Thursday, April 26, 2012
"Jessica Rules the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt (Thomas Allen and Son)
From Goodreads: "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?"
When I started reading this book I had a really big problem with it, that being that Jessica and Lucius's wedding scene wasn't actually included within this book, it was written in a novella-like form on the author's website. From my experience novella's are written for pure entertainment value/ have little to no impact upon the story- typically they just show us a different side of its characters that we haven't seen before, or they elaborate upon something in the plot (like Rachel Vincent's "Reaper" novella, which shows us how Tod died and came to be a reaper). But this was NOT the case for this novella, you HAVE to read it in order to fully comprehend what is happening in this book, otherwise everything is out of context (for instance, "Why does Mindy play such a large role in this book?", "Who the heck are Raniero and Ylenia?", and, "Why does Mindy make a mad dash out of a room whenever Raniero enters it?"). Furthermore, I found the novella to be ill-advertised (I mean, I didn't know it existed until after I read the book and flipped to the front of the it and found in itty bitty writing, "To read about Jessica and Lucius's wedding, go to www.bethfantaskey.com"). I think that there were better ways to have distributed the novella, like including it in this book, not unlike how Rachel Vincent's novellas are now being included in her "Soul Screamers" omnibus', or having it available for download so that readers could read it on their E-readers (I don't know about y'all, but I LOATHE reading things on the computer, I would much rather read them on my Kindle).
Because I had no idea what was going on for the large majority of the first half of the novel (and the fact that I found everything to be extremely slow moving), it took me FOREVER to read this book, I kept dragging my feet- I could literally only read twenty or so pages at a time before I would become overwhelmed and have to put it down (according to Goodreads it took me 23 days to read this book which is crazy to me as I can usually finish one or two in a single day). However, once I hit the halfway point of the book (and started to better grasp what was going on) I found it to be much more manageable and I believe that I was able to finish it within a couple of hours.
Like with the previous book, "Jessica's Guide to Dating the Dark Side", I very much enjoyed Lucius's letters in this book, though letters written to Raniero, Lucius's cousin, rather than his uncle. Again, the letters were still chock-full of Lucius' dry humor, but they went beyond that- they were also chock-full of raw emotion. I was never quite sold on Lucius's feelings for Jessica until I read said letters, the letters made me swoon all the more for him.
While in the first book I found Jessica to be quite lacking in personality, I found that in this book it was much more developed and complex (though admittedly it did take a bit to get there, at about the halfway point it finally reared its head). I also enjoyed the fact that she actually grew throughout this book, becoming a strong woman who would make her mother proud.
Furthermore, not only did I come to like Jessica in this book, but I did eventually come to like Mindy and Raniero. Admittedly I didn't think that there was much to Mindy in the first book in this series, I just thought that she was a stereotypical YA book BFF, just there for the sake of being there as she twirled her hair around her finger and snapped her gum, but she was anything but. She was quite a complex character who was placed into a number of difficult situations (like trying to appease her mother, trying to find herself, and the likes of). I thought that she brought a lot of comedic value to this story. As for Raniero? Well, he was tall, dark and handsome (with a European accent!), so I think that there is little more that we could ask for/ want.
I received this book from the publisher to read and review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.