Sunday, April 18, 2010

(Don't Be) Tempted

Tempted: A House of Night novel
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Press

In the latest installment of the House of Night series, Zoey Redbird is once again, grappling with coming of age as an unusually high-powered vampyre priestess while juggling her ever-increasingly jealous male harem.  This sixth book in the series is solely for the fans.  There isn't an overabundance of exposition to catch up new readers, so starting at the beginning of the series is definitely recommended.  My reviews of the prior books in the series can be found here.  A quick recap: Zoey and her friends are "fledglings" - new teen vampyres, sent to train at the exclusive House of Night prep school.  Vampyres gradually gain magical blue tattoos as their powers manifest.  Zoey's nemesis Aphrodite, the former most popular girl at school, has become human; her best friend Stevie-Rae has turned into a new kind of red-tattooed vampyre.

There are
some interesting plot developments in this volume.  Zoey seems to be settling in to a comfortable romantic relationship with her human boyfriend Heath.  They decide to significantly slow down her blood-drinking from him, as it addles her senses and compromises her judgement. Stark, her red vampyre warrior, did not make much of an impression with me in earlier books, but he seems to be taking on a very protective role now.  Zoey gets tired of Erik's jealous nonsense pretty quickly and kicks him to the curb right at the start of the book.

In the
meantime, evil demi-god Kalona is now meeting with the Vampyre Council on a small island off of Italy, where he's convinced them he's actually a prophesied good-guy, Erebus.  Zoey and her friends jet out to convince the Council otherwise.

Jack and
Damien, Zoey's gay classmates are good supporting characters.  The characterization of "The Twins" Shaunee and Erin, however, is flatter than ever with nothing to really distinguish them aside from the fact that oh-em-gee, Shaunee is BLACK and Erin is WHITE, yet SOMEHOW they are as inseparable as two peas in a pod!  They finish each other's sentences and remain in fairly bouncy good spirits and that's about it.  Zoey still clings to her favorite curseword, "bullpoopie" -- it made a certain kind of sense earlier in the series, as a way of avoiding "real" swears, but now most of her friends mock her for it, and some use fairly strong language of their own.

A lot
of this book falls into the "so terrible that it's great" category.  Why is this series such a guilty pleasure for me?  There's something about Zoey... she seems kind of... Mary-Sue-ish.  I decided to head on over to The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test and find out.  Wow.  I was astonished at the results.  I answered very, very conservatively.  When in doubt, or even when the answer was "technically" yes, but perhaps a little complicated, I did not count it.  A number of the questions are about how the author feels about the character, and I didn't presume to know how the Casts feel, so I left those blank as well.  Even so, Zoey Redbird scores a whopping 58 points.  A score of 30+ merits the warning, "Fanfiction authors beware - Mary's on the loose" so a score this high is practically off the charts.  To be fair, the test does seem to be weighted a little heavily against fantasy characters to begin with.  Not every book can (or should!) be an Oprah's Book Club type of novel.

I won't
"spoil" the ending, but there are a few shocking developments at the end of the book. The loss of one of the major characters, along with what looks like a major scaling back of Zoey's supernatural powers may "reset" the series and make future books more interesting.

Tempted is light,
fluffy, pleasure reading.  Teen vampire addicts won't turn their noses up at this one.

I borrowed this book from the library.

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