Untamed: An improvement, but that’s not saying much

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsUntamed by P.C. CastUntamed by P.C. Cast

Untamed is the fourth book in P.C. and Kristen Cast’s HOUSE OF NIGHT paranormal romance series for young adults. I haven’t enjoyed any of the books so far and I nearly gave up on them halfway through the previous book, Chosen. However, I keep soldiering on because I’m downloading them for free from my library and they’re so silly and fluffy that it’s possible to listen to them with only 1/4 of my brain, freeing me up to do some serious multi-tasking while listening. Also, I really want to get them reviewed for FanLit. I mean, that is one of our site’s goals — to read bad books so you don’t have to.

OK, so in my review of the last book, Chosen, I gave a long list of complaints. I wonder if many previous reviewers have given the same list because, it’s really weird, but Cast actually fixes a lot of these problems in Untamed!

As just one example — the one that’s most noticeable — I complained about the nasty judgmental way that Christianity was portrayed in the series up to this point. Suddenly, in Untamed, Zoey and some of her fledglings go to volunteer at a cat shelter and are horrified to find out that it’s run by Catholic nuns. When the nuns accept and love the kids (even though they’re vampyres, tattooed, gay, goddess-worshipers, etc), Zoey and friends are stunned. When the nun tells Zoey that “judge not” goes both ways, Zoey admits that she was wrong to paint all Christians with the same broad brush. This is such a reversal in attitude that I can’t help but assume it’s a reaction to reader feedback (but it doesn’t really matter if it is or not). So, the nun turns out to be a trusted and treasured ally and from then on there’s a weird sort of melding of Catholicism, Cherokee mysticism, and goddess worship that is theologically unsound, but at least the Casts addressed the offensive anti-Christian vibe.

There are other problems that are fixed, too. The gay and nerd jokes decrease and the romantic angst and love triangle is also toned down. (Unfortunately, they reappear in the next book, Hunted. I’m starting to suspect that these are used for filler when there’s not much plot.) Also, Zoey finally starts telling her friends what’s going on, so there’s less of the annoyingly unnecessary tension between them.

The plot of Untamed is the best yet. Starting about halfway through the book, it’s intense and scary and there’s a lot of significant plot advancement. I can’t say that I really like the plot (teenagers at vampyre boarding school in danger of being taken over by fallen angels), but those who do will be glad that it’s moving right along at this point.

We still have one major issue that I keep mentioning. So many of the important discoveries rely on characters stupidly being overheard or seen doing things that any rational person would not do or say in public areas. It’s impossible to get lost in a story that’s plotted so sloppily (even if I did like it, which I don’t).

Bottom line: This is an improvement over the previous book, but that’s not saying much. I still would not recommend this series. I’m half way through the next book and I’m suffering. If I finish it, it’s only because I’m reading bad books so you don’t have to.

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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. Marion /

    I’m glad they finally ditched some of the bias anyway. I’ve never read any of these, but I notice that we have two sets of the them at the used bookstore and they don’t sell; maybe that’s a clue. There are so many better-written YA books out there right now!

  2. I’ve never really been able to get into Cast (other than Goddess of Spring, which I thought was fun), and I’ve tried three or four times. Just not for me, I guess.

  3. Marion, that’s surprising because I think these are popular with teens. Maybe not a lot of teens coming through the store? Or maybe your teens are more sophisticated?

    Kelly, not for me, either…. I’m ready to give up.

    • Marion /

      We get quite a few teens and moms buying books for teens. These just sit. The Collins trilogy flies off the shelves as you would imagine; some of the vampire-themed ones go; this one seems to sit. Another person we can’t keep on the shelves is Scott Westerfield.

  4. Maybe teens don’t go to the used bookstore. And I don’t mean that as a knock on them–I think I was in college when I first learned that this wondrous thing existed.

  5. Well, I think this means that your teens just have good taste. The books you mention as popular are good.

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