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
Hardback, First Edition
Pages: 354 (including acknowledgments)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: B


For her first seventeen years, Jessica Packwood has been leading a seemingly ordinary life in the rural town of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Now a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, her life suddenly takes an unexpected—and downright unbelievable in her eyes—turn when the new Romanian foreign exchange student Lucius Vladescu arrives. He knows things about Jess, things only a sparse few know, such as her real name, Anastasia. He also claims to be a vampire. And that she, too, is a vampire princess. And, due to some pact made years ago to keep peace between their families, they are betrothed. And all the girl wanted was a social life.

Join Jessica as she takes on the everyday tasks of getting her first kiss, taking down a cheerleader who seems a little too attached to Lucius to her liking, transforming from your mundane American into a beautiful Romanian vampire princess, and, oh yeah, preventing a vampire war that's been brewing for years from happening.


My initial reaction to the first fifty or so pages was that the book was okay. I was immediately drawn to Beth Fantaskey's writing and the voice Jessica had. But the plot seemed rushed and at times I wondered why Jessica jumped to conclusions about Lucius when the reader barley knew anything about him. The dialogues also seemed a bit clichéd, especially when Lucius talked. Basically, I thought of it as a mutation of The Princess Diaries and Twilight, though, of course, with its own originality.

But then, at some point—I was way too absorbed to know when—my feelings changed. I could not put the book down. Sure, this might not have been the best book I had read, but I got hooked in with the plot twists and characters. Plus, the dialogues became funnier:

"Where do you come from?" Frank challenged, puffing his chest, a little bolder now that he could breathe. "Some of us are starting to wonder."
"I come from civilization," Lucius retorted. "You wouldn't be familiar with the territory…" (page 82 HB)

and the pacing became better as the book progressed. I also loved the letters Lucius sent to his uncle throughout the book, which made me better understand him and to see his transformations throughout the story. With entries such as, "The lentil is perhaps the world's most versatile, indestructible food," (page 47, HB) I was often laughing out loud as he observed the American lifestyle, especially his criticism on the Packwood family's all-vegan diet.

At times I wanted to slap the characters—Lucius for his obnoxiousness and decisions, Jessica for being so close-minded (basically both were really stubborn). That was another thing. It took so long for Jessica to finally admit it to herself that Lucius was a vampire, though she had plenty of evidence! But on the other hand, I loved the fact that I couldn't predict the ending. By the middle of the book, I was having serious doubts that the two would actually end up together because of their stubborn personalities. So I definitely give Beth Fantaskey kudos for that.

Overall, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is a fun book that keeps the reader guessing and laughing. You'll feel the characters' frustration, occasionally want to beat them with a hammer, and get caught up in the romance. I definitely recommend this book. (And on a side note, I love the cover. It actually does resemble the book.)


Jen Hubert said...

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your first review! And well done, I might add--I always appreciate a blogger who goes above and beyond the usual "I really, really liked it." I look forward to reading more and hope you will consider linking to my site, Reading Rants: Out of the Ordinary Booklists for Teens Thanks, and happy reading!

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