Monday, December 19, 2011

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

So, I’ve had this book for a while. I got it for free in my Young Adult Resources class in library school. I actually had a class where all of the reading was YA lit…So cool, right? The professors wanted everyone to participate in a charity (food/clothing drive), and if every student brought something in for the charity, each and every student would get a free book. I picked this book
And I’m kind of having trouble putting to words my exact thoughts on this one. It took me a long time to read because I kind of kept getting angry at how absurd it was. A) the author’s name is Fantaskey…, B) None of the characters except Lucius and eventually Jessica seemed the slightest bit real to me, and C) it was pretty much Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries, but with vampires.
Well, here’s the story: Jessica one day finds Lucius standing outside her house. The tall, flirtatious, and pompous individual then not only begins to “court” the kind, simple, and horse-loving farm gal, Jessica, but then proceeds to tell her and her family that he is there to finalize the pact made by his and Jessica’s families when they were babies. Jessica is really a vampire princess. After her parents were murdered she was adopted by her current parents and taken to America in safety. The most unbelievable part of the book then happens. Jessica’s adoptive parents agree with Lucius, invite him to stay with them, and continue to act as though the daughter they have been raising the past 17 years is acting like a child in not seeing things from Lucius’ point of view. I found this absurd. I get that her parents are anthropologists, study cultures, and stick out like a sore thumb in their rural community because they are vegans. There are a lot of vegan jokes (especially made in comparison to blood drinking vampires, and those were cute at first, but then just kind of tiresome after a while). But, really? Despite their eccentricities and need to look at different cultures, I though they were just plain awful here.
And the rest of the book explains how loving the parents are, always taking in stray kittens, and caring about everyone, but I never believed it because of the way this first interaction was handled. I was just appalled.  I almost stopped reading. But, I kept going to find out that Jessica would eventually fall for Lucius, and put aside the other normal boy she thought she liked. And then Lucius goes out with the very skinny, popular girl, making Jessica jealous. And all this was just a little too cliché for me.
However, it does pick up. I’m glad I kept reading because then the vampire politics kick in, and that was interesting to read about. I liked reading about the real plot behind the vampire pact. Jessica travels to Lucius’s homeland. There’s wars to stop, people to convince, lives to sacrifice, and all that good stuff. And of course, despite how cheesy things are, I found myself hoping for Jessica and Lucius to work things out.

And I also liked the book Lucius gave Jessica about coming into vampirehood. I loved reading about how her fangs worked and was embarrassed along with her when she read about becoming a woman as a vampire. I thought this was a great idea to explain some of the vampire rules in a way that wasn't too descriptive. I really couldn't see Lucius explaining some of this stuff for her, so the book worked as a good source of information for her and for the reader. I also enjoyed reading about her history and her birth mother. Though, I feel like a lot of adoption issues and emotions weren't covered at all.
There’s school dances, shopping sprees, makeovers, and all characteristics of a teen movie. And while again this was just a little too cliché for me, I did kind of enjoy it.  This book was a bit of what I would call a fluffy novel, nothing really new or shocking, or unique, but fun in it’s predictability. I give it a 7/10. And I’m already reading the sequel because I got an ARC of it in New Orleans, and this one is about Jessica learning to rule, and I want to see how this goes. I’ll let you know soon.

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