Every book is a new journey to embark on. I mainly read romances, but I dabble in other genres too.
This is a smidge better than Marked, only because there is a little less slut shaming, and Zoey is a little less judgmental about people.
That isn't saying much though.
Zoey and her friends still call Aphrodite "hag bitch from hell" or some variant whenever they can. Granted, Zoey does start to feel sorry for Aphrodite and sympathizes with her once she sees how poorly Aphrodite is treated by her parents, BUT... Zoey still manages to say things like this:
The dress was simple, but perfect. It had a round neckline that was low, but not as low as ho-ish Aphrodite's ritual dresses had been.
I tapped my pen against the blank notebook page. Okay, I'd been kissing and messing around a little with Erik some during the past month. Yes, I liked it. No, it hadn't gone very far. One reason was that despite recent evidence to the contrary, I didn't usually act like a slut. Another reason was that I was still way too aware that I'd accidentally watched Aphrodite, Erik's very ex-girlfriend, on her knees in front of him trying to give him a blowjob, and I didn't want there to be any confusion on Erik's part that I was definitely not a stank slut like Aphrodite the Ho. (I ignored the memory of my rubbing the bulge in Heath's pants.) So, I was definitely attracted to Erik, who everyone thought was my official boyfriend, even though we hadn't done much about that attraction.
I don't know what to say other than that this is bizarre. It's like the authors don't want you to forget that Aphrodite is a slut, and Zoey is not a slut.
Yet, Zoey does "act like a slut" since in this book, she strings along three guys, Erik, Heath, and Professor Loren—THAT'S RIGHT, EVEN A TEACHER! And there's no real reason why she feels "torn" between them. She likes Erik, because he's the hottest guy in the school, Heath because he's hot and she likes drinking his blood, and Loren because he's the hottest professor in the school. She doesn't have an emotional attachment for them. It's largely based on attraction and lust. So I don't get how Zoey gets a free pass for calling other girls sluts for making out with their boyfriends when she's trying to hit on three guys. It's very hypocritical.
And more about Loren: I don't understand how the authors would think it's appropriate to feature a student flirting with their teacher in a teen novel. I know in reality that students can get crushes on their teachers, but the flirting between Zoey and Loren is unbelievable. The most alarming instance was when Loren asks Zoey if he could see her tattoos. Zoey agrees and pushes down her sleeve so that her shoulder and back are exposed, and then after he looks, Loren recites a poem that's from a Japanese poet and is "about how his lover looked naked under the full moon" (p53). Why alarm bells aren't ringing in Zoey's head I have no idea. Heck, she even wanted to kiss him after he looked at her tattoos. Stevie Rae even thought it was romantic once Zoey told her about it. Yuck.
Zoey still has the qualities of a mary-sue. Characters still repeat how special and unique she is, and she always gets all the powers. The authors make it seem like she can do no wrong.
Frankly, there's no depth to any of the characters. Damien is only there to be the gay character, because the authors constantly remind us he's gay. Stevie Rae is there to be the friendly country girl. The Twins, Erin and Shaunee, are there so the authors can show that they're not racist. It annoyed me when they said things like this, because it comes off as preachy:
"Damn shame when something happens to any cute guy—no matter what color, Twin," Erin said. "We shouldn't discriminate. Cuteness is cuteness."
Frankly, the only characters I was interested in was Neferet and Aphrodite. They're still flat characters, but they weren't annoying like Zoey's friends.
Another thing I didn't like was the excessive name dropping like when Zoey says that she had to go to an American Eagle to buy a sweater so she can feel better. It makes it seem like the authors are trying hard to be hip with the teens.
There's also a lot of reviewing of the events from the last novel. Zoey goes over every single little thing, and it can be annoying if you read the first book.