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11 Jan 2013

Book review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey

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 new found 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.

I didn't go into this book with huge expectations despite all the good reviews for it.  A lot of readers really enjoyed this book because it was dark but I still couldn't see past the girl-next-door gets hot vampire admirer. 

There were good points to this book.  I liked Jessica at the beginning.  She was her own person and you got what you saw.  She had a crush on a nice guy, had ambitions with her horses and was a totally logical and down-to-earth girl with a 'see it to believe it' motto.  Thinking about the possibility of vampires existing would have never crossed her mind and she would probably have laughed at you if you wondered about it yourself.  When she sees Lucius for the first time he's a freak, a weird fancy European boy who is more annoying than alluring. 

Lucius is your typical modern vampire.  Aristocratic, expensive clothes, and a little bit on the brooding side but his snobbish side is very much mocked by Beth Fantaskey in his letters to his family, usually highlighting exactly how hopeless he is at wooing Jessica and showing arrogant disgust at human life.

So while the humour at the start of the book was brilliant and actually gave me the giggles now and again, the rest of the story grew more intense and dramatic where the characters I was actually starting to like grew annoying and unattractive. Jessica always had her own mind but she didn't need pretty dresses and a make over to feel confident. She could have just done that easily with her bravery to speak up which I think should have been the focus of her development.  It can be a pet peeve of mine when female characters can only find their confidence through slapping a pretty dress and make-up on.  Jessica was a girl with a casual taste in clothes and didn't find the need to dress up.  I think I would like to see a new message in YA for girls.  That you shouldn't have to change and dress up like another person to gain confidence.  You need confidence in what you already look like and wear to start feeling better about yourself.  

Lucius, while hilarious to begin with, actually went into super Emo mode and set about screwing up and messing around with the hopes that he'd either die or grow cold and bitter. After a while I was screaming at Jessica to just give up on him and head back to nice guy Jake - why do all these nice guys get screwed over? - but she was always incredibly naive about the situation she was getting in. By the end I was really repulsed by Lucius and overall disappointed with the story.  He just made a downward spiral for himself and became just like every other supernatural boy in YA.  Broody, sulky, and threatens the girl.  He was becoming a danger and a problem and I would have liked to have something different to the 'girl attempting to save the supernatural boy and make him feel less like a monster' plot line.  Jessica was a character who I would have loved to have seen blossom independently without the need of Lucius. 

Overall it did end up turning into another ugly duckling story with the aid of yet another moody supernatural boy.  Another guy who I really just wanted to end up slapping and yell 'get over it' to.  Sorry but I don't do whiners who make things worse for themselves.  And I probably won't pick up the sequel either.


  1. I doubt I would have read the book anyway, but the write up you give makes me think of TWILIGHT-type vampires... and need I go there? :) If I'm going to read a vampire story (and you know that's not something I would do without the book having a strong recommendation behind it), I prefer the vamps to be more of the classic nasty types. :)

  2. P.S.: Yes, I intend to read 'SALEM'S LOT this year. :)

  3. It was really disappointing because a friend really recommended it and she pretty much has an awesome taste in books. She's completely against Twilight and arsehole LIs so when she reviewed this book she made it sound like it was how Twilight SHOULD have been written. But I found it the same as other paranormal romances. The guy was a jerk. The girl was all about Lucius once she fell for him. Total disappointment. :(

    Oh 'Salem's Lot is my favourite King novel from what I've read of his work so far. I really enjoyed it. :)