Jessica's Guide to Dating of the Dark Side
Published 2011 by Harcourt
YA paranormal romance
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is corny, clichéd, and occasionally idiotic, but enjoyable. It doesn't look like much at first, but it improves a lot and makes for a nice light read.
Dating on the Dark Side follows high school student Jessica Packwood. Jessica does not believe in the supernatural. She believes in science, and things that can be proven. So when the new boy in school introduces himself as her fiancé and informs her that they're both vampires, she scoffs. But eventually she realizes that something doesn't add up about her worldview. And while she may not believe in vampires, the rest of the town isn't so sure.
At first the characters annoyed me so much that I almost put the book down. The plot and the world seemed incredibly cheesy. The book contained every YA PNR stereotype known to man. So when I started to enjoy the book, I almost resented it for drawing me in. But it actually turned into more than I would have expected from the first half.
Early in the book, Lucius was an unbelievably obnoxious snob who thought power was merely privilege. Now many love interests in these kinds of books can be jerks sometimes, but Lucius was a repellent jerk all the time. I couldn't imagine, from the first half of the book, anyone ever finding him attractive. But then Lucius underwent a rare and mysterious process known as "character development." He became someone who was, if not exactly "good" then at least sympathetic. While some of that process did involve rather over-the-top American "we're so awesome" undertones, it was impressive to see him change from a character I hated to someone I actually respected.
Although I would have appreciated a little more growth from Jessica as well, she did change throughout the book, though less than Lucius did. She was a bit on the boring and desperate side and made some seriously questionable decisions, but by the end of the book she started to grow into her heritage. With luck, in the next book she'll be more interesting.
As someone who appreciates grand worldbuilding, I was underwhelmed by Dating on the Dark Side. The book mainly follows basic vampire legend – except for the sunlight thing, because no one does the sunlight thing anymore. Vampires were the extent of the supernatural, and they lived in rival clans, mainly in Romania. It works for the book, though, so this isn't really a complaint, just an observation. However, some of the cheesiness in the story was a bit on the wrong side of ridiculousness.
Overall, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side was a light, enjoyable read that would be great for a rainy day. Despite its flaws and first impressions, it's actually a pretty decent little book and worth a try for any vampire fan out there.
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