Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Publication date: February 1, 2009
ISBN 10/13: 0152063846 / 9780152063849
Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Audiobook! You must!
Keywords: Parody, Vampires, Romance, Hilarious, Katherine Kellgren
Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.
How I found out about this book: Jane had a pile of Audible credits and needed suggestions on what to get with them. So I spent about three hours paging line by line through Audible Kids looking for a gem... Lo and behold, I spotted a Katherine Kellgren* audiobook that I hadn't heard yet. When she was done listening to it, Jane told me I'd probably give it a 5. She was right. (She's always right. Smarty pants.)
*If you're new to me, let me just tell you now that I'm obsessed with her to the point that I have gotten my husband to agree to name our as-yet-nonexistent girl-child after her.
Quickie: I loved this book. It's a great antidote for those Twilight-haters (yeah, you lot)--a clever, funny, snarky take on vampire romance. Few books make it to my re-read shelf. I've already read it twice in two weeks; it's that good.
For more details, click on "Read More"
My review: So the fair princess does not fall, swooning, into the arms of the rich and handsome vampire prince who shows up on her 18th birthday, waving their betrothal contract which was signed just after their births. She does not sacrifice her happiness and independence to avert a vampire civil war which surely will result if their contract is not carried out, and soon. On the contrary, she stabs a princely extremity and tells him that vampires don't exist; she then retreats to her bedroom to work on her calculus homework. So begins our tale.
Don't worry, there is so much more to this book than the glimpse I just gave you. I loved smart, snappy Jessica--she's a protagonist you can care about despite her pragmatic refusal to believe some very obvious evidence that Lucius is a vampire as he claims. And Lucius (guh, I've already typed Luscious three times and had to edit out the "s" and "o") for all his pomposity is quite a lovable guy. I think I laughed the loudest during his letters to his Uncle Vasile back home in Romania (Lucius is posing as an exchange student), where he waxes comedic on American teen culture: jeans, MTV, and varsity basketball, with varying degrees of drollness. "P.S. Basketball practice will soon begin. Perhaps you would like to fly over and attend a game? Perhaps not." Especially if you're listening to the Kellgren reading, you're likely to engage in a literal ROFL.
An underlying thread of seriousness (seriousness? in a teen vampire comedy? If it's good enough for Joss Whedon, it's good enough for Beth Fantaskey) balances out the humor. Issues of bullying, xenophobia, and violence keep this parody out of Nightlight territory. Jessica is careful to differentiate infatuation, lust, and love--though sometimes she can't tell any of them apart from exasperation and disgust. Her relationships to Lucius, to her ditzy best friend, to her loving/odd/adoptive parents, and to the rest of the secondary characters add the bit of realism that brings this flight of fantasy back down to earth. In my view--fantastic. I can't wait to read it again!
Who should read this book: Pretty clean. Part of the book (about two-thirds of the way in) can get a little creepy, so maybe not quite for the little ones. 14-and-ups should be fine. Did I mention it's funny? It's very funny. And even funnier out loud. (To quote my friend Kate: *giggle* *giggle*!)
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is Beth Fantaskey's first novel.
Look out for her next book, Jekel Loves Hyde, due out May 3, 2010.
Find the author at http://www.bethfantaskey.com, on Twitter @bethfantaskey
Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/rnsljgtdotds
Find this book on goodreads.com, listen to a snippet at audible.com, or buy it now! (And here I make a last-ditch attempt to convince you to get the audiobook. I own the hardcover too, and the paperback is now available, but the read-aloud version is my absolute favorite. All right, off with you then.)
If you have finished reading the book, poke around on the author's website -- there's something special there for you! (Scroll down... there's an online story you'll want to read!)
What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)