Released: February 1, 2009
The undead can really screw up your senior year...I picked up this book because after reading Beth's second novel, Jekel Loves Hyde, I heard most people preferred her debut. Based on the synopsis and my opinion of the aforementioned title (which I enjoyed, but didn't love), I expected Jessica to be a light-hearted, fluffy read. It was anything but! Jessica's Guide was a surprisingly well written, plot-driven adventure.
Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year "get-a-life" plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth - and he's her long-lost fiance. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war - and save Lucius's soul from eternal destruction.
When Lucius Vladescu shows up at Jessica's school claiming to be her long, lost betrothed, Jess doesn't exactly take him seriously. Who would? Unfortunately for Jess, Lucius happens to be right: she really is a Romanian vampire princess. Jessica, of course, denies this as best as she can and tries her best to ignore Lucius. However, Lucius is determined to show Jessica who she really is and eventually make her his queen. While the developing relationship between Jessica and Lucius is certainly important, just as important is Jessica's journey of self discovery and self acceptance. We may not all be vampire princesses, but I think most readers can relate to Jessica's struggles.
Jessica and Lucius are obviously the focus of this novel, but one of my favorite aspects was the development of the supporting characters. Jessica's best friend Mindy is fiercely loyal and provides frequent comic relief, and Jessica's vegan parents are just the right mix of cool yet protective. They all are obviously an important part of Jessica's life, and it shows on the pages.
Fantaskey's debut hooks the reader with smartly written characters and keeps them turning the pages with an incredibly original story. Jessica and Lucius are one of my favorite couples in all of YA, and Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is by far my favorite vampire novel. Readers tired of the slew of vampire novels should really give this one a try. The only thing that glitters in this novel is the fantastic (pun intended) writing.