Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hardcover: 354 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: February 1, 2009
Series: Jessica #1
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
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 GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE is a nice young adult take on vampires. It’s actually quite refreshing because the novel is not overly sexual as some vampires novels tend to be. It’s therefore suitable for younger teenagers, as well as the young adults, and the not so young adults among us. It’s a novel about a young woman’s coming of age in a normal American setting and then her life is completely transformed when she learns that she’s from a long line of vampire royalty, from Romania. An actual vampire princess!
Beth Fantaskey’s writing is very easy to read and the flow of her story is very well paced. The only thing I didn’t like about the writing is, even though the story is written in the first person, the narrator Jessica still places her thoughts in italics. Personally, I don’t think that’s necessary since every word narrated is from her point of view anyways.
The Jessica character is very believable since she represent many high school girl with her incertitude concerning romantic relationships and feelings. Her fondness for math and science makes her a good role model and I really enjoyed how Jessica rationalized the existence of vampires with mathematical theorems. Her reaction, when she learns she’s a vampire-to-be, is realistic and true to her character. Despite her denial, she’s a very curious person and she tries to learn as much as she can before coming to any conclusion about vampires, like any true scientist would do. Lucius, Jessica’s fiancé from early childhood, is a little less believable. I think the author tried just a little too hard to forge him into a perfect European boy and personally, I find the result wasn’t satisfactory. He does have some qualities that shines through however. For example, he demonstrated throughout the book how he can be very good for Jessica’s self-esteem and overall, makes her feel worthy and proud of her vampire lineage. I think I might be a little to harsh when it comes to judging his character, but it’s probably because I enjoyed reading about Jessica so much more.
Despite its normal length, there’s quite a lot that happens in this book. A marriage proposal, a horse jumping competition, formals, and an assassination attempt are among the many things that unfold.You won’t get bored with this story, that’s for sure. Obviously the first book from a series, the author left the story unfinished. I wish I could have learnt more about the series’ vampire lore and more about the vampire characters living in Romania. I’m just glad I can read the second book right away since it’s already out, and everyone can read a online novella which is set between book one and book two and which contains an obvious spoiler. Even if it won’t make my top books of the year, I really did enjoy Jessica’s story. This high school drama might not be for everyone, but if you do enjoy a light YA vampire novel, give Jessica a try!