Title: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (Book 1)
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Houton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: February 1, 2009
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.
As if school work isn’t enough, Jessica’s life takes a very weird turn when she sees Lucius for the first time. And then, when she finds out the truth of the whole thing, and from her parents, no less, it totally freaks her out. I mean, can you blame her? Finding out that your own parents had hidden the fact that you were a VAMPIRE for almost eighteen years? And then to find out only when a spoiled, Old World freaking PRINCE comes to claim you as his BRIDE!? Unbelievable. I would have done much more than simply jam a pitchfork into Lucius’s foot. (Possibly my favorite scene.) Maybe I’d have come around, eventually. Maybe. The ultimate betrayal of her parents in all the weirdness would definitely make me lose trust in them, but Jess doesn’t have that problem – which is all well and good until the pact becomes practically meaningless.
The central idea to the story was the pact. This agreement made when Jessica and Lucius were practically newborns, plus the conflicting cultures of Romania and free-loving America, was a terrible combination. Unless, of course, you’re Lucius’s uncle, but still. I really enjoyed how Jessica attempted to be free, and that if she ever decided to like, love, or marry Lucius, it would be because she wanted to, not because of a stupid pact made over a decade ago. The risks in doing that were enormous – including a major world war – and I’m glad things were resolved at the end. There are a lot of “extra” chapters, too, for those who have read the book (Major spoilers), on Beth Fantaskey’s website. I really loved those chapters!!
The last praise I have for this book is that the turmoil Jessica goes through – from being adopted, realizing what she truly is, to facing the fact of Lucius (with everything that follows him), as well as high school – is dealt with in a manner typical of a girl Jessica’s age. There’s a lot of anger, some depression, but predominately fear. The overwhelming feelings that bled through all the pages really show the fear of uncertainty, and therefore of doing the wrong thing, was completely natural to feel, but what was really amazing was that I could really feel it through Jessica’s thoughts and actions.
All in all, a great book. Even though it’s my rereading of it, I still can’t get enough of it, and I can’t wait for the sequel, Jessica Rules the Dark Side.