01/03/2011. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
Untamed (House Of Night series book 4) by P.C. and Kristen Cast. pub: Atom/Little Brown. 411 page small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 5.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-905654-56-7.
check out websites: www.atombooks.co.uk, www.littlebrown.co.uk and www.houseofnightseries.co.uk
Many books are labelled as ‘coming of age’ novels. What this means can be fairly nebulous, though most would agree it is about the transition into adulthood. If so, are they books aimed at the young adult to help them through the crisis point of their life, that difficult time when they don’t see the point of parents or school? Perhaps they are worthy tomes, warning the child of the dangers they may face if they fail to heed the warnings of their elders. Who wants to read those? ‘Lord Of The Flies’ by William Golding is often cited as a classic coming of age novel in which youths have to learn to cope with a situation they are totally unprepared for and at which they fail. Those who choose to read the book (and I am well aware that it is often used in schools) may regard it more as an anthropological study and a lesson on the shallowness of the veneer of society. No young adult would read it expecting to learn lessons for their own lives. Often, fantasy quest novels take an unprepared young person from a comfortable childhood and expose them to all kinds of danger along a journey into adulthood. In the early tales of this kind, the obstacles could be seen as allegories for the hidden problems of emerging into adulthood such as the taking of responsibility and leadership. The quest for the magical item would have the same status as in tribal societies of killing the bear or wolf, returning from battle with your first scalp or getting laid for the first time. It is a shame that more recent quest novels have degenerated into pure adventure and often the characters seem unchanged at the end.
In modern times, we have other rites of passage. Youth, though, tries to take the prizes without proper ceremony. The first visit to the pub is replaced by the surreptitious purloining of the vodka bottle from the drinks cabinet, the first driving lesson is preceded by the joy riding experience, the first sex is grabbed behind the bushes in the park rather waiting for societies rituals of consent. Only voting for the first time is left as a rite of passage and many youngsters can’t be bothered with that.
Young adult novels tend to walk the line between the two states of child and adulthood. The readers already entering adolescence want to see how fictional counterparts handle situations they hope to find themselves in, especially regarding the opposite sex, while older readers want a good story and a reminder that maybe they didn’t make quite such a mess of it as they thought at the time. ‘Untamed’ is the fourth novel in the ‘House Of Night’ series where most of the principle characters are undergoing change. The narrator, Zoey Redbird, ended the previous book in this series, ‘Chosen’, believing that she had made every mistake in the book. As a result, she had no friends and definitely no boyfriends. The only creature that still seemed to be on her side was her cat.
Although sixteen year-old, Zoey begins the book feeling sorry for herself and makes the decision that she has to face her fears and take on the responsibilities that Nyx, goddess of the vampyres, has burdened her with for Zoey is Marked. Her body is not only undergoing the changes that turn her into a woman, it is also changing her into a vampyre. She and her estranged friends are all fledglings as the House of Night, a school for those who will make this second change. Her decision is to face her friends and tell them all the secrets she has been keeping from them, the biggest one of which is that their friend, Stevie Rae, is not dead as they thought, but changed into a different kind of vampyre. Also that Neferet, the High Priestess of the school, has turned away from Nyx and is trying to resurrect a long buried demon.
Everything in these novels revolves around the teen-agers and their attempts to take on the responsibilities of adulthood and put right the mess adults have made. The action takes place over a very short period of time – less than a week in this book. The characters are extremely plausible teenagers but they do tend to spend too much time talking about things rather than getting things done. Perhaps this is a sign of their naivety in hoping things will right themselves if they ignore them. Unfortunately they don’t, they get worse as along with the loss of childhood also goes the loss of innocence.
These books are getting darker in nature and now have a ‘Not Suitable For Younger Readers’ on the back. They are still addictive.
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