie Rae just wants Zoey to fuck off. What’s weird is that this is the most convincing thing the Casts will ever write that will convince me that maybe she hasn’t totally lost her humanity.
Zoey tries to talk Stevie Rae out of killing the homeless person and sucking her blood. Stevie Rae points out that Zoey drinks Heath’s blood. Zoey continues to go out of her way to offend everybody.
“I do not want to bite that person. I don’t even know where she’s been.” I gave the poor, wide-eyed, matted-hair matted-hair woman a weak smile. “Uh, no offense, ma’am.”
BUT WE GOTTA SAY “STREET PERSON” LEST WE BEREAVE THEM OF THEIR DIGNITY.
Zoey uses her magic wind powers to scoop up the victim and carry her away from Stevie Rae. Zoey begins filling this chapter’s “Zoey makes unfounded assumptions about another person’s experience” quota.
“I’ve been practicing. It’s really just concentration and control. You’d know that if you’d been practicing, too.”
How does she know that? How does she just know that Stevie Rae’s powers still work like this now that she’s undead?
This back and forth goes on for a long time. Speaking of making assumptions, I’m just gonna throw some dialogue in here… and we’re gonna see what it reminds us of… after the last chapter, where Zoey’s stepdad refused to accept Zoey’s condition, that it’s out of her control anyway, and that his entire rationale for opposing it is based on beliefs that aren’t exactly founded on anything.
What I am saying of is that it reminds me of that.
“It’s gone. Whatever I once had died with the part of me that was human. You need to accept it and move on. I have.”
“I’ll never accept it. […] I’m not going to move on.” […]
“There’s really no point.”
“Can you please let me decide that for myself?”
Incidentally, Zoey finding her stepdad’s behavior deplorable and then doing a very similar thing without being aware of it is ironic. In case you’re keeping score.
“And what are you wearing?” I pointed at the sweat pants and oversized shirt that were covered by a long, nastily stained black trench coat like the ones those freaky goth kids like to wear even when it’s a hundred degrees outside.
Weird though it may be that Zoey, an actual vampyre, is mocking goths, isn’t it sort of way weirder that the undead kids are acquiring trench coat uniforms somehow?
Zoey finally appeals to Stevie Rae’s deeply buried humanity and gets her to promise to meet her tomorrow. By promising her Lucky Charms, an ironed shirt, and cowboy boots. These are the points around which the narrative arc turn, you guys.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: This is a long and super off-topic one, but it’s Friday and Ariel hasn’t told me I can’t do shit like this, so LET’S GO. Last weekend my girlfriend and I were at a wine bar and played a game about MUSIC and BANDS, and went back and forth with a few questions that prompted some interesting discussion and thinking and soul searching. What are your thoughts?
- If you could see any band/musician perform live, at any point in their career, who would you see? And when? You are not allowed to say The Beatles.
- If you could see any band/musician perform live, BUT, unlike the first question, this would be some hypothetical reunion as they would be today (so everyone still has to be alive, everyone is as old/drugged out/whatever as they are right now), who would you see?
I went with Talking Heads (right after Speaking In Tongues) for the first one and Black Sabbath for the second one. But maybe that was stupid and I should have flipped it around? I DON’T KNOW. WE MADE A HARD GAME. What about you guys?