House of Night, Untamed, Chapter 3:
Stark joins Zoey and pals for lunch, which goes as hilariously as you’d expect.
“I think your dog is pretty,” Jack said, leaning around Damien to get a better look at Duchess.
“I mean, she’s big, but she’s still pretty. She won’t bite, will she?”
“Not if you don’t bite her first,” Stark said.
“Oh, eew,” Jack said. “I’d get dog hair in my mouth and that’d be nasty.”
I know I’ve already mentioned how much I hate Jack, but this guy is so irritating! Of course Stark didn’t actually think you were going to bite Duchess. This is the kind of conversation you might have with a small child.
“Stark, this is Jack. He’s Damien’s boyfriend.” I decided to get the introductions and the possible Oh, no! He’s a fag! issues out of the way.
Zoey is the one having these thoughts and projecting them onto everyone around her. “Oh, I just thought I’d let you know that my friends are total fags, just so you can beat the shit out of them in the cafeteria and get it out of the way. HELLO. I don’t want them beat up, but you might. Because they’re homos and sensitive and weak and emotional.”
Zoey scrutinizes Stark’s reaction:
“Hi,” Jack said with a really sweet smile.
“Yeah, hi,” Stark said. It wasn’t a hugely warm hi, but he didn’t seem to be giving off any homophobe vibes
In a shocking turn of events, Stark reacts normally to meeting someone new, and he’s (understandably) underwhelmed by their dating status. It would have been much weirder if he’d effused, “WHY HELLO, JACK! Damien’s boyfriend you say? How splendid! I love to meet homosexual couples! They are truly delightful.”
Zoey’s gone out of her way to introduce Jack as Damien’s boyfriend rather than as one of the members of her posse just to gauge Stark’s reaction. Typical asshole Zoey. I don’t introduce two people I’m friends with as “Grant and his girlfriend Jane,” just to test someone’s reaction about the fact that Jane is a cyborg and Grant, a human, is dating her. That’s just basic manners.
The twins give Stark suggestive looks. These two are starting to creep me out. Whenever an even moderately attractive guy is in the vicinity, they act like total buffoons! Aren’t they dating some of Erik “I’VE CHANGED!!!” Night’s friends anyway?
Aphrodite gives him an intense look, which Zoey doesn’t think is flirtatious. Stark makes stupid jokes about her name.
His slightly sarcastic smile was back. “So you’re the Goddess of Love. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Aphrodite was looking at Stark with a weird intensity that didn’t seem particularly flirtatious, but when
he spoke to her, she automatically executed a truly spectacular hair flip and said, “Hi. I like it when I’m
His smile widened and got even more sarcastic as he gave a little laugh. “It’d be hard not to recognize
you—the name’s pretty obvious.”
The Casts’ attempt to write a witty character makes me feel the same kind of ache in my chest I feel when I watch a child struggle to tie their shoes.
“You know, dogs are a lot louder than cats,” Jack said, studying Duchess like she was a science experiment.
At least they don’t even have to try with Jack. What is wrong with this guy? You’re telling me that in his whole life before coming to the House of Night he wasn’t exposed to dogs? I don’t buy it.
“It’s all that panting they do,” Erin said
“And they’re more flatulent than cats, Twin,” Shaunee said. “My mom has those ginormic standard poodles, and they are some gaseous creatures.”
So glad the twins were able to chime in and enrich this conversation. Also, does anyone else feel like we discuss farts in these books more than we discuss whatever the plot is supposed to be?
Damien and Stark go to grab food, and Aphrodite departs, leaving the twins with more room to shine:
“But on to a much more important topic,” Erin said.
“Yeah, the new hottie,” Shaunee said.
“Check out his butt,” Erin said.
“I wish he’d sag them jeans a little so I could get a better look,” Shaunee said.
“Twin, sagging is seriously lame. It’s so clichéd gang-wannabe circa 1990s. Hotties should just say no to it,” Erin said.
Casts, I’ll say this to you in a way you can understand: PLEASE, just please, with using your characters as seriously lame mouthpieces for your opinions no one cares about. HELLO. Xoxo, Gossip Girl.
“I’d still like to see his butt, Twin,” Shaunee said. Then she glanced over at me and smiled. It was a reserved version of her old, friendly grin, but at least it wasn’t the sarcastic wariness she’d been treating me with for the past couple days.
So she gave Zoey a mean grin? That wasn’t sarcastic and wary? Most confusing smile I’ve ever read.
Zoey observes that Stark is indeed attractive, but not too attractive. But it’s his intensity that makes him hot. It’s a shame Zoey doesn’t have three boyfriends anymore. It sounds like if she played her cards right she could have had four pretty soon.
He moved like everything he did was deliberate, but that the deliberateness was tinged with sarcasm. It was like he was a part of the world, and at the same time he was flipping it off.
And, yes, it was weird that I got that about him so quickly.
Weird. Beyond belief. Dumb. All the things.
Jack suddenly realizes that James Stark is the best, most amazing archer in all the land! This guy is certainly proving to be special enough to be Zoey’s next boyfriend.
“…He kicked butt in the track and field Summer Games this past year. Guys, he competed against grown vamps, actual Sons of Erebus, and he beat them all. He’s a star…”
Maybe he’s too special to be with Zoey. She’d probably feel the need to constantly remind him that she has an affinity for all the elements.
When Stark returns to the table, everyone is in awe of him, which he is so over:
Stark looked up. “Whatever. It’s just something I’ve been good at ever since I’ve been Marked.” His eyes went from Damien to me. “Speaking of famous fledglings, I see the rumor about your extra Marks is true.”
“It’s true.” I really hated these first meetings. It made me uncomfortable as hell when I met someone and all they could see about me was the uber-fledgling and not the real Zoey.
Then I got it. What I was feeling was probably a lot like what Stark was feeling.
I’m in a state of shock that Zoey actually had a moment where she realized something painfully obvious and experienced basic empathy and understanding. “He’s special…I’m special…special…OH I GET IT.”
To change the subject, Zoey smoothly transitions onto the topic of horses…which somehow leads to an argument about cats. I guess the Casts were just desperate for ways to stretch this book out without actually doing any work and creating moments of character development.
Zoey heads off to go talk to Aphrodite who wanted to talk to her privately. This is such a relief as it means a much needed break from Zoey’s relentlessly awful friends.
I found this gif that I think weirdly sums up the whole chapter:
Wow. It’s like the Casts saw this and just used it as inspiration.