Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Untamed and Hunted by PC and Kristin Cast


"A week ago Zoey had a group of special friends, three boyfriends and a (kinda) clear conscience. Now she has none of the above. Luckily ice-queen Aphrodite is showing signs of melting and ex-roomie Stevie Rae isn't as dead as she'd thought. Though Stevie's now hanging out in tunnels with freaks - gross. If she can get them to listen, Zoey will need all her friends as events take a frightening turn at the House of Night school for vampyres. Shocking true intentions are about to come to light, loyalties will be tested and an ancient evil is about to rise again. Some days being special just doesn't seem all that"

Untamed is the fourth book in the House Of Night series, based on the idea of a vampire finishing school. I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, but the second and third were better, but something about this book isn't quite so good. Untamed sees Zoey trying to make up for her mistakes in Chosen, trying to win back her friends and boyfriend(s?) as well as attempting to stop the evil, and increasingly crazy, Neferet.

Where friendships are concerned Zoey seems to be growing a lot and the development between her and Aphrodite in particular is good and interesting. This book sees things quieten down slightly where the boys are concerned, with Erik and Heath both furious and hurt. We're starting to see Neferet's big picture now too, and it's not a pleasant one. Luckily for Zoey, she's got the power to try and stop her. Or at least keep her friends safe until she finds a way to do so.

I like this series, and there is enough of a decent plot for me to keep wanting to read, but the language at times is very child friendly and verging on ridiculous (the word 'bullpoopy' appears several times and each time it's used I want to smack the speaker), yet sex is mentioned much more freely. Untamed has the introduction of several things clearly setting up for the rest of the series. There are a few new characters here, most of them a fairly welcome addition, if a little bit strange (like the nuns for instance. Yes I'm serious). Most of the characters are still a little flat and shallow, but there is just enough for you to care about them. Not my favourite in the series so far, but it has some okay moments. 5/10


"'The door closed with a sickening thud of finality, shutting my friends out and leaving me alone with my enemy, a fallen angel, and the monstrous bird creature his ancient lust had created. Then I did something I'd only done twice before in my life. I fainted.' It's all happening, though Zoey Redbird wishes it wasn't. She has her friends back, which is great. But a dark angel has taken over the House of Night, supported by High Priestess Neferet. Not so great. This leaves Zoey hiding out with the (supposedly friendly) red fledglings in Tulsa's prohibition-era tunnels. The not greatness continues. Zoey has some boy-thoughts to distract her, with a chance to make-up with super-hot-ex Eric. But thoughts of the archer that died, semi-permanently, in her arms also keep distracting her. Then he shows up as Neferet's newest minion. Well, hell. Zoey and friends need a plan to put things right, soon, if she's to keep both head and heart intact."

Hunted once again picks up just after the events of the previous book. Having escaped alive from the House of Night Zoey and her friends have arrived in the underground tunnels and have now got to decide what to do next. A lot of the first few chapters has Zoey (with the help of a couple of others) explaining what's happened to everyone else. For the readers, this is nothing new and gets very tedious and repetitive. Not all of it had to be spelled out again so clearly and it could have done with some serious editing. Thrown in to the middle of the explanation is a very unnecessary three-some scene which Zoey and several others witness. Doesn't make for a good start.

Having almost had a lighter dose of guy drama in Untamed, this sees Zoey back to having three boyfriends with no real lead up. One of the most frustrating things in this series is that when Zoey is with a guy (whichever one it is) she tends to be thinking along the lines of 'oh he's the one! Why do I bother with the others?' But two pages later she'll be with one of the others, and it's the same thing. She keeps insisting to herself that she's a 'good girl' she doesn't play around, but that's all she does, she never says no. She could try saying no to a guy once in a while, it does happen! Instead she allows herself to get tangled up with three guys, all of whom are tough guys and would be happy to take the others apart for touching her. And it's all just a repetitive circle, it doesn't change form guy to guy. She fights and makes up with all of them, usually by making out.

And the boy drama doesn't include new evil, fallen angel Kalona, whom Zoey finds herself deeply drawn too. Neferet is involved with Kalona as well as working with him, and she's decidedly unhappy about his being drawn to Zoey. As if she didn't hate Zoey enough already.

One of the few guys around that isn't all over Zoey (and straight) is Darius. He's a warrior who was introduced to us a couple of books ago, and when he was, he was very much a warrior. There were signs of it in Untamed, but in Hunted he is almost a different person. When eve he's around Aphrodite he stops being a warrior and goes all, well, giggly with her. Very playful and stupid, when he should be remembering his duty. I liked him when he was introduced, but now he's verging on annoying, switching to being the warrior guy when he's needed to fight, but otherwise he's a teenager again (which he isn't) and takes away the edge that was there with the appearance of his character. The other characters are cliched and unbelievable, with the gay guys way too feminine and only caring about fashion, and the language used by the black characters is the only thing that's more cliched (and very annoying to read).

This book covers no more than about 48 hours in Zoey's life, and it really starts to drag. There is a lot of talk, and a lot of repetitive talk at that, about what's going on, how much trouble they're in, how hard it's going to be for them all to survive and yet very little action. And at least half of this book is dedicated to Zoey and her boy troubles again. This series has always been a bit cliched and predectable, but this book is ridiculous. Readers do not constantly need to be told that Damien and Jack are gay, and we do by now know that Neferet is evil and all around her is badness. There is very, very little plot development in this book, and it's something that could easily be tagged on to the previous book, or the next one, and throw the rest away. I'm hoping that Tempted shows some real improvement because otherwise I will be dropping the series. If you want to read great YA vampire books, read the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Or the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Both have more much kick and less whining. 2/10

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