Saturday, July 25, 2015

House of Night Discussion Series Part 2: Impressionable 17-Year-Old vs Less Impressionable Nearly-21-Year-Old

The last time I read this series was around four years ago. I was in high school, and I usually read a book a day. But that last time I read this series, I remember it dragging. I remember it being tedious and painful and more of a chore than anything else. I remember hating Zoey as a main character and lots of other things about the story. I remember all my friends saying how much they hated Zoey and other parts of the books (mainly, everyone hating Zoey). I remember doing anything, watching hours of TV, so I wouldn’t have to read this series. In the intervening years, I became involved with Goodreads and booktube and the online bookish community, and whenever I hear talk of this series, it’s mostly negative.
So, with the memory of my last experience reading this series, and with all the negativity surrounding it, I went into it this time just wanting to get it over with. I was going to finish this series, but I wasn’t going to like it.
However, reading this series analytically as an adult I find I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected too. Nowadays I have a job that takes up a lot of my time and access to a computer which takes a good amount of the time I have left. Generally, it take me about half a week to read a book, yet I’m burning through this series. I started Marked (book 1) a week ago, and I’m now I’m Burned (book 7). This experience is so converse to the last time I read it, that I’m having fun, staying up late to read, choosing the turn away from my computer of TV. While I definitely don’t claim to have grown up too much, I do think I was much more impressionable four years ago than I am today.
What I’m saying is that I was much more impressionable the last time I read this series. Also, I knew a lot more people who’d read this series four years ago. This go ’round I only have one IRL person I can talk to about it.
I’ll see you soon with HoN Discussion Series Part 3: In Defense of Zoey Redbird

Sunday, July 19, 2015

House of Night Discussion Series Part 1: Flaws and Strengths

Two nights ago, I picked up Marked, book 1 of the House of Night, to begin my long trek of rereading the first 9 books and finally catching up with the final three. I’m now about halfway through the first book, and I’d like to create civil and intelligent discussion about this series, a series that most people (including myself) deem to be trash.

Whilst I read the series, I will post various discussions, with the intent of playing devils’ advocate with myself (and you) about this series.

I figure a good discussion to start us off would be to point out the most obvious flaws and strengths this series contains.

Strength: The first line, which I give an A+, as it accomplishes the two most important things a first line can.
“Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.”
Even in a world now awash with vampire and zombie fiction, even having read this series several times before, even as an adult, that line drew me in. It also sets the tone for the rest of the book, Zoey’s diction and voice oozing from this line. I really think this is a brilliant first line.

Flaw: The rest of the writing, though… well, it quickly becomes clear that Zoey’s voice is incredibly immature. Personally, I feel if it has to be in parentheses, it shouldn’t make it to the final draft. On the other hand, when I was high school, I often put my thoughts in parentheses, so maybe it’s realistic? Still, while the writing of this book might not be the worst ever, I certainly would say it’s anything more than “Okay.”

Flaw: Towards the beginning of the book, Nyx basically tells Zoey hat because she’s such a good person, she will be Nyx’s eyes and ears in a world in turmoil. As the series progresses, this seems more and more like an odd choice, given Zoey’s aforementioned immaturity and, shall we say, lack of impulse control.

Strength: however, there are quite a few people in the bookish community who complain that they too often see ‘Mary Sues’ in YA literature. A Mary Sue is a female character who essentially has no flaws. This sets Zoey apart, as anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that she was a Mary Sue. Plus, this series has so many other compelling characters with dramatic arcs, it becomes easy to focus more on them then on Zoey.

Strength: It also obvious that the Casts put a lot of thought into crafting a complete world with compelling details that differentiate it from our own. The complete pervasion of vampyres in the ordinary world, from naming celebrities who are vampyres to the high school slang used in regards to vampyres (Hell High), even to the thought put into the classes taught at the House of Night.

Flaw: This isn’t actually a flaw with the novel, but it’s awkward enough for me to include. This series was written by a mother and daughter team. Now, imagine being the daughter, and writing this series with your Mom. Really think about it. This series, with some of the scenes in this series. Now imagine writing it with your Mom.

Perhaps I’ve been a lenient with this series, weighting more towards the strengths then the flaws. But remember, I’m playing devils’ advocate. Also, I will discuss in a later post how popular opinions influenced my view of the series, but for now let’s say that I remembered this book as being much worse than it is, which contributed to my leniency.

See you soon,