Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Publisher:  Harcourt Children's Books
Date:  February 1, 2009
ISBN: 978-0547259406  
Pages:  368

I stumbled upon this book when I was just browsing and I'm so glad I did!

Quick Summary:  Jessica was adopted, she's always known that.  But to find out she's really a vampire princess?!  Jessica won't even entertain the thought that there are real vampires, much less royalty.  When her betrothed shows up, it gets interesting.

Jessica is practical, she lives on a farm, is in 4H for horses and her parents are vegan.  Oh yeah, she's a mathlete.  When a gorgeous (but creepy) guy shows up at her bus stop, then her school, then her house...she's freaked out.  The foreign exchange student, Lucius, claims to be a vampire prince and he's come to claim his betrothed - Antanasia Dragomir.  Or as she's known now...Jessica Packwood. 

Lucius seems snobby and duty-driven and I was unsure about liking him at all, but Ms. Fantaskey solves that issue by having Lucius write letters to his uncle.  Those letters show hints of the boy under the self-assured exterior.  Lucius learns to embrace American customs and being a teenager instead of royalty.

The minor characters are very well-developed.  The love interests of both Jessica and Lucius seem very real and have their own voices, as do some of the characters that only show up once or twice.  Ms. Fantaskey has spent a lot of time at developing characters.

This isn't just a cute novel about a girl and a vampire.  It's about identity and self-discovery.  You see, Jessica doesn't just fall head-over-heels for Lucius, in fact, she doesn't like him at all - even though everyone else does.  You watch Jessica and Lucius both go through a series of small changes over a long period of time.

And the title of the book?  Well, Lucius gives Jessica a book to assist her in maturing and becoming a vampire - it's called Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health and Emotions.  It was awesome! 


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