House of Night, Chosen, Chapter 13:
Zoey is disappointed with the food options in Aphrodite’s house because she’s just a regular Joe that wants a “decent can of pop.”
I’d already noticed that the fridge had a six-pack of Perrier, a couple of bottles of white wine, and a few bricks of that expensive imported cheese that smells like feet. There were some packages of butcher-paper-wrapped meat and fish in the freezer and ice cubes, but that was it. The cupboards had a bunch of stuff in them, but it was all rich-people food. You know, imported tins offish that still have their heads on, smoked oysters (eesh), other strange meat and pickled stuff, andlong boxes of something called water crackers. There was not one can of decent pop.
“We’re gonna have to go to the grocery store,” I said.
“If you can keep Stinky locked back in the bedroom, all you have to do is get into my parents’ on-line account with Petty’s Foods. Click what you want from the store. They’ll deliver and charge it to my parents.”
“Won’t they freak when they see the bill?”
“They won’t even notice,” she said. “The bank pays it directly. It’s no big deal.”
“Really?” I was amazed people actually lived like that. “You guys are rich.”
It would be hilarious if the bank froze the account because Zoey’s charges were so suspicious. “Who’s buying the off-brand soda and non stinky cheese? This is definitely fraud!” [Matthew says: Actually when you stop to think about it, why is any of this food in a building that nobody currently lives in anyway? Are Aphrodite’s parents consciously thinking, “Aw geez, we’re running low on stinky cheese in that uninhabited residence on our property! Better get more!”]
Stevie Rae returns from her shower, and Zoey acts like this was a massive step in the right direction. As though a shower is one of the biggest barriers the undead face to being alive again.
From this point on, for the whole fucking chapter, Aphrodite and Stevie Rae are at each other’s throats (sometimes literally.) It’s the usual bull crap we’ve seen a million times where a character who once hated another character is forced to work in close proximity with her and accept that she’s part of the team now. As I pretty much always say on here, I absolutely do not mind this scenario when it’s done well. Watching two characters that started out hating each other but then become best friends sometimes makes me get super emotional. This is not one of those stories.
“You smell better,” Aphrodite said.
I glared at her.
“What? That was nice.”
I sighed and shot her an obvious you’re not helping look. “Okay, how about we talk about coming up with a plan?” I meant it to be a rhetorical question, but Aphrodite spoke up right away.
“What exactly are we planning about? I mean, I know Stevie Rae has, uh, unique issues, but I’m not sure what you think can be done about them. She’s dead. Or undead dead.” She glanced a Stevie Rae.“Okay, I’m not actually trying to be mean, but—”
“It’s not mean. It’s just the truth.” Stevie Rae interrupted her. “But don’t pretend that you care about my feelings now any more than you did before I died.”
“I was trying to be nice,” Aphrodite snapped, sounding the opposite of nice.
“Try harder,” I said.
I know we’re supposed to like Aphrodite at this point, but I feel like suddenly she’s just this snarky, caricature of a character that we’re supposed to find amusing when in the past she was supposed to be so so awful to the point where none of these other characters can accept her help. She walks up to the gang and the twins basically just start shouting, “HATEFUL HAG” at her (which is an insult no one would ever seriously shout repeatedly at another person.)
I really think we need to see more evidence of this past, horrible Aphrodite, because mostly all we’ve seen is this version of her. Was she even that bad in the first book? Now the Casts are trying to write a hilariously mean version of Aphrodite without any convincing character development. Ha ha look at Zoey trying to teach Aphrodite how to be friendlier! It’s so cute! Because Nyx declared it so!
The thing is, even though I find Aphrodite’s abrupt transformation to be predictable, I do enjoy her moments with Zoey. It’s the moments with her and Stevie Rae bickering that are driving me crazy. I can’t even remember witnessing any specific animosity between Stevie Rae and Aphrodite except the normal shade Aphrodite threw at all of Zoey’s annoying friends. If she had done specifically horrible things to Stevie Rae I could maybe buy this.
But who cares what I think? There are facts to reiterate!
“First, Stevie Rae doesn’t have to live around adult vamps anymore, so that means that she has completed a Change.” Aphrodite started to open her mouth and I hurried on. “Second, she has to have blood, even more often than normal adult vamps.” I looked from Stevie Rae to Aphrodite. “Do either of the two of you know if adult vamps go crazy if they don’t drink blood regularly?”
“In Advanced Vampyre Soc we’ve learned that adults need to drink blood regularly to stay healthy.That’s mind and body.” Aphrodite shrugged. “Neferet is the prof for the class, and she’s never said anything about vamps going crazy if they don’t drink. But that might be one of the things they tell us only after we’ve made the Change.”
I feel like if Neferet didn’t talk about it, it’s probably the exact piece of information Zoey and Aphrodite need. Nyx will probably let them know via Zoey’s ‘gut’ soon enough.
The girls talk more about how Stevie Rae needs human blood, that she needs to be invited in by someone living in a household, and finally she reveals that she can make humans do what she wants them to do. I get all my vampire lore mixed up – some sparkle, some have souls, some have no souls, some can walk in the sun if they wear magical rings, some can have weird hybrid babies with humans, etc – but this is all sounding like the vampires from True Blood to me.
Not only is Aphrodite now contractually obligated to say something rude-cute-funny to Stevie Rae in every conversation, she also has to say something sexual to make Zoey uncomfortable now:
Aphrodite raised an eyebrow. “You’ve Imprinted with your human boyfriend. How tough was it for you to persuade him to let you have a little suck.” She paused, smiling wickedly. “Of his blood, I mean.”
So now she’s sort of Sawyer from Lost meets Samantha from Sex and the City meets Damon from Vampire Diaries.
Aphrodite and Stevie Rae quickly determine that Stevie Rae is soulless, and as usual their logic is infallible:
I couldn’t even stand to think that what she was saying might be possible, and I opened my mouth to argue with her, but Aphrodite was quicker.
“That makes sense. It’s why you can’t come inside a living person’s home without being invited. It’s also probably why you’ll burn up if the sun hits you. No soul—no standing against the light.”
“How did you know about that?” Stevie Rae asked.
“I’m vision girl, remember?
Absolutely none of this justification is convincing except the vision thing, because you just can’t argue with that because all of her other visions have been right. However, saying it makes sense for someone to need to be invited into a home because they have no soul is like saying I don’t have a pet frog, so I can’t go into a Burger King without permission. Don’t get me started on how a soul is what protects you from the sunlight. That’s complete nonsense.
This revelation leads to Stevie Rae and Aphrodite arguing (of course), Stevie Rae attacking Aphrodite, Zoey using the “because Nyx” explanation a lot, and Aphrodite to literally spelling out her motivations.
Stevie Rae narrowed her eyes at Aphrodite, who was still rubbing her neck and sucking air. “I still want to know why she’d bother to help us. She’s never liked any of us. She’s a liar and a user and a total bitch.”
“Atonement,” Aphrodite managed to gasp.
“What?” Stevie Rae said.
Aphrodite glared at her. Her voice was raspy, but she was definitely regaining her breath and had gone from being scared to being pissed. “What’s wrong? Is the word too big for you? A-T-O-N-E-M-E-N-T.” She spelled it. “It means I have to make up for something I’ve done. A lot of somethings, actually. So I have to do what I didn’t do before—which is to follow Nyx’s will.” She paused and cleared her throat, grimacing in pain. “No, I don’t like it any better than you do. And, just by the by,you still smell bad and your country-ass clothes are stupid.”
To be fair, I am glad Stevie Rae finally asked Aphrodite why she’s helping, because you’d think she’d realize that if Aphrodite was really this awful, terrible person, there’d have to be a good reason she was suddenly going out of her way to help them out. However, being a kind of mean teenage girl isn’t really the kind of thing you have to spend your life atoning for unless you really ruined some lives, and I’ve yet to see evidence Aphrodite has done so. But “because Nyx”, so who cares?
Zoey also explains that she can’t exactly ask the idiot squad for help because Neferet could easily read their feeble minds given nothing is really going on in any of them, and that Neferet can’t read Aphrodite’s mind because Nyx.
Aphrodite and Stevie Rae descend into another useless argument:
“Okay, look,” I said. “We need to have some kind of truce between the three of us. I cannot be afraid if I turn my head the two of you are going to be trying to kill each other.”
“She couldn’t kill me,” Stevie Rae said, curling her lip unattractively.
“Because you’re already dead or because I don’t want to get close enough to your stinkiness to kick your bony ass?” Aphrodite asked in a sickeningly sweet voice.
“This is exactly what I mean!” I shouted. “Stop it! If we can’t get along, how in the hell can we expect to figure out a way to stand up to Neferet and fix what’s happened to Stevie Rae?”
Man, Zoey sure has her work cut out for her with these two! I wonder what she could possible do to unite them:
“We have to stand up to Neferet?” Aphrodite said.
“Why do we have to stand up to her?” Stevie Rae said.
“Because she’s fucking evil!” I yelled.“You said fuck,” Stevie Rae said.“Yeah, and you didn’t get struck by lightning or melt or anyfuckingthing like that,” Aphrodite saidgleefully.“That didn’t even look right coming out of your mouth, Z,” Stevie Rae said.
I couldn’t help smiling at Stevie Rae. She suddenly looked and sounded so much like herself that I felt a huge rush of hope. She was still in there. I just had to figure out a way to get her to be in touchwith—“That’s it!” I sat forward excitedly.“You cussing is it? I don’t think so, Z. It’s really just not you,” Stevie Rae said.“I think you were right when you said your soul was missing, Stevie Rae. Or at least part of it’s missing.”“You’re sounding like that’s a good thing, which I totally don’t get,” Aphrodite said.“I hate to agree with her, but yeah, why is my missing soul a good thing?” Stevie Rae said.“Because that’s how we fix you!” They just stared at me with blank, dopey looks. I rolled my eyes. “All we have to do is figure out how to get your soul back into you all in one piece and you’ll be whole. You might not be exactly like you used to be. Clearly, you’ve completed a Change that’s not exactly normal.”“Clearly,” Aphrodite mumbled.“But with a healed soul you get your humanity back—you get yourself back. And that’s really what’s most important. All this other stuff,” I made an abstract gesture at her. “You know, your weird eyes and the whole drink-blood-or-you-go-crazy issue, all that stuff can be dealt with if you’re really you again.”
“Go on. I’ll see you later,” Stevie Rae said. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m already dead. What more can go wrong?”“She has a point,” Aphrodite said.“Okay, well. See ya,” I said. I didn’t want to say I thought she had a point, too. That seemed to beasking for trouble. I mean, she was undead, and that was pretty awful. But there were other things that could go wrong, too. The thought made a creepy chill go up my spine, which, sadly, I ignored and kept blundering on into my future. Too bad I didn’t have any idea of the horror I was blundering blindly into.
So what do you guys make of the dynamic between Zoey and Stevie Rae? Is anyone as annoyed as I am by it?