Destined continued the story of Zoey and her friends in their battle against Nefret and Darkness, and I feel that it was another great entry in the series. However, I must tell you that these books are intended to be read in order. If you haven't read the rest of the House of Night books and you pick up Destined it might not make sense.
Personally? I was so excited that I downloaded it for Kindle the night it released. Not a bad choice for my first official purchase.
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
In Destined, the forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.
But is Zoey really safe? Does she truly know those who are closest to her? And will love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness? Find out what s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.
Destined had me clutching my Kindle from start to finish. There was a lot that happened in a short period of time, which has pretty much become a trademark of the series at this point. We find out more about the seer stone. The ramifications of Rephaim's transformation into a human are dealt with in great detail. An important member of the Vampyre High Council comes to the House of Night. A new girl with a potentially interesting power is introduced. Loyalties are tested and new alliances are made...
The book definitely does not lack new developments. Yet at the same time we see just as many internal struggles. Friendships are strained when characters try to reach out and grow in new and interesting ways. The question of what it means to be, and to have, family is examined in several very interesting ways. And there are some pretty interesting confrontations for those who like the magic system or watching the Guardians / Warriors fight.
I know I am being very vague, but it's hard to talk about the plot in great detail without referencing earlier books and therefore increasing the risk of spoilers more and more.
House of Night has a huge cast and one of the things I've began noticing the Casts doing in their series that I really like is giving various characters the spotlight so that they make more sense and can grow. Fans of Erik, Shaunee, Kalona and Lenobia in particular are in for some real treats this go around. Also, there is a development in the struggle between Dragon Lankford and Rephaim that made me shed tears by the end of the novel. Very touching, moving, beautiful stuff.
I liked seeing Stevie Rae step up as the high priestess for the depot group. It's usually Zoey who does most of the major stuff and seeing it be Stevie Rae instead was refreshing. I think that she does a pretty good job, especially considering that she really does need to step up since Zoey is dealing with so much grief at this point.
As for Zoey herself, I felt that the Casts did a good job with how she felt about the person she lost in the last book. It was tinged with pain, guilt and anger which made sense considering the history between the characters in question. I also feel that she may be going through another cycle of immature decision making, though, since she continues to try and keep Stark cut out from what is going on when it is his job to protect her. Her niavete may eventually place them both in danger.
I really liked watching Rephaim adjust to being a human. The scenes from his POV made me ache for him and I think a great job was done in showing how loyal he is to Stevie Rae and the rest of his new friends, how afraid he is that people may still not trust / accept him and showing the prejudices that people do still have against him. The consequences of who he was earlier in the series have not just magically disappeared. Instead, they continue to make him extremely interesting and by far my favorite character. (BTW, Rephaim fans. You will bit your nails through the latter half of this book. That's all I'll say... Read and find out why.)
First up, I want to give a shout out about the new villain / love interest / what the heck?!, Aurox. I like how the Casts have set him up. I'm not quite so crazy over what he means for the series, though. Does Zoey really need another guy to swoon over? I quit caring about "Zoey and her merry men" a long, long time ago. Her inability to remain loyal or faithful to anyone might seem "normal" for a teenager, but as a person reading an urban fantasy / paranormal series where romance is intended to be a big part of it, I am completely indifferent to her plight (romantically) by this point.
I don't like the way that the Casts are setting Stark up to be potentially villainized. If they decide they don't want Zoey and Stark together, I feel that this plot strategy would be cheap and it will definitely irritate me if it does happen. There are lots of reasons that a girl and a guy might not work out. It's not always because "the dude was a jerk". My irritation may well come from reading a lot of contemporary YA, though, so make your own judgement call here as you wish.
Aphrodite and Darius are the same as always. I think they are suppose to represent stability, but the trouble I have with their relationship is that Aphrodite says jump and Darius jumps. I know the Casts get a lot of slack for being feminists in their writing and it's situations like this that lend themselves to kindling for that. I certainly don't want to see them break up, but their relationship does not have as much depth as it could, in my opinion.
And then, of course, there is Stevie Rae and Rephaim. As you all likely know, they are the reason I am still so totally hooked on this series. As usual, they did not disappoint. They just keep getting better and better to read about. The stress between them over Rephaim's feelings about his father was very moving, as was Rephaim's willingness to put up with so much crap as he tries to walk the path of the Goddess so that they can be together. I think it's interesting how the dynamic has shifted between them so that in the beginning it was her doing so much for him and by this point he carries just as much or more of who / what they are as she does. I only hope it does not end up like Aphrodite and Darius, or that Stevie Rae does not eventually pull a Zoey and start falling for someone else. That would annoy me.
As usual, I really enjoyed the latest book in the House of Night series. The pages zipped by fast and I was at the end before I realized I had hit it. As in previous books, the Casts have left us with a transitional cliffhanger. We know who is okay and who is not, but we are also left with the gang on their way to the next step in the battle against Neferet. I think this is an area where the House of Night shines. I always close the books satisfied with what I have read, but at the same time already eager to dive into the next part of the story.
If you are a fan of the House of Night series, Destined is probably already on your TBR or you've already read it. If you've been neutral on the series for a while, you should look at reviews and see whether the progressions are going in ways that might interest you. And if you've never read the House of Night books, Destined is not the place to start. You need to grab a copy of Marked and go from there. Which I highly recommend, because despite what anyone else might say, this is far and away one of my favorite series.
Destined is an excellent installment in a series that I totally love. In my opinion, the books just keep getting better and better. The only big problem I had with Destined was that it ended. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.