Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dark Companion ~ Marta Acosta review

Dark Companion
July 3, 2012
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Jane Williams has spent the last decade i foster care, the last four in a group hone. Now, at sixteen, she's found a way out, one born of a mixture of luck and hard work.

Not always the good girl, a combination of circumstances showed Jane the alternative - and gave her something to work towards. Her somewhere better? Birch Grove Academy for Girls, a full scholarship. Away from the violent, inner-city neighborhood Jane's used to and so different from the underfunded school, Birch Grove seems like a dream come true. Jane will even have her own living quarters, a cottage on the school grounds.

But is Birch Grove everything it's made out to be. Is there something nefarious afoot at the school or is Jane, so unaccustomed this sort of life seeing things where there's nothing to see?

It should be an ideal school for Jane - who loves science - it has all of the newest equipment, the best teachers and the students are welcoming. The headmistress is welcoming as well, ready to have Jane over for dinner - but it's her sons, the gorgeous Lucky and Jack who's on her bad side from moment one - who she can't seem to stay away from.

When Jane finds out more about Lucky's recreational activities, just why Birch Grove is so secluded and cut off from the outside world and learns the possible fate of the last scholarship student, will her idea of her new school change?

Dark Companion was touted as a paranormal read, but the paranormal element never really came to much fruition. There was a side aspect, with Jane -- hopefully this isn't spoilery -- that was the most paranormal element to the tale. The main story line, that seemed it would turn paranormal stayed just on the precipice of paranormal, but never quite tumbled off it.

That part did disappoint me a bit, possibly because I'm also reading Marta Acosta's Casa Dracula series (a vampire series) and expected something different here than what I got. If I hadn't been expecting a paranormal, things may have been different, but I was.

What Dark Companion does do really is establish Jane's life pre-Birch Grove. Her life in foster care isn't used to make her some 'other' to the Birch Grove students, or not solely for that. She has a real past there. It creates a great reason for her going to Birch Grove in the first place, but it also sets up really nice parts of her character an personality that come into play later in the story. Actions Jane, reactions or thoughts she has wouldn't work if she was a character coming from an average family or background.

I also really enjoyed Jack's character. There are smaller things about him that we learn through other characters, or that are brought in when Jane's not even paying attention or is too busy disliking him. He has a lot of depth and fits well into the story.

It may have been personal preference, but I disliked Lucky and I disliked Jane liking - or being so infatuated, actually, with Lucky. I understand her background, yes, but I just don't do well in books with girls who can't get enough of guys who are not nice to them. I didn't feel that we saw some inner struggle with Lucky to redeem his other actions enough for me to like him. Except for one scene he was a jerky character and I wanted to knock Jane on the head. (Sorry!)

Jane, otherwise was a great character. She had a lot of depth, she didn't immediately do anything (Lucky feelings excluded), she had uncertainty, she tried to stay true to herself even when she wasn't quite sure just who that was.

Rating: 6/10

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