Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
January 10, 2012; Harcourt Children's Books


Summary

It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I picked up Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side several years ago in my phase in which I read anything and everything to do with vampires (I guess I'm still in that phase). Given the stupid title, I wasn't expecting much. Boy, was I surprised. It was a great book with a lot of humor, fabulous characters, and a strong, unique plot. I was thrilled but a little wary of reading the long-awaited sequel. What if it disappointed, as so many second books do? Not to worry. Jessica Rules the Dark Side is fantastic.

The story is different from many YA novels in that Jessica has graduated high school, is now married, and living in Romania with Lucius. Like many "second books," there is a plot twist that takes Lucius away from Jessica. In this case, he is accused of committing murder and is thrown into the dungeon to await trial. It's up to Jessica to uncover the real murderer. Luckily, she's not alone. Her plucky friend Mindy arrives from Pennsylvania to help, as does Lucius's close friend Raniero. Thankfully, this book avoids the ubiquitous "second book" love triangle plot angle.

I wasn't thrilled with Jessica at first. She's not the strong, stubborn girl I remembered. Instead, she is timid and shy, looking to Lucius for everything. This is frustrating to read, but in context it makes sense. She just moved to Romania, doesn't speak the language, didn't grow up training to be a queen, and is living with people who have hated her ancestors for thousands of years. I would be a little hesitant too. Thankfully, she grows throughout the novel, becoming not necessarily the Jessica we remember, but a mature, logical, competent woman. A true queen.

The book alternates between points of view of Jessica, Lucius, Raniero, and Mindy. Their voices are so different that this never becomes confusing. Similar to the first book, we get the male point of view through letters and e-mail. Lucius's letters were my favorite part of the first book, and they are one of my favorite parts about this book. Lucius's dry humor always makes me smile. His good nature, love for Jessica, and even his arrogance (or self-assurance) shows through his writing. Mindy is also a breath of fresh air. Even when she's complaining or sulking, I feel happier when I read her point of view. She's such a funny, ditzy type of girl who also manages to be strong, capable, and calculating. She's a crucial character.

Then we have Raniero, the mystery man. I love how Beth used Raniero. He is sexy and dangerous. But we aren't sure whether he's dangerous in a good way or in a bad way. Just when we think that we've figured it out, Beth throws a twist into the plot that has us distrusting our assumptions. Whether he's good or bad, Raniero is a great character. A goofy, thoughtless, zen-like surfer dude...at least on the surface.

Jessica Rules the Dark Side is a fabulous follow up to Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. The murder mystery keeps you on your toes as you wonder "whodunnit" and whether Jessica will be able to figure out the mystery in time to save Lucius. Plus, it features four distinct characters. Best of all, there's plenty of Lucius's dry wit - my favorite part of both books. I highly recommend this novel.

Rating: 4 / 5

17 comments:

  1. I totally agree with this review - I totally loved this book - I know a lot of people found Jessica to be annoying at the beginning, but as you've said, it makes perfect sense, and the character development is well done.

    Glad you enjoyed!

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  2. I really enjoyed the first in this series--like you, I wasn't expecting much when I first picked it up but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I like that this one is a good follow-up. Always nice when books follow the same enjoyment pattern!

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  3. I loved book one, and while I definitely still enjoyed this one, the timidness you mentioned with regard to Jessica frustrated me a bit. I wish she had come into her own a bit sooner, but otherwise it was another fun read:)

    Also, I get to meet you in a week. YAY!

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  4. I'm going to have to look up the first book, because this sounds really interesting. I actually really wish more YA books took place post high school.

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  5. Oh yay! I was also really surprised when I picked up Jessica #1. It was funny and a fun read. The letters were my favorite parts of the book. I loved reading about our banal life through a old, sophisticated, vamp's perspective. Looking forward to more of Lucius's dry humor. :)I'm glad that book 2 doesn't disappoint and I look forward to picking it up.

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  6. It sounds nice, I read the first one a while ago as well, and I was a little anxious about this one, I'm glad it was a good sequel, even if at first the characters were like that. thanks for the review.

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  7. I read the first one not too long ago and was pleasantly surprised! I definitely will be reading the second one too :) Thanks for the review!

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  8. Great review! I'm glad to learn that there are still vampire books worth reading being published. Thanks for sharing! :D

    lkhill.blogspot.com
    musingsonfantasia.blogspot.com

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  9. Maybe the reason you thought Jessica was a strong character in the first book was because you hadn't read a lot of the books you like now with all the really strong heroines? But I guess it's also the fact that she was in a foreign language. I have to add this to my TBR because I like the fact that the voices are all different. I hate it when all of them sound the same and I'm just groaning the entire way through the book. Great review, as usual!

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

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  10. Loved this book so much! AHHH! So glad you enjoyed the book as well.

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  11. You're right - the covers and titles of this series kind of makes me not want to read them. I love reading vampire stuff too, so I think I may just have to give them a try. Great review!

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  12. Oh my word. I can't believe that I have not read this one yet. I am right there with you. The first one surprised me so much. It was really good. And on the vamp phase - thought I was out of it but awesome vamp books keep on coming out and I get sucked in, no pun intended, all over again, LOL.

    Great review :)

    I really want to read this one now!!!


    Jennifer @ Dream Reads

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  13. I have waited too long to read this. I have to make the time. Thanks for the great detailed review and for the reminder.

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  14. "Given the stupid title"

    LOL! I think that is why I haven't read the first book even though I own it! Like you, I got it just because I knew it had vampires.

    And wow, that is a lot of POVs. I'm glad to know each voice is unique.

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  15. agrees with Missie here: Yes that is why I haven't read this one either. I didn't truly think this would be a great read. BUT, it actually sounds great! I heard a few peeps talking about this one and never gave it a second thought.. but I do love Vampires.... soooooo... ;)

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  16. I'm glad this wasn't a let down because I loved the first book. You described it perfectly; yes the title is stupid, but the book isn't supposed to be taken seriously. It is just pure fun.

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  17. I have yet to read the first book, but this admittedly intrigues me. Guess I'll be getting into the series before long :)

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