ZeldaQueen: When we last left off in Marked, we were introduced to John Heifer, a character so vital to the series that he is pretty much ignored hereafter.
Ruin: The step-father to three children, two of whom are so important to Zoey, we will likely never see or hear of them again.
ZeldaQueen: And one of those two is so very important, she’s completely left unmentioned for the entire rest of the series, including when her own mother talks about her children.
So, despite Zoey insisting that her life is on the line and she has to get to the HoN NOW, she starts off just sitting on her bed, hacking her lungs up, listening to her mom calling their therapist and the prayer tree. And oh, of the prayer tree, Zoey says this.
“Within thirty minutes our house would begin to fill up with fat women and their beady-eyed pedophile husbands. They'd call me out to the family room. My Mark would be considered a Really Big and Embarrassing Problem, so they'd probably anoint me with some crap that was sure to clog my pores and give me a Cyclops-sized zit before
laying their hands on me and praying. They'd ask God to help me stop being such an awful teenager and a problem to my parents. Oh, and the little matter of my Mark needed to be cleared up, too.”
ZeldaQueen: Words, Ruin. I haz them. Do you?
Ruin: I have a question. Are these people really supposed to be based on American Christians, or just the media’s idea of them?
ZeldaQueen: They’re supposed to be based on really hardcore insane fundamentalists who, yes, do exist, but not to such a degree as portrayed here. It really doesn’t help that Christians in the series are portrayed as either these jackasses or Catholic nuns who believe that the Virgin Mary is another form of a Greek goddess of night who also rules over vampires.
That being said. That first sentence. MY FUCKING GOD. Again, I have to ask why the HELL the Cast ladies thought it would make Zoey the least bit likable or sympathetic to say something like that. Bad enough that the women in this group are identified only through fat-shaming (way to be progressive towards women, Suethors!), but to casually identify all of the men as pedophiles just because? YES, THAT’S SOMETHING ACCEPTABLE TO CASUALLY USE AS AN INSULT! That’s not even touching how, in the midst of all that Do Not Want, there’s the hint of sexism (the women are insulted by their body image, while the men are identified with a label that almost always brings “molester” to mind?)
MISS JUDGMENTAL = 39
STEREOTYPES MAMBO = 17 (How many times have we heard the one about the child-molesting religious zealots?)
So, moving as best we can past that, on to the next point. Zoey has just turned into a vampire. She has just changed species. Why is this being treated like some sort of embarrassment. Don’t they think vampires are EVIL MONSTERS?
Ruin: I don’t think the series (at least so far) is very clear on how humans see the vampires. They must be vilified in the media enough for Zoey to think of them as monsters, yet as we find out a little later, they’re all actors, musicians and athletes.
ZeldaQueen: In all fairness, I can understand the idea that vampires are publicly generally accepted positively but the People’s Faith think they’re horrible. Like I said, they’re supposed to be based off of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church which, among other things, has picketed places selling Sweden-made products because they’re convinced God hates Sweden (and most everywhere else for that matter, but that’s not the point). I get the sense, though, that the Cast ladies are building the denial here as a serious problem. You know, that this upcoming prayer tree thing could seriously harm Zoey. And, as horrible as it is, there are documented cases of insane people causing others serious harm because they believe it’s helping exorcise demons or something. If the Cast ladies are already going all-out on these folks, why not do that? Why not say that they’re convinced Zoey is possessed by a demon (as her stepfather already insinuated) and thus have her worry that she needs to leave before they tie her to a chair and try to starve the demon out or whatever?
Ruin: As plot, that would work: Zoey would no doubt bleed out from not being taken to the HoN multo pronto, and they could say ‘oh, the demon left her, and it was too much for her fragile human body’. Death-by-Exorcisms have been recorded in the Bible, and they’ve happened on Supernatural, so it would have worked just fine as a reasonably assumed conclusion; her escape from the crazy fundamentalists trying to tie her to a chair would have at least been a dramatic plot point.
ZeldaQueen: They really would have. And honestly, given that vampires have been (A) public knowledge since the days of the ancient Greeks, (B) cropped up all over the world, in just about every imaginable culture, and (C) have been incredibly famous and influential people (Shakespeare, Jane Austen, etc.), one would think the Christian view on vampires being possessed people would be treated even a little differently.
AU DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT = 6
Despite showing nothing but disdain for the People’s Faith, Zoey randomly notes that if it were as easy as going through their little ceremony to cure her of her vampirism, she’d gladly accept it. Apparently she’s so upset because, “This whole thing meant that I was going to have to leave. To start my life over somewhere I'd be the new kid. Somewhere I didn't have any friends”. Dude. You’re not being shipped to Mars. You’ll be living in the same town, and you ought to know that the vampire kids are allowed to leave! *pulls at hair*
Ruin: She’s been complaining for whole chapters about how much she hates her home life, and now she has a genuine out, she’s so scared she’d take the chance to be human again? I don’t understand this logic.
ZeldaQueen: I could understand being scared about going through the changes into being a vampire and going into the unknown, but she hardly is thinking about that. All she worries about how “[s]chool was the only place [she] really felt at home anymore; [her] friends were [her] only family”. You know, ALL THOSE FRIENDS WE NEVER HAVE SEEN? And really, it’s pretty brassy to try to convince us she has so many close friends she can’t stand to part with after doing nothing but show us her being a judgmental ass to about 90% of her school’s student body!
Oh, and she she also takes time to bitch some more about the therapist, who again, we NEVER SEE.
“And, as if the People of Faith weren't bad enough, the horrid prayer session would be followed by an equally annoying session with Dr. Asher. He'd ask me a lot of questions about how this and that made me feel. Then he'd babble on and on about teenage anger and angst being normal but that only I could choose how it would have an impact on my life…blah…blah…and since this was an ‘emergency’ he'd probably want me to draw something that represented my inner child or whatever.”
ZeldaQueen: Okay, I realize that there are bad therapists, just as there are bad doctors in any field of medicine. But that right there? That sounds like some whining that would be spouted from a person who has no clue what a therapist does at all. Or rather, it’s the perfect stereotype about the useless therapist who is of no help whatsoever and who our wonderful heroine doesn’t need!
STEREOTYPES MAMBO = 18
Ruin: Could we call this a case of the Cast ladies not knowing what therapists do at all?
ZeldaQueen: Not knowing or not caring. Given how Zoey comes across as more than a little sociopathic later and given her overall sense of entitlement (as well as how the series goes out of its way to make sure that there aren’t consequences that stick to get in the way of her fun), I get the unpleasant sense that Zoey’s just whining that someone dares to suggest she needs help with some aspect of her life. And, yet again, this could have worked! This therapist was brought in by her stepfather. If it’d be well-written, sure I could believe that he’s a quack and Zoey’s right not to trust him! But since we just get… well, that - *points up* - and since it doesn’t even matter, I’m not even sure why it was included at all!
And so, this conflict all comes to head as… Zoey just climbs out her window and escapes. That’s all she had to do.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS SHE DOING SITTING AND COUGHING UP HER LUNGS FOR? WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST GO? IS HER LIFE ON THE LINE OR NOT?
Ruin: Is she just taking a coffee break to complain some more at the Fundamentalist straw men her authors erected? WHERE IS YOUR SENSE OF SELF-PRESERVATION?
ZeldaQueen: She doesn’t have one. I’m not even joking. Not in the same way Bella Swan and Nora Grey don’t have them, but you’ll see what I mean.
So Zoey finds her car key under a flower pot - I thought most people kept their keys either in the car itself or somewhere in the house, but I could be wrong - and, after taking time to complain about her neighbors being noisy and her sister being really into cheerleading…
MISS JUDGMENTAL = 41
she heads for the car. When she reaches it, she sees fit to pause long enough to whine about her stepfather’s treatment off her car.
“My cute Bug was sitting there where she always sat—right in front of the third door to our three car garage. The step-loser wouldn't let me park her inside because he said the lawnmower was more important. (More important than a vintage VW? How? That didn't even make sense. Jeesh, I just sounded like a guy. Since when did I care about the vintageness of my Bug? I must really be Changing.)”
ZeldaQueen: First of all, that bit of “Woe, my life sucks!” doesn’t even make sense. A lawnmower and a Bug are, I think, both small enough that they could be fit in a garage without issue. Granted, I know it depends on the size of the garage, but I doubt the ones here are tiny. What Zoey should be considering is that she’s allowed her own car at all! She has no job, she’s a minor, and I can not believe her mother could have afforded something like that for her before marrying her stepfather. Nor can I believe that her grandmother, who we’ll see runs a lavender farm, could afford it.
Ruin: It’s Bella’s Chevy all over again, but for the fact that her possession of it makes no sense. Oh, and I love that she thinks her sudden care for the ‘vintageness’ of her Bug is ‘due to the Change’ - does she think that her female-identity means that a car-related obsession is unusual? Does she think that car obsessions are Guy-Only territory?
ZeldaQueen: More likely the Cast ladies were going, “Dur hur, women stereotypically don’t like mechanical stuff, so it’s funny for her to joke that she’s changing in other ways because she cares!”
STEREOTYPES MAMBO = 20 (for suggesting men only care about cars and that women DON’T)
Ruin: I will tell you now, as the Resident Man, I’ve never given two shits about cars. I appreciate what they do, and I can watch Top Gear without confusion. But cars? They are not my area.
ZeldaQueen: Going back to the cost of that car of Zoey’s, Bella at least had the excuse that her dad bought her’s secondhand and that it was never in great condition (though still driveable), plus her dad intended for it to be a gift to her and thus never expected payment in return.
While we don’t know the year or model of the car, I’m going to assume it was in decent shape when it was bought, if only because it’s the only way to remotely justify Zoey’s whining here. Now, it’s tricky to investigate how much cars go for when you don’t have much more than a vague model description. But to get a general sense, here’s a list of VW Bugs for sale. Notice that most of them cost several thousand dollars. The only possible way I could see her getting that is if her rich stepfather bought it. And if that’s the case, that goes against everything established about him thus far! He’s supposed to be a controlling man who hates his stepdaughter rebelling against him, yet he gifts her with something that is (A) expensive and (B) enables her to continue to rebel? How does that make any sense?!
*rubs head* So yeah, Zoey FINALLY sets out from her “neighborhood of Big Expensive Houses”. You want to sound a little more condescending there, hon?
MISS JUDGMENTAL = 42
She thinks about how only one person cares about her anymore, despite previously mentioning friends at school. I guess they all just automatically would abandon her because she’s a vampire? I don’t know. Anyway, this person is her grandmother, our resident Magical Native American who, along with Nyx and Jack Twist, irritates the fuck out of me.
Ruin: This is just going to be the tip of the Ancient Culture Fetish the Cast ladies suffer from.
ZeldaQueen: As someone sporking through Divine by Mistake whoooo baby, don’t I know that!
So Zoey, who is coughing and hacking and can die at any moment, naturally decides that the best thing to do is take an hour and a half to drive out to visit her grandmother. That’s certainly logical!
Ruin: She could have easily driven herself to the HoN and phoned her grandmother to get her things from the Heffer house. It would have taken a lot less time than this whole rigmarole did.
ZeldaQueen: Or, if she wanted to see her grandmother before going to the HoN, she could have called her to meet somewhere between their locations. We know Zoey has a cell phone, since she turns it off! Does it not occur to her to even give her grandmother a call to let her know she’s stopping by, so she can make sure her grandmother won’t be out?
No, none of this occurs to her, not even when she realizes that her “body ached even worse than it did that time they hired that crazy new gym teacher who thought we should do insane weight circuits while she cracked her whip at us and cackled”. Mother of God, is there ANYONE Zoey isn’t going to insult by this point?
MISS JUDGMENTAL = 43
After telling us how she’s wearing a Borg Invasion 4D Hoodie and making an unfunny joke lampshading how she’s a Star Trek geek, she notes how the setting sun makes her skin feel weird. This actually is an interesting bit of detail about her turning into a vampire, since we’ll see that sunlight is uncomfortable for fledglings, so the idea of there being a lessening of sunlight causing her to feel different makes sense. It’s the only time we’ll actually hear about this, though.
We then jump to Zoey arriving at her grandmother’s place, whee. She tells us, in one of the few moments where she isn’t snide, how this place feels so kind and happy and welcoming for her. There’s a note from Grandma Redbird saying that she’s collecting wildflowers, and Zoey marvels about how her grandma just always seems to know when she’s coming over. Yeah, that’s because she’s a two-dimensional Kindly Grandmother character. She has no purpose but to speak random Cherokee, hold Zoey’s hand, and be all Warm and Comforting in a way that’s totally not scripted at all, why do you ask?
Ruin: It’s a mixture of wish-fulfillment and Magical Native American with our Sylvia, who I currently cannot visually perceive because of her two dimensions. It’s also plain unrealistic; it’s just so rare for a grandparent to be both so accepting and so on the ball with modern society, as well as so pandering to one out of three grandchildren. At least, in my experience, it is.
ZeldaQueen: I think it depends on the person. Grandma Redbird, however, is written as so ridiculously accepting of anything related to Zoey that she reminds me of the book Half Magic, when the children try to magically get their mother to believe them about a talisman they found and their mother just mindlessly starts agreeing to everything they tell her. They find it pretty unnerving, before they’re able to reverse it.
Ruin: Because it’s apparently so urgent (or, I assume it would be, except nothing about this narration is giving that impression), rather than save her energy and wait inside, she decides to go ahead and climb up to the bluffs.
ZeldaQueen: Or rather than call her grandmother! Granted, any of those options are terrible, since they’d all involve Zoey hanging around and wasting time she apparently doesn’t have, but you’re right. Actively setting out for her grandmother, just because she REALLY wants a hug, is wasting energy and wearing down Zoey’s body.
But hey, Zoey herself isn’t treating any of this as urgent! She is all ~~mystical~~ as she walks along, running her fingers over the plants and thinking about how she was there just a few weeks ago, before randomly thinking about how her stepfather hates her grandmother and seems to think she’s a witch. Oh, how novel! Tell me, is he going to build a bridge out of her?
STEREOTYPES MAMBO = 21
This causes Zoey to rub two brain cells together and realize something that Ruin and I have been shouting at her for several chapters.
“Then an amazing thought hit me and I came to a complete stop. My parents no longer controlled what I did. I wasn't going to live with them ever again. John couldn't tell me what to do anymore.”
ZeldaQueen: Hey, Ruin, how ‘bout that?
Ruin: About fucking time, Zoeybird. I’d swear you’re a masochist who gets off on complaining about her own misfortune, but you really are that stupid
ZeldaQueen: If she was so miserable about her home life as we’re to believe she is, you’d think “Hey, I’m free!” would be the FIRST thing she’d think! That’s what Harry thought when he found out he was a wizard and , very minor spoilers for Neferet’s Curse, that’s what the newly-vampired Neferet thought, after enduring endless abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father.
And lo, this is where the chapter ends, as Zoey stumbles off to find her grandmother. God damn it, why was this even a chapter?!
Ruin: I DON’T KNOW. THIS IS PADDING AND I AM ANGRY.
ZeldaQueen: As am I, but we must march onward! Rest up, for next chapter has our first taste of religion!fail.
Tired Metaphor - 11
Sledgehammer Of Symbolism - 0
Miss Judgmental - 43
As Paris In The Spring - 0
Stereotypes Mambo - 21
Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow - 2
SUBTLE FORESHADOWING - 1
Smells Like Teen Spirit - 4
Vampire Elitist Snobs - 2
All The Beautiful People - 1
Interfaith Smoothie - 0
AU Doesn’t Work Like That - 5
Speshul Snowflake - 0
My Deus Ex Machina Senses Are Tingling - 0
Let's Have A Ho-Down - 1