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Marked is the first novel in the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast, following the story of sixteen year old Zoey as she becomes a vampyre. It was recommended to me by a fellow Dooyooer, and fellow Twilight fan - I love that saga (as you may know from previous reviews!), and having read it all I was feeling a little bereft. As I did with Harry Potter, I seem to get addicted to fantasy sagas. So House Of Night sounded like it would be right up my street.
In the world of the House of Night novels, vampyres are known about by humans and in fact hold many high status positions in the world of the arts. You become a vampyre not by being bitten, as with most stories, but by being Marked by a Tracker. Zoey is Marked, and once this has happened she has to move into the House of Night vampyre training school, where she will complete the Change to vampyre and study subjects appropriate to her new life. Along the way she makes new friends and enemies, and discovers exciting new powers.
Firstly, these novels are not like the Twilight saga. The premise is completely different, in that vampyres are not the hidden and terrifying creatures you find in most vampire novels. Also, Zoey is a VERY different narrator to Bella. This was one thing that I really didn't like about Marked at first. Zoey is much more obviously a teenager. Her vocabulary is full of teenage slang, and she has a bit of a stroppy attitude - she says or thinks "Nuh UH" an awful lot. I did however get used to this after a while, which definitely improved my enjoyment of the novel.
The story itself is fairly lightweight, at least in this first novel. There are no heavy declarations of love, and only one real edge of the seat scene, which is nowhere near as scary as other vampire scare scenes can be. That said, I was hooked on the story fairly quickly, and I'm sure this is merely an introductory novel. In this sense I feel it can be compared to Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone - in that book Harry is introduced to the world of Hogwarts, as Zoey is introduced to the House of Night in Marked, which also gives the reader an introduction to this world.
That said, there were times when I felt the introductions weren't sufficient. As vampyres are known about, Zoey does of course already have some knowledge of them. So there are some things which are not made clear to the reader as her narrative style doesn't really cater for her stopping to explain something to her readers.
The back of my copy of Marked has a warning on it stating it is not suitable for younger readers. These are very much teenage books, and personally I felt the style reminded me more of teenage novels than of adult novels. That is one important difference between this and Twilight - although Stephenie Meyer's style isn't very sophisticated, it is not blatantly a teenage narrator (well, except when Jacob takes over from Bella in Breaking Dawn). Yet Meyer's novels are very chaste and have only a few instances of mild swearing, making the majority of them suitable for readers as young as 12 in my opinion (except, again, Breaking Dawn). Marked, however, does have a lot of stronger swearing and very obvious sexual references. The warning should advise parents of this, but I find it odd that it is written in a style designed for teenagers yet I would not advise this for under sixteens.
I enjoyed Marked, and will definitely be continuing with the series - I have the second one ready to read. It doesn't have the same strong appeal as Twilight for me, this is not going to be another obsession, but I liked the book and the different take on the vampire world. It is definitely worth a read if you like Twilight or similar fantasy novels, but don't expect too much.