Chosen is the third book in the HOUSE OF NIGHT young adult paranormal romance series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. Don’t start here if you haven’t yet read Marked and Betrayed. But, actually, I don’t recommend that you start anywhere unless your tastes run completely contrary to mine (which is, of course, quite possible and utterly understandable). I got the series on audio from Audible and my library and at this point, frankly, I’m just reading them so I can get them reviewed for FanLit. I’m not enjoying them. So, let me just tell you why and you can perhaps determine whether you’ll feel differently. Obviously, many people do because HOUSE OF NIGHT is popular with the YA demographic.
Okay, so in this installment, Zoey has figured out that her mentor Neferet is actually her nemesis while Aphrodite, who Zoey thought was her nemesis, is actually her ally. Zoey has discovered that the kids who die at the House of Night are being turned into some kind of undead army and that Neferet has something to do with this. Meanwhile Zoey juggles the three hottest guys in the universe. By the end of Chosen, however, she makes some bad mistakes (some are stupid, some are understandable) and ends up destroying most of her relationships.
The major plot is actually not too bad. Bad mentors and undead armies are pretty cool. But there are just too many problems that I can’t get past. One is Zoey’s character development. Frankly, she’s turning into a bitch. At the beginning of Chosen she starts off by complaining about the birthday gifts her friends gave her because her birthday is on December 24 and all the birthday presents have a winter theme. Gee, Zoey. If my friends bought me $300 black leather stiletto boots, a cashmere scarf, a silver necklace, (etc), I really wouldn’t be complaining, even if they did have snowmen on them. You bitch. Fortunately Zoey realizes she’s being a jerk, but just because she knows it doesn’t make her more likeable. (This is really too bad because I actually liked her earlier in the series).
Next is the “ho” issue. Zoey hasn’t made any promises to anyone or taken any sort of vows, so she has the right to do whatever she wants with whomever she wants, but Zoey doesn’t see it that way. She thinks of herself as a “ho,” calls herself a “ho” several times, talks about it constantly, denigrates herself and, by doing so, becomes even more disagreeable. I think the love/sex rectangle is supposed to be titillating for teenage girls, but I am just annoyed. C’mon, Zoey, just embrace your singleness and stop whining. (But still, getting it on with a teacher is really stupid!!)
My other major problem with the series is that as it progresses, many of the writing quirks and petty annoyances become not so petty anymore. There are several of these, but I’ll just highlight a few:
The way Cast writes about Christianity is ugly, mean-spirited and false. Christians are portrayed as narrow-minded, unloving, and judgmental. Zoey says the Christian god is a “nameless God on High who looks down on me with a frown and a notebook he’s all too ready to fill out passes to hell on” and that he “denigrates women” and that his believers “look down on” those who believe otherwise. Yes, I know there are some people who call themselves Christians who are like this, but this is not Christianity and, in fact, is the antithesis of Christianity. God gave humans two commands that sum up the rest of His commands: 1. Love God 2. Love others (“others” refers to all people — not just other Christians or those who think like Christians do). Logically, this means that people who are acting mean and unloving and judgmental are not acting like Christians. I dismissed this issue in the first two HOUSE OF NIGHT books, assuming that the so-called “Christian” that Zoey knows (her step-father) is just some sort of cult follower, but in Chosen it gets worse. Ironically, Zoey portrays her goddess Nyx as loving, caring, and allowing humans free will — the exact way that the Christian God describes himself. So far, Cast’s portrayal of Christianity has been wrong and offensive, but my friend Ria says this improves in the next book, Untamed.
Likewise, Cast’s portrayal of homosexuals is annoying. It seems that every time the two homosexual characters show up, Zoey has to say something about them being homosexual. The purpose is to show us how tolerant Zoey (or the author) is because she has gay friends, but by constantly pointing it out with phrases such as “overtly gay,” “not a fluttery-acting gay kid,” “with a flourish that only a gay boy can pull off,” “way too gay,” etc, etc, it makes it sound like the homosexuality is what defines them. I don’t think this is the right message. (Ria mentions this problem, too, and I should say at this point that she likes these books better than I do, so I recommend you read her reviews for a second opinion.)
A similar problem which I mentioned in a previous review and which Ria also points out (I swear that I wrote this review before reading hers and that I only added these comments later), is Zoe’s constant insistence that she’s a geek because she watches/reads certain “geek culture” movies/books. Every time she mentions Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, etc, I can predict that she’ll next say “yes, I’m a geek.” Sorry, Zoey. Everybody has seen those movies. It doesn’t make you a geek and your constant insistence that you’re a geek/nerd doesn’t impress those of us who really do consider ourselves part of that culture.
Another huge issue, which I mentioned in my reviews of the previous books, is that many of the plot twists rely on characters being seen or heard doing incriminating things (like having sex or planning evil deeds) in public. Seriously? How many people leave the doors to their rooms open in a crowded school when they have illicit sex or conversations about their unethical activities? That’s just stupid plotting and, more than any other problems with these books, I really can’t get past this.
Another plot problem (and this is the last one I’ll mention) is that it’s all so boringly familiar for teenage paranormal romances. Zoey keeps telling us that what’s happening to the students at the House of Night sounds like a “ridiculous vampyre cliché” or “some kind of horrible vampyre cliché.” Um… well… if it looks like a duck…
Edwina Wren continues to do a pretty good job with the narration. Characters are given “stock” voices (the Okie, the stuck-up girl, the gay boy, the black girl, etc.), but this fits the book, I guess.
Later updates: I read the next book, Untamed. As Ria said, some of these problems do get better, especially the nastiness about Christianity. In fact, Zoey does an about-face on this issue! However, the other problems remain and in fact get worse in the next book, Hunted.