Monday, January 30, 2012

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

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
by Beth Fantaskey
(Jessica #1)

Young Adult-Paranormal-Vampires
Harcourt--February 2009
E-book, 384 pages 

Rating: 4 Stars--Really Liked It


The undead can really screw up your senior year ...

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.


I wasn't completely sure what to expect when I began Jessica's Guide.  I had found myself getting a little tired of the young adult vampire novel.  Thankfully, this book took all the cliches associated with the "Twilight genre" and used them in a creative way.  What appears to be a light, fluffy paranormal slowly reveals its darker side which is balanced with wonderful black comedy.

Jessica has a pretty tough situation on her hands.  She discovers that she is a vampire and, not just any vampire, but the only heir in her royal vampire family.  Then she realizes that she has been promised in marriage to a prince from a rival family, Lucius, in order to avoid bloody war.  Her fiance has been given the task to go to America and return to Romania with her for the wedding.  Unfortunately, Jessica does not intend to go along with the plan quietly.  She resists Lucius's advances from the beginning and even has a difficult time believing the truth about her heritage.

I liked Jessica as a heroine.  She was stubborn, loyal, and definitely not afraid to speak her mind.  Her self-consciousness made her sympathetic and I loved how she gained confidence throughout the story.  Jessica was not a weeping flower of a heroine and showed her bravery in many scenes especially towards the end.  She was born a vampire princess and it was easy to see that in her poise and leadership in the book.

Lucius is a delicious bad boy type of hero.  He was raised by his uncles to be a deadly vampire prince and just oozes danger from the moment you meet him.  But, he has obviously resisted many of the efforts to make him cold-hearted because of his romantic courtship of Jessica.  Lucius knows what is expected of him, but he is not as comfortable with his supposed destiny as his uncles would like him to be.  Some of the best Lucius moments are his letters to his uncle in Europe where he provides snarky commentary of American teenage life.  Most are absolutely hilarious and show off his dry sense of humor. 

The secondary characters are fairly detailed and some are a surprising twist on old cliches.  Jessica's best friend Mindy is loyal and the perfect shoulder to cry on until an unfortunate argument tests their longtime friendship.  Jake, Jessica's high school crush, is never an equal rival for Lucius, but he does provide a few much-needed moments of jealousy.  Though I liked Jake, I was glad that Fantaskey did not try to make this a love triangle since I've gotten a little tired of them in YA.  Jessica's parents are aware of her heritage and try their hardest to help her get acclimated to the idea of being a vampire princess. 

As mentioned earlier, this book begins with a light, almost satirical tone with Lucius and Jessica's bantering paired with Lucius amusing observations on high school life.  Then, the mood quickly becomes bleak when Lucius's uncles join in the plot.  Jessica begins to realize how dark the world of vampires can be and how Lucius's upbringing has truly effected him.  The vampire mythology is original and easy to understand.  I enjoyed the almost-medieval hierarchy that made up vampire society.  It gave it a gothic romantic feel that works well with the second, darker half of the book.  All in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more about Jessica and Lucius's relationship. 


"No, Lucius is harmless," I fibbed. If you don't count the fact that he thinks he's a warrior prince representing a semi-cannibalistic race of undead bat people.


1. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
1.5. The Wedding of Antanasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu
2. Jessica Rules the Dark Side


1 comment:

  1. I love the sound of this. I will definitely have to read it! Great review! :)

    - Nicola @ A Pocket Full of Books


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