Zoey’s Friends Turn on Her Immediately: Chosen Chapter 26

eli gold the good wife says, 'what?'

When we last left off, Erik “I’VE CHANGED” Night had returned from running off into the darkness, despairing over Zoey’s betrayal, to reveal all of Zoey’s discretions. Also, Stevie Rae showed up because for some reason Neferet texted her from Zoey’s phone? You may hate her, but Neferet really is a very skilled, evil mastermind. She knew just when Erik would confront Zoey and her pals AND that Stevie Rae would show up just as Zoey was about to reveal the truth to them anyway.

House of Night, Chosen, Chapter 26:

Damien and the twins are currently hugging Stevie Rae, and she insists they put an end to this immediately. Some might argue this is because of her lack of humanity, but I argue it’s because of her growing realization that these people are terrible.

Beloved friends that they are, the gang tells Stevie Rae that she smells but that they don’t care. Wow, that is a pretty bad way to greet your not dead dead undead friend. The way to convince someone you don’t care how bad they smell is by pointing out how bad they smell.

“Hey, nerd herd members who are still alive,” Aphrodite called from where she’d retreated to under the big oak tree. “I suggest you step away from the undead dead kid. She bites.”

“You bite!” Shaunee snapped.

“Bitch!” Erin said.

“She’s telling you the truth,” Stevie Rae said. Then she looked from Damien and the Twins to me.“Explain it to them.

Aphrodite hasn’t done anything awful in…wait, what did she even do that was so awful at the beginning? Basically, my point is this bickering is not entertaining anymore, and the fact that I’m now a couple books ahead and their dynamic is exactly the same annoys me more than people who sit next to you on the bus when every other seat is empty. The Casts clearly came up with “nerd herd” together one night and then never had the heart to let it go.

Zoey gets everyone up to speed on the Stevie Rae sitch. She’s lacking humanity but holding on, and it’s up to the gang to heal her!

The Twins and Damien were quiet for what seemed like a long time. And then Damien said,“You’ve known about this for a month and you haven’t said anything to any of us?”

“You let us think that Stevie Rae was dead,” Shaunee said.

“You acted like you thought she was dead, too,” Erin said.

“Morons! She couldn’t tell you. You have no idea what kind of forces are at work here,” Aphrodite said.

To an extent, I do understand that Zoey’s friends have just been given a lot of shocking information, and it makes sense that they’d be mad that they were led to believe Stevie Rae was actually dead. However, if Aphrodite immediately chimed in and said there was something else going on, I might try to figure out what that was. Instead, they all just turn on Zoey immediately.

“I don’t care what Aphrodite said. We’re your friends. Your best friends. You should have told us,”Damien said.

“Extenuating circumstances?” Erin said. “Seems Aphrodite is suddenly a part of those circumstances.”

“Were there extenuating circumstances when you kept Loren a secret?” Shaunee said. Her voice was guarded. Her dark eyes narrowed at me warily.

Shaunee, you are being really harsh. FAIR ENOUGH if you are mad about the Stevie Rae stuff, but it’s pretty obvious why Zoey would keep the Loren stuff a secret, and it also has nothing to do with what’s happening right now. Shaunee. Do you remember the time Zoey asked you to keep it a secret that she was going to break up with Heath, and you and Erin immediately told Erik? YOU ARE NOT ALL THAT TRUSTWORTHY.

“How are we supposed to trust you if you keep things from us?” As usual, Damien summed up everyone’s feelings in one simple sentence.

Serious question – when has this ever happened before? At this point, the Casts could have written, “As usual, Damien was drinking a box of chocolate milk while he was speaking.” And I would be forced to just go along with it.

The twins and Damien agree that they’ll help heal Stevie Rae, but they don’t trust Zoey anymore. They sure are quick to turn on a beloved friend without even trying to find out why she would have kept these things from them. I have been sat here for about ten minutes trying to think back to when I was their age and how I or people I knew would have reacted in a similar, but less vampyre-y situation. I just don’t know. I really would have thought that Stevie Rae’s appearance would have clued them up that crazy things are going on, but I suppose tensions are running high.

It’s time to cast the circle to save Stevie Rae, but,

“We don’t have any candles,” Damien said.

“I can run and get some,” Jack said. He didn’t even look at me, but spoke directly to Damien.

I completely forgot Jack was still here. Why does he feel betrayed by Zoey?

“No. We don’t have time for that,” I said. “We don’t need candles. We have the ability to manifestthe elements. Candles are just ceremonial.” I paused and added, “But I think you should probably go,Jack. I’m not sure what all’s going to happen and I don’t want to take a chance you might get hurt.”

“O-okay,” he stuttered. He put his hands in his pockets and walked slowly away.

“Looks like tonight we do away with ceremony,” Damien said, giving me a hard look.

“Yeah, tonight we do away with a lot of things.” Shaunee was watching me, but it felt like her eyes were those of a stranger. Erin nodded in silent but complete agreement with her.

This is so extreme. It really makes me question the strength of their supposed best-friendship. Damien is portrayed as this empathetic, rational person, and I would have thought that he at least might be interested in finding out what was actually going on. The twins are completely useless. And Jack is apparently still a character in this series.

CIRCLE TIME FOR REAL MINUS JACK!

Stevie Rae is angry that Aphrodite is standing in for Earth, but Zoey tells her to suck it up. All does not go well, though:

“No!” The word was an almost unrecognizable snarl of rage and despair. “She can’t be earth! I’m earth! It’s all that’s left of me! I won’t let her take it away!”

With blinding swiftness, Stevie Rae hurled herself on Aphrodite.

“No! Stevie Rae, stop it!” I cried, trying to pull Stevie Rae off her, but it was like trying to move a marble column. She was too strong. Aphrodite had been right. Stevie Rae wasn’t human or fledgling or vampyre. She was something more—and that more meant more dangerous. She was holding Aphrodite in an ugly parody of an embrace. I saw the sharp glint of her fangs and then Aphrodite screamed as Stevie Rae buried her teeth into her neck.

“Help me get her off!” I yelled, looking desperately at Damien and the Twins as I kept trying to pull Stevie Rae from Aphrodite.

“I can’t!” Damien cried. “I can’t move.”

“We can’t either!” Shaunee said.

The three of them had been rooted into place by their elements. Damien was being pressed to the ground by a furious wind. Shaunee was surrounded by a cage of fire. Erin was suddenly encased in a pool of bottomless water.

That sounds hilarious. Not the biting bit, but I want to see what it looks like that a furious wind is pressing Damien to the ground? And how is the pool of water bottomless? I hope a really stylish pool just appeared out of thin air to keep Erin in place. The cage of fire makes sense.

Damien tells Zoey she has to close the circle, so as usual magical words come to her, and she does some magical things, and then:

Now it was Aphrodite who was clutching Stevie Rae and forcing her to keep drinking from the wound on her neck. Stevie Rae wasstill drinking her blood, but she was struggling to stop—trying to pull away.

I rushed forward to try to separate them again, but when I hit the bubble of power it was like walking into a glass door. I couldn’t get through it, and I had no idea how to open it.

“Aphrodite! Let her go! She’s trying to stop before she kills you!” I cried.

Aphrodite’s eyes met mine. Her lips didn’t move, but I heard her voice clearly inside my head. No. This is how I make up for everything I caused. This time it’s me who was Chosen. Remember, I made this sacrifice freely.

eli gold the good wife says, 'what?'

Seriously, what did Aphrodite do that was so bad? I know you shouldn’t bully people and be mean to them, but I think a sincere apology is a good first step towards making amends.

The bubble of power (NOT MY WORDS) pops, and Zoey knows that Stevie Rae is Stevie Rae again, but is Aphrodite dead?!??!

“Her face!” Damien’s voice came from just behind me. “Look at her Mark.”

I blinked, not really understanding, and then I gasped. I’d been so busy looking into her eyes, sobusy seeing the old Stevie Rae, that I hadn’t noticed the obvious. The crescent moon that rested in themiddle of her forehead had been filled in. A beautiful pattern of tattoos made of swirling flowers with long, graceful stems all twined together framed her eyes and stretched down her cheek bones.

But the tattoos weren’t vampyre sapphire. They were the brilliant scarlet of new blood.

Aphrodite, who thank Nyx is not dead, informs everyone that Stevie Rae has Changed into a new kind of vampyre. Luckily she does not feel the need to proclaim, “I’VE CHANGED!!!!”

Tune in tomorrow to read the last chapter! I can’t believe this book is almost done already. God I love reading House of Night. 

Thank you so much to everyone that’s signed up for our Patreon so far. Matthew and I love you guys more than a Maddox bro loves a pointless, stupid, unnecessary good fight! More than Zoey loves brown pop and illicit affairs with professors! More than Uncle Jeb loves giving cave tours!

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23 comments

  1. Jennifer Layton Reply

    If you’re a couple of books ahead, then you already know the second anger-inducing development that made me quit this series.

    (Warning … spoilers)

    At this point, Aphrodite becomes assimilated. She turns nice and docile and becomes one of Zoey’s minions, even though the other “friends” still treat her like crap. This is incredibly frustrating because Aphrodite is the only relatable, likeable (I’ll get to her opening scene in the first book in a minute), interesting character in the whole series.

    In fact, this would have been an excellent book if you kept Zoey’s first-person perspective and her irritating personality, but through her interactions with Aphrodite, show us that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator and that Aphrodite is the actual hero. That would take serious writing skill to pull off, so instead we get this literary load of horse manure.

    And no, I have not forgotten about Aphrodite’s forced act of oral sex on Erik when we first see her in the first book. I insist that Aphrodite could still have been our hero in the “unreliable narrator” scenario, and the challenge would have been recognizing that she has some very serious issues while still being someone we could root for. She would definitely have to deal with what she did to Erik and recognize the darkness in herself, presenting real character development and growth, which again would require a seriously skilled writer and it’s just easier to open the liquor cabinet again. Let’s see, what is it today? (grabs random bottle) Ah, the winner is … vermouth. OK. This will be weird.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Wait wait which was the other scene? I’m guessing I read it but so much makes me angry…

      I had forgotten about the oral sex incident. I’d actually kind of like to re-read that knowing what I know about Erik and Aphrodite now.

      I hate that Aphrodite is just becoming another minion who says vaguely sassy things.

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        • 22aer22 Reply

          Ohhh I see. I don’t think it was you, I just read it wrong when you said there was a second thing that made you stop reading the books…the second thing was Aphrodite’s makeover, not a specific incident.

          It’s so hard, because I don’t mind that we’ve seen a gentler side to her, it’s just she’s become such a caricature in the process! I’m sure we’ll be doing the other books, so I’ll discuss it more as it comes up, but ug, so frustrating. I love your idea of seeing her be the true hero through Zoey’s unreliable narrative. I like to think in some ways we can still read that…as cartoonish as she becomes.

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  2. AW Reply

    The way that the friends are written is the worst. It’s an easy trap to fall into as a writer, to say, “Ok, the main character speaks, then friend 1, friend 2, friend 3; protagonist again, friend 3, friend 1, friend 2…” But it is terrible writing, and should be removed in the second draft. I know I’ve come across it in other (not good) books, but it feels so much worse because the twins are just the absolute pits. I understand that there needs to be two people for the circle, but honestly it would be better if one twin said everything and the other twin was mute.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Yes yes yes yes! Erin hasn’t spoken in awhile, let’s give her a bland line that Shaunee can then parrot or vice versa. Writing skills!

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    • Lougoober Reply

      Having every character say something every single time, that just reminded me of on Power Rangers and Sailor Moon and shows like that, any time anything would happen, all five characters would get a close-up reaction shot and they’d only be like “Whoa!” or “gasp“. I’m sure on those shows it was more of a time filler than poor writing skills, though.

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  3. Confuzzled Reply

    Lurker popping in to say—WTF was Stevie Rae thinking? She has spent the entire book trying to convince Zoey there’s something wrong with her, and when Zoey finally admits it long enough to say “Hey, friends, we need to fix this thing that’s wrong with Stevie Rae,” Stevie Rae won’t let Aphrodite stand in for earth because….that’s her special thing? WHY? For all Stevie Rae knew, she’d been rejected by Nyx or something and the circle wouldn’t work unless a fledgling who wasn’t dead-undead-whatever stood in for earth. She could’ve botched her own cure, because she wanted to feel special.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Fewer things bring me more joy than lurkers leaving comments! Hi!

      Yeah…why was this the thing that made Stevie Rae lose it if the ultimate goal is for her to get her humanity back, and to do so she can’t represent Earth in this circle? Given Zoey had already forced her to come to terms with Aphrodite’s help earlier in the book, you’d think Stevie Rae would grin and bear it. Although, maybe the “reasoning” the Casts used was that she’s so wild and violent that anything could really set her off, especially potentially losing the one thing she has left connecting her to her humanity.

      Really, we all know, though that they just needed some way to get her to bite Aphrodite. It cracks me up that normally they’d just have Nyx float onto the scene to be like, “Aphrodite needs to make this choice. She is chosen.”

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      • Confuzzled Reply

        Glad I could make you happy. 😉

        Yeah, it’s especially funny in that the way the Casts have set this series up so far, they didn’t really need an excuse for Stevie Rae to bite Aphrodite. Just have Zoey’s magic gut tell her so. The others might object, but we all know that when Zoey says “Nyx told me you have to do this,” the person in question WILL do what Zoey says.

        Which actually makes me wonder: Why doesn’t Zoey use this more often? “Oh, thanks for all the tacky Christmas-themed presents, guys…but Nyx says you have to return them and get me presents that don’t suck. Snowman earrings are an affront to the goddess.”

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  4. Skylar Reply

    The “furious wind” pressing down on Damien was greaaat. I burst out laughing. Picturing that is just… It’s the best.

    I’m confused. Why is Aphrodite against being bitten but then is like, “No, keep sucking the life out of me. I like this.”?

    I actually don’t care for the way the friends instantly turn on Zoey. It’s not annoying or anything to me, because that annoyance is instead put on the Casts. I really feel like this has nothing to do with the characters but instead the Casts want to make Zoey more pitiful. They’re victimizing her. Right after she gives up her “virtue” to a pedophile, and the “love of her life” ends up being an enemy, her second “love of her life”, Erik, also breaks up with her and calls her a slut, and of course being a “slut” is the worst thing in the world. Not only that but Erik goes and tells everyone else, and then everyone turns on Zoey. No one understands, no one lets her explain, everyone jumps right to attacking her. So it’s all a big “poor Zoey, her friends are being unreasonable” thing, and to accomplish that, the Casts had to really force the scene (it feels very forced to me). So instead of wanting to stab the dumb twins, Damien, and Erin, I just want to stab the Casts. Zoey will never everevereverever be likable.

    Except that one time she said Leonardo DiCaprio was a cute floating popsicle in Titanic. I will never forget that moment and I don’t want to. Oh, and the moments she spends with Aphrodite, but considering later on (spoiler) people are saying Aphrodite just becomes another minion of hers… I’m guessing the one thing that was actually “good” about the series will be no more D,:

    I was also confused throughout this whole thing for awhile because I kept missing the “N” at Erin with “K” in Erik. So I was like, “Wait, Erik was denied the earth affinity but he’s wind now…? Whut? Why is he even here? I thought he walked away?”. Took a long time to realize it was the other guy. xD

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Amen. You’re so right, I can’t even be mad at these characters because they haven’t really taken on a life of their own at all. Right now it’s convenient for the Casts to have them turn their backs on Zoey so we can all be sympathetic to Zoey. Sure, I feel bad she got tricked by Loren, but it really drives me nuts that she acts like she had no agency whatsoever in this. SPOILERS but she keeps trying to justify the fact that she cheated on Erik by saying she was deceived. As though if she hadn’t been tricked and Loren did love her, the cheating would have somehow have been okay? I hate that the Casts seem to really want us to adore Zoey.

      I get mixed up writing about Erik/Erin all the time. COME ON, CASTS! Be better.

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  5. E.H.Taylor Reply

    This reminds me a little of Sweet Valley High where these people are supposed to be best friends but immediately blame and shun at the slightest provocation without even wanting to hear the other side of the story (or ignoring it completely).

    Except in this case, Zoey has done some pretty shitty things whereas Elizabeth has done nothing.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      You can just imagine Zoey and Elizabeth in a support group, and Elizabeth just being like, “Are you for real? Everyone turns on me the moment my conniving sister frames me for something that’s very clearly out of character for me, and they do it time and time again even though you’d think they’d eventually start to figure it out. How dare you complain about your friends turning on you when you’re actually terrible, Zoey.”

      Except Elizabeth is actually so nice she’d probably be super nice to Zoey about her woes.

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  6. Gee Reply

    Generally bad/inexperienced writers have this problem with dialogue: they are writing it and just insert a character’s name as having said it, based on who hasn’t spoken recently or who should talk next so all of the characters are included. That should be a red flag for any writer, because it means the characters are so one-dimensional they are interchangeable and serve no real purpose in the book. I mean…even in those absurd Sweet Valley High books the twins and their friends have discernible qualities so their comments makes sense. So apparently when the Casts are like “Line of dialogue…who should say this?” And the other one says “Just type in a name.” they do not find it concerning.

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  7. Bellomy Reply

    As Matthew explained well previously, Aphrodite is just as ridiculous a character as everybody else. The difference with her is that, in making her a bitch, the Casts unintentionally made her an audience surrogate, because instead of sounding bitchy she’s just saying what we’re all thinking, just a little bit ruder.

    A good example is when she says to Zoey “Well did you actually try healing Stevie Rae?” The Casts are clearly trying to make this seem like the solution to a mystery, like it was the answer under their noses but easily missed – like, in “A Study in Pink”, having the villain be the cabbie.

    But in fact, it’s just stupid. The reason the cabbie thing worked in “A Study in Pink” (and a similar trick is used in a Father Brown story by G.K. Chesterton with a waiter, with equally good results) is that we really do tend to overlook cabbies. So the solution is right under our noses, but it’s realistic that somebody might miss it. “Heal Stevie Rae” is not clever, because it is the obvious first thing that Zoey should have done. And we like Aphrodite because when Aphrodite points this out and sneers at Zoey about it, we agree with her! Maybe she’s being a little nastier about it than we would, but she’s absolutely right, and that Zoey never thought to try it is moronic.

    So Aphrodite is nasty to Zoey, but Zoey is a terrible person, and she’s the only person calling her out. Thus, we like her for it. Now having all of Zoey’s friends simultaneously turn on her doesn’t come off as realistic, but too sudden. At least Aphrodite’s bitchiness was established; her friends’ nastiness comes off as a cheap trick, and ironically its purpose is to make Zoey seem even MORE heroic: “The world has turned on her!” Of course, none of us buy it.

    Turning Aphrodite into a Zoey groupie makes her lose all of her appeal because its fake appeal. Aphrodite is a cartoon too, and without her unintentionally speaking for the audience, her cartoonishness becomes easily noticeable and as a result the character becomes just as bland as everybody else.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I wish I could actually give you a standing ovation. Brilliant. True. All the yesses!

      True Detective also did a pretty good job with the, “It was that random person you didn’t expect!” trick. Although I was immediately like, “He’s the bad guy.” Most other people I’ve spoken with about it were very surprised.

      Also, one thing about Aphrodite that I do appreciate is that occasionally she gives me some hope that the Casts have some control over what they’re doing. Like Aphrodite telling Zoey to stop slut-shaming herself basically. Maybe the Casts kind of realize that Zoey should let herself off the hook sometimes. There’s a difference between being attracted to multiple people and cheating on someone that you’ve committed to, and I feel like Aphrodite is one who would be quick to point that out to Zoey. Unfortunately, though, once her nastiness is reduced to, “UG nerd herd, I can’t believe I saved you again. I miss being terrible!” it certainly becomes a cheap trick, as you said.

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  8. Lougoober Reply

    Maybe I missed/forgot something, but why are they mad at Zoey keeping Loren a secret? Didn’t she have sex with him like 30 minutes ago in-story?

    I wonder, could they have shortened this series into roughly half as long if they’d cut out so much of the “Shaunee says something, Erin says exactly the same thing, Damien uses 8th grade vocabulary word, Twins complain about him using such big words all the time, Aphrodite calls them nerds, Twins call her a bitch” BS? I think that combined with Zoey’s increasing mentions of her IBS, love of brown pop, and complaining about Aphrodite drinking mimosas really would shave off at least one book if you got rid of it all (or at least, decreased the frequency – Zoey really does mention her irritable bowels a lot as the books go on. She’d probably feel better if she’d stop having so much soda and Count Chocula, but I digress.)

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      They’re assuming, based on Erik’s big reveal, that this has been going on with Loren for awhile. Which it was, minus the sex. Zoey knew he was interested and kept trying to get her to sleep with him by giving her fancy gifts and she didn’t tell her friends anything that was going on.

      What character building! It’s so sad that these really are the only characteristics any of them have. Aphrodite wandering in with a drink. Damien uses a word that everyone thinks is big but really it’s not. The twins have nothing important to say, but damn it, they’re gonna say it twice. And Zoey…has IBS and likes brown pop. POSSIBLY CONNECTED.

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      • Lougoober Reply

        I was complaining to my mom about how stupid Zoey is, and actually her first thought was that her love of brown pop might be connected to her bowel issues. You know, seems like,a s vampyres, they would want to cut down on the soda, since it’s so bad for your teeth?

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  9. bookbaron Reply

    I’ve always thought that Zoey’s friends were terrible. None of this is surprising. I imagine they were waiting for a chance to stop being friends with her ever since she didn’t like their terrible birthday Christmas themed presents.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      They do seem dickish enough that they were just looking for excuses since the birthday fiasco. They don’t actually care that she’s kept any secrets from them, they were still just pissed off. I like the theory.

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