Thursday, November 12, 2009

House of Night: You Know We're Edgy Because We Used "Night" In Our Title

Now that you know what Night tastes like thanks to R.L. Stine in narrative drag, you're probably thinking, "Hey, I'm super glad I'm so informed about Night, but what if I want to crash its happenin' party? What if I want to get drunk and TP its front lawn?" In short, you want to know where Night lives. Fortunately, the mother-daughter duo of P.C. and Kristin Cast will answer all your questions in the book series I hate above all others, the House of Night novels.

The first thing you need to know about this series? Well, vampire is spelled "vampyre," because it's just totally sexier that way, mmmkay? (Y God?
Y??) The second thing you need to know is that this review technically only covers the first three books, because I was too disheartened to read any further. Does it get better? Can it get any worse?

1: The Protagonist

Our heroine is Zoey Redbird. In the first novel,
Marked, we learn that, not only is she becoming a vampyre, she is also beautiful, talented, smart, irresistible to "totally yummy" guys (her words, not mine), persecuted by her parents, and, best of all, marginally ethnic. She uses ridiculous slang (and lots of parentheses full of edgy, super-kewl "humor") and, though she is, to all appearances, a white yuppie in a white yuppie house with a white yuppie family, she can channel the ancient spirits of her Cherokee ancestors. Yup, she's one-one-billionth Cherokee, and as such, she can call down the stereotypes at a plot twist's notice!

As the series progresses, we discover that Zoey is also the most powerful fledgling vampyre the world has ever known, hand-picked by the vampyre goddess for a great destiny, and so on and so forth. She is unique and special and special and unique and did we mention that all the guys love her and the most popular girl in school is totally jealous of her? We didn't? Oh, don't worry, the Casts will. They'll mention it approximately eight million times in the first novel alone!

2: The Sidekicks

Zoey has a whole cast of cardboard cutouts dedicated to following her around and telling her how special she is. Her crew of stereotypically one-dimensional friends includes a ditzy blonde, a black sistah, a gay kid (who totally isn't defined by his gayness unless he's pointing out cute guys and hot shoes and ... oh wait, never mind, he does that in every other sentence to remind us all that he's GAY, because how EDGY is THAT??), and a Midwestern girl who strives to embody the punchline of every "You might be a redneck if ..." joke
. It follows, naturally, that Zoey's friends are also incredibly gifted; together, they are able to call on the powers of earth, wind, air, fire, water and heart to summon the vampyre goddess or something like that. I don't know. It's like the Planeteers mated with the Baby-Sitters Club to produce some sort of hybrid vampyre-Mary Sue dream team.

3: The Boys

Zoey also has several boys attempting to steal her oft-mentioned and fretted-about virginity. These boys are all super-duper yummy; one, Erik Night, is nothing more than Edward-Cullen-sans-abstinence program (these vampyres have SEX, because how EDGY is THAT??); the second, Zoey's human boyfriend, is so bland and forgettable that I can't even think of his name right now. I think he's blond? These guys never evolve any semblance of real character; there just isn't the page space for that, not with the Casts obligated to mention how special Zoey Redbird-Cherokee Princess-Spirit Warrior-Yuppie Brat is every other paragraph and all.

4: The Prose

For the love of all that is marginally good and right in this world,
the prose! The Casts make Stephenie Meyer look like Ray Bradbury. I can't believe it takes both of them to destroy the English language the way they do. It's a really beautiful team effort that you must read to believe, especially if adults trying too hard to sound young and relevant is your thing.

5: In Summation

The House of Night series is the mutant love child of Twilight, Harry Potter and Gossip Girl, as written by a mother and daughter who shook a handful of supposedly edgy ingredients into a cauldron of crappy prose, then stirred it all together and slopped it out in libraries and bookstores all over the world.

I just hope it comes out of the carpet.

Read This Instead: Already Dead by Charlie Huston is actually an innovative and edgy take on the vampire fiction genre. It's the kind of novel that laughs at the House of Night books for being posers.