Hello guys, today is a Bookaholic first! I’m going to attempt to write two book reviews in one post. I have no idea how this is going to go but I figured it was worth a try. Lately I’ve made it my mission to finish off the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. The story follows Zoey Redbird, a fledgling vampire who with the help of her friends is battling against an evil priestess named Neferet. I used to love this series when I was younger but the authors have continued to drag it out and the plots have become increasingly thin, not to mention bizarre. Since I have similar things to say about Destined (book 9) and Hidden (book 10) and the storylines are almost exactly the same, I figured I may as well review them together!
Side Note: Since these books are nearing the end of the series this post will, naturally, contain spoilers from the previous books.
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Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is.
But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia’s handsome horse whisperer, threatens its precarious stability. And then there’s the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous boy who is actually more – or possibly less – than human. Only Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there’s something strangely familiar about him…
Will Neferet’s true nature be revealed before she succeeds in silencing them all? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox’s humanity in time to protect him – and everyone – from his own fate?
Oh man, I cringe so much even reading the blurb. I’ll be honest, my expectations before reading this book were so low they were in the basement. After reading it, most of my expectations were validated.
So first up, the writing. I have never in my life seen so many ADVERBS. I mean, I’m a girl who is 100% guilty of overusing them so I’m not normally one to judge but this was ridiculous. I counted 8 on the first page, the entire book is littered with them and let me tell ya it doesn’t make for a fun reading experience! The Casts’ dialogue use was also awful and tended to switch between two styles – overdramatic cringey ‘teen speak’ and stilted, stiff robotic talk. Every paragraph seemed to jar painfully in my head, it was only when I got two thirds of the way though Destined that I grew used to the writing and my brain gave up trying to edit everything! *Sigh.*
This book and series is bonkers, teens make better decisions than their teachers, there are half-human half-bird/bull people walking around as if it’s totally normal and despite the life or death situations going on characters complain about petty incidents and the fact they missed the latest episodes of Game of Thrones or True Blood. Oh, and have I mentioned the scene where they suggest that a vampire should Skype someone? I just…I can’t take that picture in my head, it’s utterly bizarre. Surely they could have come up with a cooler vampy way of doing it?!
Destined had a virtually non-existent central plot which added to my frustration. Essentially the characters walked around with a ridiculous amount of fake sass having mundane conversations, and then at the end they had a face off with evil that didn’t amount to any plot progress. I was also annoyed to see that instead of starting to wrap things up the Casts’ have added even more new characters, some of which appear to have no impact on the main plot whatsoever! Oy.
Yet, remarkably, when I reached the half way point I started to enjoy Destined to an extent. It was almost as if I gave up and embraced the craziness and afterwards, was able to enjoy the story more. Plus, after the dramatic ending I even found myself wanting the next book! That’s the problem with this series, it gives you a tonne of useless filler but then adds in one thing that makes you want to continue and find out what happens. Despite everything, these authors know what they’re doing. DAMNIT.
I was happy to discover that the protagonist Zoey Redbird was less annoying in this novel. She at least seemed to be trying to grow up and make better decisions and wasn’t backstabbing everyone around her like she used to. However, the fact that she had sex with her boyfriend minutes after finding out her mother had died made me question her sanity, but maybe that’s just me! I was also happy to see Aphrodite was on top form, compulsively cursing at everything and anything. She’s always a breath of fresh air in comparison to the other characters because she calls them on their stupid antics in an entertaining way. All my favourite lines in this book came from her, she’s the only character I truly care about.
There’s one thing I can’t overlook about this series however, and that’s the disturbing romantic relationship between Stevie Ray the fledgling vampire and the half-bird half-man, Rephaim. Originally a creature of evil, Rephaim was granted forgiveness by the vampire goddess and it seems like the authors are trying to turn this plotline into some kind of lesson about forgiveness. But Rephaim is a creature who was a serial rapist and murderer, yet this seems to be brushed away because he ‘didn’t know any better’. It’s the most vile, insensitive plot line I’ve ever come across and Stevie Ray, a character I once liked, is now despicable by association.
Overall, Destined wasn’t a total train wreck, but it was pretty close.
Writing Style: 1/5
Character Development: 1/5
Would I recommend this book? Only to existing House of Night fans.
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At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet’s evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side – but she’s far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world. First, a mysterious fire ravages the stables. Then, Neferet makes a devastating move that will test them all.
With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together – but that’s proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night’s former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limit. To top it off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind. She saw something when she looked at Aurox through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Is it possible that Heath has come back in a different form? Is that why Zoey’s so intrigued by Aurox, when it’s so obvious that he’s dangerous? And who would believe her if she told them? Zoey knows that following her instinct about Aurox might be just what they need to defeat evil . . . but if she’s wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.
With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it’s too late?
Why are these blurbs so long? Geez.
The first thing that I noticed about Hidden was that the Casts’ writing had improved dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Shakespeare..it’s not even Stephenie Meyer but it’s like someone waved a magic wand and POOF there’s 90% less adverbs! And it’s absolutely amazing how much of a difference it made. I found myself enjoying Hidden a lot more simply because it flowed in a way that wasn’t so distracting. I have a feeling the reason for this sudden change lies in the dedication before the book stars ‘This is for those of you who have made mistakes, and who are brave enough to correct them, and wise enough to learn from them.’ Unless they’re not talking about themselves…. in which case, AWKWARD.
Either way, yay for writing improvement!
Next up the plot. Hmm yeah, I swear I saw a plot around here somewhere…now where’d it go? Oh yeah! It disappeared five books ago, no joke! Hidden, like Destined has the exact same plot, teen drama, pointless conversations, romance issues and then a fight against evil at the end. The lack of forward momentum in this series is excruciating. Barely anything happened in Hidden, yet somehow I found it an entertaining read. Maybe it’s because I’m getting back into the swing of the series or I’m slowly being brainwashed, but there were a few scenes that made me laugh out loud and I even found certain sections insightful. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Hidden more was due to the subplot going on with the twins. Since the very first novel there have been two characters that considered themselves ‘twins’ in everything except blood. They have always had the same interests and opinions regularly finishing each other sentences and I never really cared about either of them. However, in Destined and even more so in Hidden the two have been striving for their own identities and separately they are much more interesting (even if they’ve gone with the good girl vs bad girl cliché).
There was a lot of character development in Hidden which was probably why I enjoyed it more than it’s predecessor; even though the plot was moving at snail pace it at least gave me the impression of making new ground. There’s Shaunee’s family issues and her need to discover who she truly is as an independent de-twinned individual, Zoey’s realisation that she needs to grow up, Aurox’s struggle to become a creature of light rather than darkness and more insight into Neferet’s desperate need for control and domination over others. I also enjoyed seeing another side to Kalona the fallen angel and warmed to the newbie character, Shaylin who was struggling to understand her gift – the ability to read people’s auras.
Overall, as House of Night novels go Hidden was pretty good. There was 50% less of me squishing my face up in dislike which can only be a positive thing. The writing improved, there were both funny and heartwarming scenes, reasonable pacing and some interesting character development. The story was still utterly bonkers and full of filler but at least it was semi entertaining!
Writing Style: 3/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? Only to existing House of Night fans.
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My advice to you dear readers? Avoid the House of Night series unless you adore all things vampire and can overlook hypocritical characters and patchy writing. Originally the books had some unique ideas and a brilliant premise, but later most of this is overshadowed by a painfully non-existent plot. If I hadn’t already committed so much time and effort, I wouldn’t be bothering to finish this series!