Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (January 10, 2012)
Series: Jessica #2
Source: Finished book provided by publisher
Cover: I love that it mixes well with this first one but this shows a more confident Jessica. I'm also a fan of the plum color. I just noticed the stake now but it works well since we learn a lot about what stakes mean to vampires in this installment.
First Sentence: "Mother?"
Mini-Review: While the vampire lore and history makes for a compelling read, Jessica's meekness does slow down the plot.
I'm divided on Jessica Rules the Dark Side and I'm not sure if it is because I'm such a big fan of the first novel or not. I went into this novel with expectations because I remember falling in love with these characters. In some parts, particularly Jessica's character, I'm disappointed and other ways, with the introduction of two new perspectives, I am pleasantly surprised.
Jessica's cowardice really surprised me and made me very angry. I realize that the author was making her weak as a plot point and that she was thrust into this whole new world where she was overwhelmed but she becomes so meek that I really didn't like her at all. I liked how brave and intelligent she was in the first novel and to find her completely ruined in this one really made me upset. I can happily report that after 200 pages of ducking and hiding she finally comes into her own and it is something fierce and amazing to behold but I couldn't help but wonder if it was too little too late.
I missed Lucius something fierce in this novel. His absence was a tangible thing and though it was completely necessary, I wish that I'd gotten more of him. However, his letters to his best friend Raniero were funny and provided a much needed break of tension. Raniero's responses are just as funny and really highlight their differences. The history between Lucius and Raniero is by far the best thing about this novel. Mindy Sue also gets her own chapters. She shares most of the narrative with Jess. At first, I didn't love things in her perspective but she ended up being the one I could relate to the best. Plus, her voice is very unique and I liked seeing things from her point of view.
The vampire world is explored much more thoroughly in this novel and truly comes to life as all the characters learn how to live within. While Lucius understands his place, it is fun to watch how the other character's figure out where they fit into it all. With the meetings of the council, the way vampire law is governed, the addition of stakes and how vampire's deal with destruction, it was pretty easy to see why Jessica was intimated and it was all really interesting. Plus, the setting really helped the isolated feel but also give it a forgotten fantasy quality (they're living in a castle after all) which I liked.
Unfortunately, even though the plot is centered around a murder, it did sort of drag and a lot of time is wasted on Jessica moping around and whining to the world about how she can't get out of bed. This is certainly not something I wanted to spend 200 pages with it. Overall, I'm glad I stuck it out though because when she finally begins to change, her transformation is swift and amazing to behold. I just wish that she and Raniero started working out things earlier and she started changing from the beginning.
Basically, I wanted to like this novel the way I liked the first one and I just couldn't, mostly because of Jessica. It's sad because I liked her so much in the first and by the end, I liked her again. I just wanted so much more, so much earlier. Because of her unwillingness to face anything, the plot suffered too. However, the world of the vampires and Lucius and Raniero's history particularly, is very interesting and the ending does pay off. So if you're a fan of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, this is probably something you won't regret reading but be perpared to be angry at first.
Raniero and I faced each other across his bloody stake, that confession hanging between us.--Pg. 205 of "Jessica Rules the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey
It was a crazy connection, but I was in a completely whacked-out place [...] and I kinda left it alone to glow like Raniero's incense, to see if it might just catch fire in my head.--Pg. 207 of "Jessica Rules the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey
He always seemed to be reaching for something, like he was ambitious even in dreams.--Pg. 211 of "Jessica Rules the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey
Jess sounded like a different girl--a different woman then. Like she was channeling her birth mom and using a whole new vocabulary that was even better than Romanian. She was speaking royalty.--Pg. 281 of "Jessica Rules the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey