Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dracula meets Princess Diaries

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
You know the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Well don't judge this book by its cover or its ridiculous title because you won't be sorry if you pick this gem up (which you might not do with a silly title like Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side). While Beth Fantaskey might not have chosen the best title for a great story like this, she sure knows how to write!

Jessica is a normal, everyday senior at Woodrow Wilson High School. She thinks about colleges, boys, friends, and parents, until Lucius Vladescu shows up at her high school. Lucius is an exchange student from Romania who seems intent on gaining Jessica for his own, but there is more to the story. It turns out Lucius is a vampire prince, as is Jessica (princess), and they were betrothed to one another before they were born in order to bring peace to two warring clans of vampires. Jessica's adoptive parents were entrusted with her safety when the villagers attacked her clan and killed her birth parents. Now Jessica is supposed to return to Romania as Lucius's queen. The only problem? She thinks they are all nuts! Vampires?! There is no such thing as vampires!

Lucius refuses to give up (and knows his uncle will not be happy if he returns without Jessica) so he decides to stay in town and win her over. Of course, his over-privileged, vampire life doesn't compare to Jessica's life on her vegetarian parents' farm. He feels assaulted by their obsession with lentils, is horrified (and disposes of) their collection of international folk art (in particular the dolls... he really hates the dolls), and is forced to play basketball, although he insists on doing so in leather loafers. Lucius is so annoyed by having to endure life in Jessica's home and town he can barely stick it out. When she starts dating a local boy, Lucius can barely contain his irritation, but when other kids in school start to suspect something is up with Lucius, and by default, Jessica, the situation quickly escalates to a dangerous one. Lucius's dangerous, sinister uncles come into town to force the engagement along and the townsfolk are coming dangerously close to the truth. Jessica just wants to be a normal girl, but it looks like the lives of her people she can barely accept exist are hung in the balance of her decision.

This book is so easily underestimated by that ridiculous title and cover that I am concerned it won't get the attention it deserves. The story was hilarious (I mean laugh out loud, adore Lucius and his cantankerousness completely), the writing was really good, and the characters were great. This is one of those books that really takes you by surprise! Lucius's character is the best part of the book. His correspondence with his uncles back in Romania will literally keep you in hysterics. I can't describe him accurately enough to do him justice- you just have to read the book and see how funny he truly is (watch out for the two page long tirade about the lentils!)!

The writing is moderate and the situations are not too mature for your average middle to high school student. Like I said, the cover and title are going to sadly scare away a lot of kids and adults who would otherwise love this book, so be sure to read it and spread the word (or bully them into reading it if you must- whatever works!). It is a story you will love and wish there was more of (please Ms. Fantaskey- write a sequel!!). The first part of the story is very funny, very humorous, but the second part of the story gets very serious as the danger of the situation unfolds. This is a great book, in fact one of the best I have read in a long time. So go ahead- read it, and I dare you to try and NOT love Lucuis!

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