Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side 
by Beth Fantaskey
Pages: 351
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: February 1, 2009
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Jessica Packwood wants a normal senior year of high school.  She wants to date her cute neighbor, Jake, and have fun with her best friend, Mindy.  She has no clue what is in store for her when she heads out for her first day of school.  She notices that a tall, dark, mysterious, yet handsome guy is staring at her while she is waiting for the bus.  Shockingly, he never gets on the bus and ends up at her school.  He's the new foreign exchange student, Lucius, and he has come to Lancaster, Pennsylvania all the way from Romania.  He ends up telling Jessica that she is actually a vampire princess as her birth parents come from a very important royal vampire family and were unfortunately killed.  Jessica is in a state of disbelief.  Although she is aware that she is adopted, she doesn't believe in vampires or anything irrational and has hard time accepting Lucius' claims.  And on top of that news, he says that as children they were betrothed with hopes that the two opposing families would join together; therefore, avoiding a war.  Lucius tries and court Jessica using all of his European flair and etiquette; however, she is extremely resistant and wants a more normal life.  Jessica starts to wonder if she can turn her back on her Romanian family and betrothal; in fact, she doesn't even believe in vampires!  And much to her annoyance, the head cheerleader starts showing an interest in Lucius and she worries that maybe she is starting to feel something for Lucius, but she questions how on earth can she actually be a vampire princess?  Beth Fantaskey's debut novel Jessica Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is definitely not one to be missed, especially for fans of the vampire genre.  

Lucius.  Wow, what a character.  I really enjoyed him and not just, because he's the extremely good looking , irresistible vampire, but because he's hilarious.  I don't think I have laughed out loud as much while reading a book as I did when I read the letters he wrote to his uncle concerning his adventures in Pennsylvania.  I don't know if it's because I live in Pennsylvania and went to college in rural Pennsylvania, but I was dying!   His letters were so witty and hysterical. They were my favorite part of the book!  His observation on American teenage life was spot on and comical.  I was reading this book at the pool while on vacation and I'm pretty sure the people around me thought I was nuts due to the fact that I kept laughing out loud to myself.  I also LOVED that Fantaskey made Jessica real.  She didn't immediately decide she was "in love" with Lucius and quickly form a bond. It was something that grew.  She also didn't believe in vampires initially and I thought that was realistic being that Jessica is someone that is extremely logical and a fan of math and science.  Lastly, I adored the fact that she was a curvy girl and embraced her weight.  I am so sick of size two girls in literature; plus, Lucius told her that he liked her curves and wanted her to not be "invisible" like most of the American girls today.   What a great message!  

Fantaskey's writing style was extremely entertaining.  It was a pleasure to read this book and I couldn't put it down.  I felt the pace was perfect and it was a fun take on vampires.  She somehow got me to swoon over Lucius and his old world ways of courting one minute and then laugh out loud with something the next minute.  I didn't think I would enjoy this since I am kind of getting sick of vampires, but I was definitely wrong.  Fantaskey brought something new to the genre and I was pleasantly surprised.  Without a doubt, I am now a fan of Fantaskey and will be reading anything that she writes in the future.  

Ultimately by the middle of the novel, Jessica realizes that she may need to fight for love and she realizes that if it were easy, it wouldn't mean anything.  I think that's true about a lot of things in life and I could really appreciate Jessica's determination.  With that said, I am glad I picked up this novel despite the cheesy title and initial hesitation. It actually turned out to be one of the best books I've read this year.  A big thank you to Jenn at Book Crazy for recommending it to me.  Thankfully, there will be a sequel coming out in 2011 entitled Jessica's Guide to Ruling on the Dark Side.  I can't wait to find out what happens!  

*Once you have read Jessica's Guide, be sure to check out the story of what happens after the novel ends. It's posted on Beth Fantaskey's website.


  1. I cant tell you how happy it makes me that you picked this up because I recommended it, and that you loved it! :) *GIRLY SQUEAL*

    As you know I loved it too, wonderful review! :D

  2. The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it. I love the sound of the humour and also the sort of playing with the genre. It just sounds so entertaining. Great review.

  3. Ooh, great review, Christina! This book sounds fab and I have to say that I love a book with some humour :D


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