Friday, April 10, 2015

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side review

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
by Beth Fantaskey
Harcourt
February 2009

First line: "The first time I saw him, a heavy, gray fog clung to the cornfields, tails of mists slithering between the dying stalks."

Seventeen year old high school student Jessica is shocked to learn that she's actually adopted, and is descended from vampires.  The sardonic, haughty and hilarious vampire, Lucius Vladescu really makes this book stand-out.  Because of their noble bloodlines and a tremendous financial inheritance, Lucius and Jessica have been promised in marriage (unbeknownst to Jessica) since birth.  Since Jessica's been raised as an all-American girl, naturally she finds the idea of an arranged marriage very distasteful.  To try and change her mind, Lucius registers as an exchange student at her school and takes up residence in her parent's barn.  As the story unfolds we begin to see another side of Lucius.  Frequently beaten by his harsh uncle during his Dickensian childhood, he begins to relax a bit and enjoy what he sees as a decadent suburban lifestyle.  I found the idea that Jessica's adopted parents would keep her entire adoption a secret for all these years very difficult to credit, and was a little surprised to see her parents continually trying to push the two teens together.

In Fantaskey's world, female vampires only develop their full powers after being bitten by a male.  Male vampires develop their powers (and limitations) naturally as they age.  Something about this inequality of the sexes bothered me.  Not a very feminist take, I guess.  Another thing which worried me was the callous disregard Lucius has for Jessica's name.  He constantly calls her "Anastasia," the name her birth parents would have chosen for her, which seemed a bit pompous, overbearing and creepy to me.  Then again, that sort of behavior does seem par for the course for most male vampires. 

Jessica finally decides to embrace her destiny and goes to Romania where she meets a few of the key players of the vampire world before finally allowing Lucius to bite her.  You can practically hear the music swell, fade to black, and "they lived happily ever after."  It was anticlimactic, to say the least.  Still, this was a light, fun read, and when he isn't being infuriating, the Lucius character adds a lot of humor to the story.


I borrowed this book from the library.

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