Betrayed: Slightly better than Marked

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBetrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast YA fantasy book reviewsBetrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Betrayed is the second book in the HOUSE OF NIGHT series by mother/daughter team P.C. and Kristin Cast. In the first book, Marked, Zoey Redbird discovered that she’s a fledgling vampYre, went off to vampyre boarding school, defeated Aphrodite (the beautiful stuck-up popular girl) and her minions, became the most popular (but not stuck-up) girl and set up her own minions friends in a position of power where they will rule the school justly and benevolently.

In this second installment, we find Zoey trying to recast her in-group (called the Dark Daughters) into a peer leadership group (not sure why she doesn’t start by changing the name). As Zoey is in the school library scouring the internet for sample charters, she meets Loren Blake, an adjunct teacher who is even more gorgeous and mysterious (he writes poetry by moonlight) than Erik, Zoey’s new boyfriend who she stole from Aphrodite. Like all heterosexual young men who meet Zoey, the teacher appears to be smitten. Now Zoey is juggling the three hottest guys in the universe.

Too bad that’s not her only problem (though this is good for the reader). More serious is that boys from Zoey’s not-quite-ex-boyfriend Heath’s football team are disappearing and turning up dead days later. The authorities suspect that vampyres might be to blame. Meanwhile, Zoey is seeing the ghosts (or undead bodies) of students who died when they didn’t make the Change. Also, her mentor Neferet is acting decidedly non-mentor-ish and her arch-nemesis Aphrodite is acting non-nemesis-ish. It’s all very strange. Plus, Zoey is increasingly having a problem with bloodlust as she quickly develops into the most powerful vampyre priestess in the world.

I was not impressed with Marked, the first book in the HOUSE OF NIGHT series mostly because P.C. and Kristin Cast brought us nothing new. It felt like nearly every Young Adult boarding school novel I’ve ever read rolled into one (just add vampYres,  a weird mishmash of Wiccan and Cherokee rituals, and some almost-oral-sex in the school hallway). The plot was predictable, the characters where stereotypes, and the magic was boring.

Betrayed, at least, begins to deviate slightly from the conventional boarding school plot. It bogs down during the pagan ritual scenes (collecting herbs, casting circles, calling on the goddess and the elements, etc.) but this time there’s a mystery to solve. There are still problems with predictability, obvious foreshadowing, and some really dumb plot elements such as several characters’ tendency to do or say incriminating things in public places where they can be seen or overheard and Zoey’s tendency to confront dangers by herself instead of getting help or reporting it to the authorities.

Fortunately, a few characters become a little more nuanced in Betrayed. Suddenly the dumb jock isn’t quite as dumb as we were led to believe, the stuck-up girl might not be completely evil, and Zoey’s mentor gets a little shady, too. Still, though, most characters feel typecast and the new characters, such as Aphrodite’s power-hungry parents — are complete caricatures.

But I am hard to please and I’m definitely not the target audience. I feel fairly certain that teens who liked Marked are going to like Betrayed at least as well. There’s a twist at the end that we saw coming but that will still make most readers want to move on to book three, Chosen. To those, teens, though, I’d like to say that there are much better Young Adult fantasy novels and we’d love to help you choose some.

I read the audiobook version of Betrayed which was narrated by Edwina Wren. Her Southern accents for a couple of the characters make me cringe, but I like the rest of her reading.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Oh, dear… I’m already flinching at the teacher/student dynamic. That bothers me. These come into, and flow out of, the used bookstore a lot, so they must be pretty popular.

    • I can see how they’d be popular with teenage girls. I actually up-rated the books just because I think they’ll hit the target audience, but I struggled with that because I personally think it’s drivel.

  2. Yeah, this is one of the series that I read and reviewed when I first started doing book reviews, and I reviewed it decently highly at the time. I strongly suspect if I read them again now, though, that my opinion will have changed drastically. I overlooked a lot of problems in the early books, and sad to say that even I found that the series started to drag and develop even worse problems as it went on.

    Maybe this series is a good candidate for rereview, in my case…

    • Actually, Ria, after I wrote my review of the third book, Chosen, which hasn’t been posted (it’s sitting in our editing queue) I read your review of the next book (Untamed) because I wanted to know if it got better (Chosen was horrible). Even though you rated it higher than I would, you addressed so many of the issues that I had mentioned and you said that Untamed was better than the previous books. (I have actually referred to your review in my review.)

      You convinced me to read Untamed which WAS much better (but still not good enough to recommend the series). Unfortunately, I am barely making it through the NEXT book, Hunted…

      • Oh, and you have a bad link in your review of Untamed. I tried to leave a comment at your site, but I don’t think it went through.

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