Killing Me Slowly

A leopardess who learned how to dance. And read.
Chosen - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast Ugh, what can we say about this book that we haven't already said about the last two? Not a whole lot, actually. Three books in and we've quickly come to realize that these books continue to be shitty, just in the exact same way every time.

In fact, we could probably quote whole sections of complaints from our reviews of books one and two, and they'd be able to apply to Chosen, as well. It wouldn't just be in "spirit", either - the book seems content to recycle whole chunks of earlier books, bigotry and all. Homophobic scene with the Twins berating Damien for making eyes at a straight dude? Check. Backhanded compliment of Damien for not being prissy like all those other gay boys? Check. "Caramel-colored" Shaunee? Awkward Nick-at-Nite reference to unnecessarily excuse knowing about The Brady Bunch? Scent of hay, gust of wind, water lapping at the feet during circle casting? CHECK CHECK FUCKING CHECK AUGHHHHH.

hades rage

So yes, the same issues that we had with the last two House of Night books are all still present and a-fucking-ccounted for, and it would be both excruciating and redundant to revisit them here. So we're not going to talk about those this time. We're going to try to cruise through this one, and just expand on a couple of the bigger problems we had with the third installment of the House of Night series, Chosen.

We have problems with this book, okay? Lots of them. Plot problems, sex problems, bad-fucking-storytelling problems, and they're all gone in to in more depth in the complete review at You're Killing Me. But if there's one thing we want to communicate most about Chosen, it's what follows:


It's not like House of Night has been a shining pillar of excellence when it comes to race - the series is an unabashed endorsement of stereotypes, has a fondness for Othering and exotifying Zoey's Sassy Black Friend, Shaunee, and has let loose with weave insults and "good hair" comments, and varying other subtly racist bullshit. But in Chosen, Cast has taken the racism to a new, disgustingly sinister level.

"Yeah, bitch! Ride him! Make him hurt so gooood!"

"That little white boy don't have nothin' for you. I'll give ya somethin' you can really feel!"

Heath's grip on my hips changed and he was in the middle of trying to turn my body away from the jeering voices so he could shield me, but the anger that spiked through me was blinding. My fury was impossible to ignore and my response was immediate. I lifted my face from his neck. Two black guys were just a few feet away and getting closer to us. They were wearing the stereotypical ridiculous sagging pants and stupid, oversized down coats and when I bared my teeth at them and hissed, their expressions changed from sneers to shocked disbelief.

"Get away from us or I will kill you." I snarled at them in a voice so powerful I didn't recognize it as my own.

"She's a fucking bloodsucker bitch!" the shorter of the two said.

The other guy snorted. "Nah, bitch got no tattoo. But if she wants somethin' to suck, I'll give it to her."

"Yeah, first you and then me. Her little punk boyfriend can watch and see how it's done." With a mean laugh, they started walking toward us again.

Still straddling Heath, I lifted my one arm over my head. With the other I dragged the back of my hand across my forehead and down my face, wiping off the concealer that hid my identity. That made them stumble to a stop. Then both of my arms were over my head. It was easy to center myself. Filled with Heath's fresh blood, I felt powerful and strong and very, very pissed.

"Wind come to me," I commanded. My hair began lifting in the breeze that swirled restlessly around me. "Blow them the hell outta here!" I flung my hands out toward the two men, letting my anger explode with my words. The wind obeyed instantly, crashing into them with such force that they were swept, yelling and cussing, off their feet and hurled away from me. I watched with a kind of detached fascination as the wind dropped the two men down in the middle of Twenty-first Street.

I didn't even flinch when the truck hit them.

Okay, what the fuck was that. No seriously, what the fuck. Zoey just got two guys, two men who are explicitly, pointedly stated to be black men, run over by a truck. And the story lovingly describes her every action, like we're supposed to appreciate what a powerful badass she is. What the fuck?

"Did you kill them?" His voice sounded all wrong, scared and accusing. I frowned at him.

"No. All I did was get them away from us. The truck did the rest. And anyway, they might not be dead." I glanced back at the road. The truck had come to a skidding, tire-squealing halt. Other cars had stopped, too, and I could hear people shouting. "And Saint John's Hospital is like less than a mile down the street." Sirens started wailing not far away. "See, the ambulance is coming already. They'll probably be okay."

The first thing Zoey does is rationalize - they might not be dead, there's a hospital, I didn't mean to, I'm sure they'll be fine. Blah blah blah. Then:

"Heath?" I lifted my hand toward him, but dropped it when he flinched away from me. The numbness was fading and I had started to shake. My god, what had I just done? "Are you afraid of me?"

Note there that the reaction isn't about what Zoey did to those men, but Heath's reaction to what she did to them. It's not about them, it's about her: why Heath, are you afraid of me because I killed two men in a rage?

His response?

"I'm okay with you being a vampyre, Zo. But I want you to remember that you're still Zoey, too. My Zoey. And my Zoey isn't mean."

Zoey isn't mean, not "My Zoey isn't a fucking MURDERER". Yes Zoey, it was so mean of you to kill two men.

"I couldn't let them hurt you," I whispered, really shaking now as I realized how cold and horrible I'd just been. I might have just caused the deaths of two men.

This is the first time we have Zoey acknowledge any sort of guilt-ish feeling over what she's done, without excusing it or tying it to someone else's perception of her. I might have just caused the deaths of two men. Okay, that's a start. Now maybe some guilt, some checking to see whether or not the men died, how injured they were, if they made it to the hospital, maybe taking some responsibility. You know, things a normal, empathetic person would do.

Or she could just wander over to her best friend's house in a blood-lusty, horny haze to talk about boys.

Yep, I was seriously messed up. Not only had I not broken up with Heath, but I had probably made our Imprint even stronger. Plus, I may have caused two men to be killed. I shivered, feeling more than a little sick. What in the hell had happened to me? I'd been drinking Heath's blood and having a horny old good time (jeesh, I was becoming such a ho-bag), and then those men had started messing with us and it was like something inside of me freaked and changed from Regular Zoey to Psycho Killer Vampyre Zoey.

Yeah, she sounds tortured. I mean really, not breaking up with her boyfriend, killing some guys, acting like a "ho" - all pretty much the same on the Zoey scale of Awful Things to Do.

Jesus Christ Cast, could you make Zoey's reflection on possibly causing the deaths of two men sound ANY MORE CASUAL?

Clearly there was just too much vampyre stuff that I didn't know about. Hell, I'd even taken notes and memorized some of the chapter on Imprinting and bloodlust, but I was starting to see that there was lots of stuff the oh-so-educational textbook had left out.

What I needed was an adult vamp. Fortunately, I knew one I was sure would be very happy to volunteer to be my teacher.

I'm sure there were lots of things he'd be ever so pleased to teach me.

I thought about those things, which was easy to do when I was filled with Heath's delicious, sexy blood. My body still tingled with heat and power and sensations I knew I didn't have a clue about, but I craved more of. A lot more of.

There was no denying that Loren and I had a thing. It was different than the thing Heath and I had, and even different than the thing Erik and I had. Crap. I had too many things going on in my life.

Basically, I floated to Aphrodite's parent's garage apartment in a kind of horny, power-filled, yet confused haze...

Yeah. That's what she's thinking about. That's her train of thought after POSSIBLY KILLING TWO PEOPLE. She's HORNY. She briefly tries to blame the vampire biology books for not telling her about the possibly violent side effects of imprinting - and then goes on to more important rambling about her boyfriend problems.

This is the last time that Zoey mentions the men from that night, not just for this book, but FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES:

"Professor Nola was killed last night. It looks like some of the People of Faith crucified her and chopped her head off and left her out by the trapdoor on the east wall with a lovely note about not suffering a witch to live. I think that my step-loser might be involved, but I can't say anything about it because my mom is covering for him, and if I rat him out she'll probably go to jail forever. I just sucked Heath's blood and got interrupted by some gang wannabes who I think I might have kinda sorta accidentally killed, and Loren Blake and I have been making out. So, how was your day?" The old Stevie Rae flickered inside this one's red eyes.

"Ohmygoodness," she said.


"You've been making out with Loren Blake?" As usual, Stevie Rae got to the heart of the juiciest gossip. "What was it like?"


You'd think that if your best friend came up to you and confessed to a possible murder, you'd be a lot more worried about that than her multiple boyfriend problems. But nope, "OHMYGODNESS HOT FOR TEACHER", that takes priority.

What the fuck is this? No really, what the fuck is this? A person wrote this, she had her fucking PROTAGONIST experiences this, and then brush it off like it was nothing. The deaths of two men. Two black men.

And that, that's the worst part, you see. They were black men. We were explicitly told that they were black men, that they were wearing "stereotypical" sagging pants and down jackets, and putting aside how INCREDIBLY SHITTY that is in terms of writing, lazily, flat-out labeling bit characters as stereotypes, fucking hack, let's think about what that means. Cast wants us to know these men are black - they're not white hoodlums, even though this would make no contextual difference in the story. They were stereotypical - Cast literally, specifically calls up a stereotype that her audience would likely be familiar with. Then she has her story-blessed protagonist, Zoey Redbird, kill them. And not fifteen minutes later, Zoey is daydreaming about humping her teacher, and priority in the mind of her friend is given to gossip and boys, implicitly absolving Zoey of her actions. So clearly, we're not meant to give two flying fucks about the men who just died.

Cast is intentionally preying on prejudices that, at least in her mind, her audience has against black men: they're dangerous, aggressors, potential rapists, misogynists, who are not deserving of our sympathy or empathy, of our heroine's guilt; they're sub-human. And then she agrees with them.


And she's requesting, no, requiring her reader's complicit racism. She's explicitly telling you that you don't have to give two fucks about the black guys who just died. Zoey doesn't. Heath doesn't. Stevie Rae doesn't. The story doesn't. So why should you? They were just black guys. Who the fuck cares, right? Here, shiny boy problems to worry about, forget about those two black guys PC Cast just wrote in and killed for no good fucking reason. Forget that PC Cast just outed herself as a fucking RACIST.

And before you go "But, but, they were possibly going to rape Zoey", NO. Did they have to be black to play the role that they played? Is it any less likely that two white men would act that way in the same situation? If your answer is "yes", then you need to re-think your prejudices. There was NO REASON for Cast to explicitly say that they were black, no fucking reason, except to communicate her fucked-up little racist code. In short:

PC Cast doesn't care about black people

And she doesn't think you should either.

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