Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Crack

Are you a Grey’s fan? DVR every episode of Desperate Housewives? Is your Tivo clogged from one too many daytime soap operas?

Agent A reveal: I used to be this way about SO many shows. I'd put the kids to bed super early to tune into House. Planned my life around new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Glee. And I’m a Sex and the City whore (okay, not literally, people). I had to watch every episode (several times), box sets comprised the Christmas list when they were (finally!) released. I’ve seen the movies probably fifty a hundred times.

In recent years, my TV addiction has waned. But books? Now, that’s heroin compared to my social smoke with television.

And my current drug of choice—House of Night.


The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire -- that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It's tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.


Let me give you a little back story on my love hate LOVE hate love HATE LOVE affair with House of Night:

Three years ago, one of my students slammed the first six books of the series on my desk and ordered, “Read this.” Um…okay. I’m not a huge vampyre fan, but I tend to trust my kids’ judgment on books. If she was that adamant about me reading, well, far be it from me to decline free reads.

Marked started off with a bang. I was hooked, intrigued, I couldn’t stop reading…until chapter four. It picked up here and there, but for me, book one and half of book two was nothing short of total boregasm.

Agent A note: DO NOT LET THAT SWAY YOU. YOU WILL WANT TO READ ON.

Mid-book two, my mind perked, and I could not. Stop. Reading. I had to find out what happened to this vampyre and that fledgling and ohmygosh this person died and how is she alive again?! There are all these really cool vampyres to keep up with. And high priestesses. And the normal humans. And now red fledglings. And warriors. Wait. Where did these raven mockers come from? And who the heck is Kalona and what is he doing with Zoey?!?!?!

I tore through book three. Then book four. And book five. I was completely strung out. And that’s when my inner editor judgment got über hazy. The prose got sloppy. There was too much inner dialogue from Zoey. The POVs switched way too many times for me to possibly keep track of. Glaring editing mistakes. Things that would normally annoy me as a reader/writer? I ignored them. Any and all of them.

Why? Because the story, the characters, the fifty million plot lines—so, so GOOD. Thank the House of Night goddess I had the first six books in my possession. I think I might have experienced some serious DTs if I had to wait for any of those first ones.

Book seven was released the week after I finished book six. I practically broke down the doors of Sam’s Club and convinced the cashier that she needed to invest in HoN box sets for herself and the rest of her immediate and extended family.

And then P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast did something that should have been most unforgiveable.

They killed off my favorite character.

And it shattered my heart.

Well, that did it for me. Nope. I am NOT going to read any more House of Night or PC Cast books EVER.

Guess who was at Sam’s Club the day the eighth installment was released?

*inches hand up*

I read it in three sittings, the whole time criticizing everything, wondering WHY AM I READING THIS?!, swearing off HoN forever. And just as I get to the end and swear on my Eeyore collection I will NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NEVER read a House of Night novel again, the Cast duo does the unimaginable. It’s like they read my mind, they knew they were losing me, and they did just the thing that would make me go absolutely freaking nuts until the next book came out, those nine months a tortuous reminder of my last trimester of pregnancy.

I bought the ninth book the day it hit the shelves. Amazing. I tore through it. The high from reading it still lingers. And I know I’ll be banging down Sam’s Club door the day the next one is released.

I know I’m not the only one out there like this. So, I asked our SPIES and ANALYSTS if there was a book so addictive that they would buy the next installment the day it comes out (or line up at the bookstore, counting the seconds until it opens). Or a series that they're so hooked on that they can completely gloss over (or forgive) author/editor mistakes? Or even when the stories get super complicated and dramatic and to the point where they are asking, "WHY AM I READING THIS?" they still buy and read the next book.

Here’s what they had to say about their drug, er…book of choice.

Lynsay: The Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter. Marked in my calendar right now is the release date for the next book. I love all the different characters with their varying personalities; I always like a variety in the main friendship. If there is some obvious flaw in these books, I don't see it. Whether this is because it is nonexistent or because I am blinded by my love for them, I do not know. I love how all the books have a different plot, situation, and storyline, but they are connected by the characters and setting. Also, the whole secret spy school thing intrigues me immensely. I mean how cool is that? It's kind of reminiscent of Harry Potter to me in a way, besides the magic, but like the whole secret school, super out there curriculum, very mystic.

Katie: I’m not so addicted to books that I have to wait outside a book store for the next one. The one series that comes to mind when I think about “WHY AM I READING THIS” is the Fablehaven series. I stick with it becomes even though it gets me going I want to find out what happens. The author has done his/her job of getting me emotionally attached that I have to find out what happens.

Laura: The foundation of my reading life is built by these addictive or sometimes senseless book series. There are just so many, past and present. To date, The Hunger Games trilogy was the most addictive and all-consuming. I lost so much sleep when I was reading these books. The equivalent of these when I was a kid would certainly be the Heartland series and the Nancy Drew books. I was so set on becoming a horse riding detective. Then my foolish tween brain fell in love with The Immortals series by Alyson Noel. For a very short time, I do add. At the very top of my more recent guilty pleasures are most definitely Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. Sara Shepard can twist and turn her plotlines until they resemble a 90s soap opera that was canceled after the first season and I will still pre-order every single book. Yeah, I know. There’s no excuse for that. I think it’s an illness.

Lennon: I am a Twi-Hard and a Potterhead. Divergent is my favorite series of all time. And if you knew how crazy I am about Twilight, you would know how serious that is. I like Divergent because of the storyline and the setting. But also because the characters are so relatable and amazing. I overlook authors so called mistakes no matter what the book is. I don't think authors make mistakes. Writing is like art and art is uncensored, unedited, and perfect. I don't believe that books have mistakes. They are what they are.


Lissa: That had been for me Vampire Academy, anything by Courtney Summers or Kelley Armstrong. My fandom for those two authors, and I guess Richelle Mead along with that, overwrites all mistakes I could find, or overall dislike. When Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice and Bloodlines (Richelle Mead) came out, I bought them on the day of their release, even preordered Last Sacrifice. Even at those times I'd been noticing some faultiness in the plots and some annoyances with the characters, yet I still persisted to love the novels no matter what.

Rebecca: There are a few series I read that I love-love and would wait outside a bookstore anxiously awaiting opening time and they include the series: Hush, Hush (Becca Fitzpatrick), Summer (Jenny Han) and Perfect Chemistry (Simmone Elkeles). I love all three even if I haven’t been able to read all the installments yet. I read the first book in the series, Taken by Storm (Angela Morrison), and even though I didn’t like it, couldn’t connect with the story, was bored at times and gave it 2 stars, at one stage did find myself wanting to pick up the second book, just to see what was going to happen next.

Gracie: For me, the books like that are the ones that have the best characters. If these characters are awesome, fun "people" to hang out with throughout the book, then of course I would jump at the chance to hang out with them more. I guess the most obvious example is Harry Potter. I mean, at times the writing isn't as great as it could be but the characters are so fun and quirky and familyish that you can't help but want to read more and more about them.


So it seems that our teens will definitely forgive plot craziness, mistakes, and other annoyances for addictive stories and characters.

As for me? Why do I stick with HoN? Is it because Zoey is my sixteen year-old twin and says “super” almost as much as I do? Perhaps I get a fix off of the love triangles quadrilaterals pentagons everyone seems to have in the series. Or could it be that deep down I really do have an affinity for vampyres?

Maybe. But, I’m definitely with Gracie. I attribute my addiction to characters I fall in love with and a story that keeps my eyes sprinting to the last page. House of Night is not the most Printz-worthy prose. Your frustration levels may rise to a slam the book into a wall point. You’ll scream at characters, yell NOOOOOO one too many times.

But you’ll also fall in love.


House of Night is ADDICTIVE. But it’s a drug I wouldn’t want to live without. And October 6, 2012 (release date for Hidden) needs to hurry on up and get here or I’m going to go into some legit HoN withdrawls.

So? Got a book drug? What are you willing to ignore to get YOUR fix?

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