Killing Me Slowly

A leopardess who learned how to dance. And read.
Betrayed - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast Oh god, this book was so boring. Okay, yes, some of that comes from having read it already, but it's not like there aren't books that can stand up to a good re-read and still be compelling. Betrayed...does not.

There are, well, several reasons for this. The simplest is probably the goddamn expository recaps. The book opens on a jarring, rambling rundown of the few relevant events of Marked, the first of many, and it's not so much the content or presence of the things that bug, as it is the way they're related. Hey, look, we get wanting to refresh old readers for the new book, or bring new ones up to speed, we do. But there's a way to do that without littering the narrative with big, awkward bombs of redundant information, so direct and unsubtle and lacking in any sort of literary craftsmanship that they might as well be breaking the fourth wall. It's like having a "previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" segment every time a recurring plot point comes up. It's a shit tone to set for the story to come.

The second problem is that, yet again, the bulk of the novel is devoted to a subplot that just isn't relevant. A good three-quarters of Betrayed ostensibly follows Zoey's continuing quest to reform the Dark Daughters, while progress on the over-arching plot takes a backseat until the last few chapters arrive and it's time for something CLIMACTIC to happen. The key issue with this is that the book doesn't actually give a shit about the reformation of the Dark Daughters - it's just something for Zoey to be "doing" when she accidentally sees or overhears something she shouldn't have. It's inconsequential busy work so that she's not just standing around while the conflict builds.

Here's the thing, though: Betrayed just as easily *could* have had a subplot that mattered. Zoey just as easily could have been given a reason to investigate the strange goings-on in the House of Night, instead of tripping over them as she did in the actual story. This would have improved so much, it would have made Zoey a more active heroine, and Betrayed a more interesting, critical installment of the series. But instead, the story settles for treading water with catty school drama for like two hundred pages. Zoey could literally be doing anything to pass the time here, and the book knows it, so it doesn't expend too much effort on making this sub-plot emotionally or intellectually relevant.

Naturally, this means that what little that we see come out of the Dark Daughters subplot is superficial and mind-numbingly stupid.

The gist is that now that Zoey's taken over leadership of the Dark Daughters from Aphrodite, she has no idea what to do with them. They're basically just a legitimized clique - supposedly the leadership is somehow supposed to train you to be a high priestess (although how and what skills you would need to function as a high priestess are never really touched on), but everything else is just window dressing. So Zoey sets out to turn the group into something that will "bring people together" and isn't "stuck-up and so exclusive that only a few from a chosen clique can join".

Remember that, because it'll be pretty ironic in a moment.

So after a THRILLING trip to the school library, Zoey comes up with this truly ground-breaking concept:

"Well, I like the way this private school called Kent runs their student leadership group.[...] The Senior Council and Prefect System is an integral part of life at Kent. These students are chosen as leaders who vow to be role models and to manage all aspects of student life at Kent." I used my pen to point at the computer screen. "See, there are several different Prefects, and they are elected to each yearly Council by votes of the students and the faculty, but the final choice is made by the Headmaster - which would be Neferet - and the Senior Prefect."

"Which would be you," [Loren] said. [...]

"Yeah. It also says every May new Council members are ‘Tapped' as possible appointees for the next school year, and there's a big service held to celebrate."

We don't know what's sadder: that Zoey had to go to the library to come up with the idea for a student council, or that everyone else commends her for coming up with such a truly brilliant and original idea.

So with six empty seats to fill with "model students" that everyone should worship and adore and strive to emulate, who does Zoey choose for the job? Why her four sidekicks and vampire boyfriend, of course! Fuck that "bringing people together" shit, Zoey's essentially just trading her clique for Aphrodite's, but it's TOTALLY OKAY this time, because she's the good girl! It's not like she and her friends are snarky, judgmental assholes who talk shit about everything and everyone, even people they supposedly like! Oh, wait:

"Thankfully, she's Sarah Freebird's roommate." Damien nodded toward the petite girl with seriously black hair who was showing the lost-looking new kid around the dining hall, his sharp, fashion-wise gaze checking out the two girls and their outfits - from shoes to earrings - in one fast glance. "Clearly her fashion sense is better than Sarah's, despite the stress of being Marked and changing schools. Maybe she'll be able to help Sarah out with her unfortunate ugly shoe propensity."

Hahaha, yeah they are.

But it's okay, see, because Zoey's going to let one student who isn't already completely under her thrall into the group, so that's something, right?!? Right? That's only a six to one majority! Except that, you know, this never happens, because not even the book gives a shit about this inane plot.

But wait, it gets so much better! Those ideals the council is supposed to embody?

"The Dark Daughters and Sons should swear to be authentic for air, faithful for fire, wise for water, empathetic for earth, and sincere for spirit."

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA OH GOD, OUR STOMACHS. Putting aside here that Zoey & co are perhaps the least authentic, wise, empathetic or sincere characters we've ever read about, is that not the cheesiest horse shit you have ever laid eyes on? OH GAWD YOU GUYS WE HAVE TO BE, LIKE, AUTHENTIC. FOR AIR! PFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTT. Please, Zoey, do tell which preschool sing-a-long show you copped that from? And oh god, everyone loves it just so much, they fawn over this like Zoey's spouted the wisdom of the ancients, like it's so SUPER SRS BSNS, being wise for water. Jesus Christ, what does that even mean?

Loren's reaction to this declaration is the best:

"The Dark Daughters and Sons should swear to be authentic for air, faithful for fire, wise for water, empathetic for earth, and sincere for spirit."

"Beautiful and intelligent and innocent," [Loren] whispered.

That man said that to Zoey with a straight face, give him an OSCAR. Seriously, how could he react like that to "sincere for spirit" and not be laying it on Zoey pretty thick? lol DEAD GIVEAWAY.

Speaking of Loren, Betrayed is where we first start seeing Zoey's perpetual love decahedron take its shape...

Read full review at You're Killing.Us.

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