Title: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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 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.
I didn’t really want to like this book. When I first heard about it, Twilight-mania was probably at its highest pitch. I was sick of hearing about Edward and Bella and Stephanie Meyer and dazzling vampires, but mostly vampires. I had barely read any books about them and yet I was so annoyed with them just because people wouldn’t shut up about them. I avoided all vampire books, not wanting to be mistaken for a Twi-hard. When I decided to give another vampire book, Evernight, a chance, though, my opinion changed. I was willing to give vampire books a chance, as long as they weren’t compared to Twilight, of course. Still, I was slow to give this book a chance because I was still iffy at the idea of reading vampire books. But I did give it a chance, and man am I glad that I did, because this is definitely a favorite of mine now.
Jessica is a very interesting protagonist. She’s not only interesting to read about, but she also seems real. She’s not a stereotypical cheerleader, but she’s also not an apparent friendless loser who still manages to snag the attention of a total hottie. Jessica is a curvy girl who hates her figure and yet still deals with it instead of whining about it all the time. She does have a best friend, and a crush, and she has two normal parents who love her. I love the fact that she knows she’s adopted – Fantaskey doesn’t try to surprise her protagonist and the reader by throwing the adoption as a curveball. In real life, it’s going to be very, very rare that someone doesn’t know they’re adopted – it’s usually only in books, movies, and TV that parents withhold this information, because it makes for a more interesting story, although not very realistic. In this case, though, Jessica already knew, so when a guy shows up claiming that she’s a vampire princess, the only thing that shocks her is the vampire princess part, not the adopted part.
Many people complain about something called the ‘love pow’ – basically, in most stereotypical YA romances, a girl and boy fall instantly into ‘love’ in the span of about a day (really, they fall instantly into lust and merely mistake their hormones for deeper feelings). In this case, though, there’s definitely no love between the two from the beginning – Lucius feels that it’s his duty to marry Jessica, and Jessica hates him because he sort of is a jerk. Their relationship slowly grows into a friendship, and then it blossoms into a romance. It grows over time, rather than in a few hours.
The vampire part of the story was also interesting. I liked the guide that Lucius gave Jessica – it was basically like a book about puberty for vampires, complete with a chapter about their fangs. The idea of royal vampires is also intriguing – it’s like old European societies, only with vampires.
Despite the fact that this book is about vampires, it’s quite bubbly and fun. Sure, there are dark parts, especially towards the end, but mostly it’s a very fun book to read. It was also interesting to get a look at Lucius’s thoughts, via his letters back home.
Overall, this has definitely helped change my opinions about vampire books. It’s a great book and I would love to reread it whenever I need my fix of good vampire romances.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars