So last weekend I went to the Young Adult Literature Weekend in London, which was awesome. During the panel on feminism, the discussion turned to the issue of likeable female characters, which I know is something Matt has touched on a lot in the past, and it’s sparked a few discussions between us. One of the panelists pointed out that real people make mistakes, so we should stop being so hard on female characters that make mistakes, and I agree 100%. However, I still stand behind the fact that I think Zoey is terrible. There are plenty of female characters I love who, yeah, make mistakes I think are stupid, but I still love the characters.
I’ll try not to get too far into this, but Grey’s Anatomy does female characters really well. For instance, Meredith Grey is one of the loves of my fictional life, but she is definitely not always likeable. She’s made stupid decisions in the past. She can be so fucking prickly and pushes people away and can be really cold and abrasive and rude to people. But just like, sometimes when she smiles! Or when she’s with her best friends! BUT I FUCKING LOVE HER.
I may do a longer post on this in the future because I have a lot of thoughts, but in summary, it’s okay to not like all female characters. Also, if I’m going to invest a lot of time and energy into following a character around on their journey, I kind of do want to like them. I’m not saying they have to fit a cookie-cutter mould of what a character should be and always make the right decisions, but there should be something about them that is likeable. I feel no such connection to Zoey.
Chosen Chapter 24
After appearing from behind a tree, Erik confronts Zoey about that time she cheated on him with Loren in a public venue and Erik walked in on them. Both parties come away looking absolutely terrible in this situation. Even though it was certainly to be expected that Zoey would look bad, I hadn’t prepared myself for just how ridiculous her justifications are for doing this to Erik.
“I’m so sorry Erik!” I managed to blurt. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t want you to find out like that.”
“Yeah,” he said coldly. “Finding out my girlfriend, who has been playing oh-so-innocent with me, is really a slut would have been no problem if you’d, I don’t know, advertised it in the school paper. Yeah, that would have been way better.”
I get that Erik is hurting, but I didn’t realize he had this kind of poison inside him. We got hints of his meanness in earlier chapters, sure, but I don’t think genuinely nice people, even in moments of extreme duress, would say weird and creepy things about advertising slutty behaviour in a school newspaper.
Can you imagine if Zoey had done something so strange? He certainly wouldn’t have been like, “Sure, this is bad, but at least I didn’t walk in on you having sex with a professor.”
I flinched at his hateful tone. “I’m not a slut.”
“Looked like you were doing a good imitation of one. And I knew it!” he yelled. “I knew there was something going on between you two! But I was so damn stupid I believed you when you said it wasn’t true.” His laugh was completely humorless. “God, I’m an idiot.”
“Erik, we didn’t mean for this to happen, but Loren and I are in love. We tried to stay away from each other, but we just couldn’t.”
Zoey, no, don’t say these things! Do you honestly think that will make this situation better for anyone involved? “OH well, if your love is true, than you aren’t a slut.” Erik never in a million years said. Sure, I guess she is trying to make sense of this crazy, mixed up world for both of them, but she could have broken up with Erik before doing anything with Loren. AND in the next breath, she and Erik both talk about how they’d been falling in love with each other. I get the feeling that if Erik hadn’t walked in on Zoey and Loren, she would have just kept finding reasons to justify staying with both of them.
“You have got to be kidding! You actually believe that asshole loves you?”
“He does love me.”
Erik shook his head and laughed humorlessly again. “If you believe that, then you’re stupider than Iam. He’s using you, Zoey. There’s only one thing a guy like him wants from a girl like you, and he got it. When he’s had enough of it, he’ll dump you and move on.”
I may not like Erik or agree with his methods, but he has a point here about Loren’s intentions. I don’t think he’s right about everything, like Loren’s motivations, but I think he’s spot on that Loren doesn’t love Zoey. I say that like I’m not like two books ahead at this point, but I had that same thought when I read this the first time, so it’s acceptable I keep it in here.
I know I should be focussed on more of the joke making and less of the concern over the way Erik has handled himself, but it’s really riled me up.
My stomach twisted. I felt like his words were stabbing me in the heart. “I thought I was falling in love with you, too,” I said softly, blinking my eyes hard to keep from crying.
“Bullshit!” he yelled. He sounded mean even though I could see tears filling his eyes. “Stop playing games with me. And you think Aphrodite is a hateful bitch? You make her look like a fucking angel!“
He started to back away from me. “Erik, wait. I don’t want it to end like this between us,” I said,feeling tears spill over and fall down my cheeks.
“Stop crying! This is what you wanted. This is what you and Blake planned.”
Think, Erik, think. Why would ZOEY have planned on you to walk in on this? It seems like something Loren might have planned given he’s the worst.
Erik runs away into the night where he belongs. I’VE CHANGED!!!!!!
Distraught, Zoey goes to talk to Loren. She knows he can make things right:
As I approached it I could see that the door was cracked and I heard Loren’s voice trickle out from inside. He was laughing. The sound brushed against my skin, washing through the pain and sadness the scene with Erik had caused. I’d been right to come to him. I could already almost feel his arms aroundme. Loren would hold me and call me “love” and “baby” and tell me that everything would be all right.
It’s funny how to one person (me) those could be the most repulsive things Loren could say, but to someone else (Zoey) they could be a great comfort. You know, one man’s trash.
But there is no “love” or “baby” to be said here.
Then she laughed, low and musical and seductive, and my world stopped.
It was Neferet.
Neferet re-iterates her whole master plan with Loren, which is a totally natural thing to do during foreplay/with the door open (so obviously she knows Zoey is there, right, and this is all for her benefit?)
“You’ve done well, my darling. Now I know what she knows, and everything is coming togetherperfectly. It will be a simple thing to continue to isolate her. I just hope the part you have to play isn’ttoo unpleasant for you.” Neferet’s voice was teasing, but there was an edge of hardness to it.“
She’s easy to lead around. A shiny present here, a pretty compliment there, and you have true loveand a popped cherry sacrificed to the god of deception and hormones.” Loren laughed again. “Young girls are so ridiculous—so predictably easy.”
He’s not wrong, Zoey did not ask any of the right questions about this situation.
Neferet continues to talk to Loren about keeping Zoey busy and making sure she stays away from her friends. She also calls Loren out for imprinting on Zoey, which was apparently off-script. Wrong move, Loren.
“I guess I underestimated my acting abilities. I’m just relieved that there’s nothing real between us—saves me from the messy emotions and bond that would go with a true Imprinting.” He laughed. “Like the one she had with that human boy. He must have experienced some nasty pain when that was broken. Weird that she was able to Imprint so fully with him before she’s Changed.”
Thank for conveniently explaining all that in such natural dialogue, Loren. So now we know that when Zoey inevitably breaks this disastrously gross imprint, it won’t be totally horrible for both of them. Also, always a good time to slip in yet another, “ZOEY’S NOT LIKE OTHER FLEDGLINGS” comment.
“More proof of her power!” Neferet snapped. “Even though she has been ridiculously easy to leadastray for a Chosen One. And don’t pretend to complain that she Imprinted with you. You and I both know it just made the sex more pleasurable for you.”
Damn, the truth comes out. You have to wonder, why is Neferet with this guy? She’s evil, but she could definitely do better.
“Well, I can tell you that it was damned inconvenient that you sent the gallant Erik to find his little girlfriend so soon. Couldn’t you have given me a few more minutes to finish up?”
Damn, more truths come out. Maybe Erik realized it was pretty weird that he stumbled on Loren and Zoey, and that’s why he accused it of being their plan? If so, kudos to him for getting halfway there. Again, though, it seems pretty weird he’d think Zoey would have been part of that planning process.
The pillow talk continues to be terrible:
Neferet easily pulled away from him, but the gesture was more teasing than mad. “I’m not angry. I’m pleased. Your Imprint breaking the bond with the human boy has left Zoey even more alone. And it’s not like your Imprint with the chit is permanent. It’ll dissolve when she Changes, or dies,” she finished with a mean little laugh. “But would you rather it didn’t dissolve? Perhaps you’ve decided you prefer youth and naïveté to me?”
“Never, love! I’ll never want anyone like I want you,” Loren said. “Let me show you, baby. Let me show you.” He moved quickly to the end of the bed and took her into his arms. I watched his hands roam down her body, a lot like he’d touched me not long before.
I’ve learned so much about Imprinting from Neferet and Loren’s sexual encounter. Eternal gratitude.
Neferet faces the door, while she and Loren start to get it on, and she sees Zoey. Zoey’s got to get the hell out of there, so she flees into the night. Zoey is crying and falling apart, but luckily Aphrodite shows up to be amazing. She is literally wandering around with Corona and mangos. I love her.
Of course, Zoey tries to push Aphrodite away, so she leaves (but you just know she’s not actually abandoning Zoey, so don’t judge her). Then Darius, one of the Sons of Erebus shows up. I only mention this because he becomes important later, and he is wonderful. REMEMBER DARIUS AND HIS AWESOMENESS FOREVER.
He doesn’t say anything too significant here, he’s really kind to Zoey, and explains some stuff about places of power:
Darius nodded slowly. “It is a place of power. I am not surprised you were drawn here.”
I blinked and looked around. And then—ohmygod— realized exactly where I was. “This is the east wall near the trapdoor.”
“Yes, Priestess, it is. Even the barbaric humans sensed its power enough so that they left Professor Nolan’s body here.” He motioned over his shoulder just outside the wall to the place Aphrodite and I had found Professor Nolan. It was also where I’d found Nala (or rather, where she’d found me), where I’d cast my first circle, had my first glimpse of what would turn out to be the undead dead kids, and where I’d called on the elements and Nyx to break through the memory block Neferet had placed on my mind.
Zoey asks for some privacy to pray, and Darius kindly warns her that if she leaves the perimeter, Sons of Erebus will basically swarm the area thanks to the spell Neferet cast on the place. After Darius leaves, Zoey’s cat shows up because I guess everyone is just hanging out in this one area tonight.
If Erik really was meant to be a good guy through and through, I think he should have been written very angrily, yes, but with more of a focus on the lies and Zoey being careless with his feelings. It seems like he was just really mad she wouldn’t have sex with him. What did all of you think about this? Am I being too hard on Erik given the circumstances?
More importantly, what did you think of the Neferet/Loren plot? I do like that for once the simple answer wasn’t just, “Zoey gets all the boys!” I also like that it wasn’t until Zoey slept with Loren that I started going, “This guy is being too creepy, something is up, I think he’s working with Neferet.”