Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jessica Rules the Dark Side

I got this ARC courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group at ALA New Orleans. I had already been given book 1 and figured why not get a book 2 freebie? And I’m glad I did. I ended up liking the second book a little bit more than the first one (the post before this one is about book 1).
The end of book 1 finished with Jessica convincing Lucius to honor their marriage pact. And this book begins not too long after their royal, vampire wedding. This book is a little different because it switches points of view a lot. The first book was mostly Jessica, with some book quotes and some letters written from Lucius to his uncles. This book is Jessica, Lucius, the best friend (Mindy), and Raniero (the best man/new character/ Lucius’ cousin). I love the other characters. And I really came to love Mindy. She reminded me a lot of Caroline in the show the Vampire Diaries; she’s kind of the ditzy/girly character you expect to not like, but then end up loving because she has such a big heart.
I also loved reading about Raniero who grew up along Lucius and has so many mysteries and back stories about his past life as an assassin and this one experience that changed his life forever, turning him into a pacifist/surfer vampire who falls for Mindy.  There’s a lot of good drama between Mindy, Raniero, and Jessica’s relative, Ylenia. There’s double crossing, treason, trials that resolve in destruction, vampire politics, royal speeches, and a lot of learning on Jessica’s part. She eventually learns her way around the castle and works on her new language skills too. And most of the story revolves around trying to clear Lucius’ name because everyone thinks he killed one of the vampire elders. And there’s a limited time to figure out who actually did kill the elder because Lucius is in prison with no blood, and a vampire can only last so long without blood.
Jessica does a lot of growing up in this book. However, I feel like a lot of it was unnecessary.  I feel like it took way too long for her to grow up in the first book. And I was looking forward to her being stronger from the beginning. Instead, I feel like the girl went backwards and had to grow up all over again. I get that having your new husband locked up is hard. And she’s in a new country where she knows little to nothing of the culture, language, or customs. But, really, this was where I was expecting more. There was this one epiphany moment when Jessica finally realizes that she does want to be a queen, and not just the wife of a king. She generally comes to think she can do good for a lot of vampires. And it’s supposed to be this turning point in the book. I just kind of feel like this turning point already happened in the first book…and I wanted and thought we were past this already.
Also, I feel like something more needed to be said about her not being in college. She was planning for college for practically her whole life before Lucius, and has some amazing mathematical talents. Yet, this sort of was left behind with her normal American life, and I feel like Jessica is not the kind of girl to just let something like that go. She should have a tutor, or even be attending classes in her new country. And her parents were MIA throughout the whole thing. And I get why this was necessary, but I kind of feel like Jessica would have been thinking about them more. And I know they would not have let the college thing just slip away.
But all in all, the story was lot more interesting –more vampire politics and less typical high school drama. I loved the new characters. I loved the romance. And I give this one an 8/10.

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