​​What would you do if you were marked?


P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast. Marked. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2007.

With the success Marked.jpgof the Harry Potter saga, and more recently the Twilight saga, a whole generation of youth has become emphatically fascinated with the world of magic and vampires. The advent of vampires, witches and wizards taking on young adult roles (opposed to the older images of Dracula, the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz, and Merlin) has allowed authors like P.C. Cast and daughter Kristin Cast to use the supernatural world of vampires to discuss important coming of age and new to a school issues through the eyes of societal outcasts, a position many young adults feel themselves to be in.

Marked is a narrative of a 16 year old girl, Zoey, who lives in a world where vampires are known to exist and live in what appears to be peaceful understanding with humans. The rules in this world are different from the usual vampire rules, where a person has to be changed into a vampire by a vampire. In Zoey's world it is a natural change that occurs in a small percentage of the population. Zoey's story with her being marked to become a vampire and moving to a special school to prepare her for her life as a vampire. The move to a new school is tough for Zoey, as it is for most young people who often feel confused and powerless in the decision. However this provides familiar emotions (like loneliness at the thought of losing your old friends) and events (like being rudely made aware of the pecking order in the new school) for young readers."I just wanted to attempt to be normal..." (6) laments Zoey as she contemplates the changes that are being forced upon her.

On top of adjusting to her new environment, Zoey is set apart from the rest of her class mates by her unique mark. This makes her the talk of the school when all she wants to do is just blend in. She is helped to transition by a new set of friends she makes, which include a country-bumpkin, a set of unconventional sassy twins, and a homosexual male, who are also misfits of sorts allowing for discussion on the not fitting into the "norm". The events in the story, while focused around Zoey, rely on the friendship from these three and relates to young people the importance of friendship in dealing with day to day problems and events. This importance of friendship is something that takes Zoey the whole book to embrace as she gets herself in tight spots through out the book by ignoring or denying the help of her friends. As her new best friend, Stevie Rae, reminds her at the close of the novel "Whatever happens, we're in it together" (306).

P.C. and Kristin Cast do something interesting with the structure of the vampire society. They make it a matriarchy, giving the book a feminist point of view and pitting it against the human society it coexists with. While it could have been better developed through out the story, the structure is an interesting point and would make for some interesting discussions on feminism verses the patriarchalsociety, or at least how feminism fits into a male driven society.

The language and some of the events in the book might make it something that is hard to teach in a class. The Cast's use language the way it is spoken by young people, including slang terms and swear words, while also discussing alcohol, sex, and drugs. This provides a good opportunity to discus the dangers and/or safe practice of such event, however the detail that is given about these topics in the book could make parents and administrators uneasy or objectionable to the books use in the classroom.

Recommendations for Teachers

Teachers who are planning to teach Marked in their classroom will be able to teach their students some valuable life lessons such as, respect, honor, and integrity. This novel can be read along with other vampire novels to compare and contrast the differences of the vampire cultures. Other books that could be used are the Twilight saga, The Blue Blood series, and The Night World. For example, in all three of these novels / series the way that a person becomes a vampire is differs. In the Twilight saga the person has to be bitten, in The Night World the person has to be bitten and then they have to drink vampire blood and there are those who are born that way, and in The Blue Blood series it is though birth that a vampire spirit is revitalized (fallen angel). external image BlueBloodsSeries.jpg

Other differences are-

1. How they become vampires and what are they.
2. How vampires die.
3. How vampires survive.
4. How vampires view themselves and how others view them.

The teacher can also teach their students to about prejudice towards people who are different or misunderstood. The implications of doing what everyone else is doing and the consequences that may result as well as being societal outcasts are additional topics for discussion and / or writing prompts.

One problem that teachers may encounter may be the objections of parents of their students and / or school administration.

About P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

How well does the Mother / Daughter writing team of P.C. and Kristin Cast work together? So well that they finish each other’s sentences. This writing team defines the concept of team in that they both admit they need each other to make the House of Night series of books the success that it is. With P.C. Cast writing the first draft and daughter, Kristin acting as editor and “culture cop” the team works together to create young adult novels that have captured the imaginations of PCBIO1.jpgmany young adult readers.

Prior to co-authoring the House of Night series P.C. has written and published fantasy and paranormal romance stories along with teaching high school English for fifteen years. In fact, it was her agent’s suggestions that she write a series about a vampire finishing school that led her to write the first book in the series Marked. Her experience as a high school teacher helped her to develop the setting for the House of Night and her knowledge of human physiology, which she gained from her biologist father, helped her to bring the fledgling vampyres to life. P.C. lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her Scottie dogs and her cat Patchy Poo the Pud.

o-author Kristin Cast’s role in the creation of the House of Night series began years before she was actually co-authoring4548138.jpg the series. Her own experiences during her teen years became the inspiration for her mother to create the character of Zoey Redbird, the heroine of the series. While fulfilling her duties of editor and “culture cop” Kristin is a communications major at the University of Tulsa. She has won awards for her poetry and served as the editor for her high school magazine as well as editor of her high school newspaper.

The setting for the House of Night is located in the heart of the Bible belt in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the hometown of both P.C. and Kristin. Although they have faced some opposition to their series, they both believe that the issue of religion within their books helps to highlight questions of tolerance and acceptance. The same questions faced by many teens as they make their way to adulthood.

House of Night Series By P.C. and Kristen Cast


Interview with P.C. and Kristin Cast about their book Marked, the first in the House of Night series.


Meet the Fledglings at the House of Night

A podcast "advertising" Marked

Additional Resources:
House of Night Series- Everything you need to know about the House of Night created by the co-authors.
P.C's Blog - Written by author and former educator P.C. Cast
P.C.'s Website - Learn more about co-author P.C. Cast
House of Night MySpace page- Send the authors a message or see what other readers are saying about their books.
Macmillan Speakers - Learn how to bring this author to your event.
Goodreads.com - Reviews from other readers.
Amazon Review- Review from Amazon.com
vampire books- other vampire books
vampire Library- more vampire books

Melissa Anderson, Matt Milanowski, Katherine Westveer
See our other reviews - Persepolis I, Persepolis II