Attempting to fill her birth-mother’s vampire shoes, Jessica does her best to stand at her husband’s side as he attempts to...

JESSICA RULES THE DARK SIDE

This disappointing sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (2009) finds Jessica (a.k.a. Antanasia) trying to find her place as wife, princess and vampire in the drafty halls of an ancient castle in Romania.

Attempting to fill her birth-mother’s vampire shoes, Jessica does her best to stand at her husband’s side as he attempts to bring peace and cell phones to the vampire world. Vivid hallucinations, a violent death and her husband’s imprisonment leave Jessica isolated in a country where she does not understand the language, the customs or whom to trust. Desperate, she calls on her shoe-loving friend, Mindy Sue. Mindy’s arrival triggers a visit from her ex-boyfriend, Raniero, a vampire with the laid-back attitude of a surfer but a dark and possibly violent past. Fantaskey’s lackluster story suffers from a wooden romance, weak characters and a mystery that is anything but mysterious. Jessica’s obtuseness and lack of initiative render her ineffective as the main character. However, spunky Mindy’s passionate-yet-tragic love for Raniero keeps the story from being a total bust. Readers hoping for a paranormal romance full of intrigue and passion will be seriously disappointed.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-39309-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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