Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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

What do you do when a book starts off  light-hearted and fun, yet ends dark and dramatic?  What if you weren't expecting it to happen?  In some ways, that is how I felt about Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "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 fiancé. 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."

Review:  I'm not sure what I expected exactly, but the turn in the novel from light and flirty to dark and dramatic threw me.  Although the vampire theme warranted some danger, I didn't expect the vampire/fiance to go from determined suitor to the evil, unconcerned vampire he eventually became.  If this were a mood swing, then it was some mood swing, brought on by what exactly?  Was Jessica's determination not to become a vampire just a bit much?  I'm not giving anything away here in saying this, as a teen romance usually always has a conflict that leads you to want the two characters together even more.  In this case, I wasn't sure why the character's emotions changed so suddenly, when they had so thoroughly convinced me they originally felt just the opposite?

While my biggest concern with the novel was the dramatic shift from light to dark, I will say that this might be my own issue as an adult reader.  As a high school teacher always on the look out for books to recommend to my students, I know that teen readers would not be as critical of the drama in the book and probably enjoy the tension that was spelled out in the second half of the novel.  For me, it was disconcerting.  I liked the fun tone of Jessica finding out she was promised to a vampire prince and wish that the story would have continued in that vein (yes...pun), and allowed a more "campy" play on the vampire theme.  The light part of the book I enjoyed and found fun to read; the darker side threw me a little and made me wish for a different conclusion.  I'm going to share this one with my students, however, since they are still on the look out for more teen vampire stories!


  1. I have very antagonistic feelings toward this book, not just because it has absolutely zero sense of continuity. The vampire is a stalker and tries to control Jessica's life from the get-go, to the point where he actually dresses her. And don't even get me started on body image in this book. I'm sure the idea that a teenage girl should adjust her appearance to suit that of a boy is a totally positive message. /sarcasm

  2. I saw this book at a store awhile back and wanted to buy it just for the title! Ha, ha! I had a good chuckle over it...

    Anyway-just a quick note saying I enjoy reading your blog still and sometimes go and look up books you review to put on my own to read list! Hope you are doing well-one of these days I will make it back out to Utah to visit people, including you!

  3. Heidenkind--I hear ya, I hear ya. Why do I not remember the bit where he dressed her? In some strange way, I think this plays into that "control" theme that some women like?

    Jess!!!--Yes, you need to come visit. :) I'm glad you stop in I miss you! I think that you should write this as JESSICA'S (meaning you)Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. That would be too awesome.

  4. I totally agree with you. It threw me when I first read it, and I didn't understand why he got to dark and dreary all of the sudden. I did like the book, but I had to look past the fact that it takes an emotional spin.

  5. Whoa...really? Huh...didn't think so either from the synopsis. Interesting. Agree with you on the possible wisdom with age could be the difference in a complete enjoyment of this one. Thanks for sharing...and happy reading!