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September 6, 2012

Review of Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

 

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She’s even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper’s cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something’s not quite right about the school — or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She’s also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school…and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
Publication Date:  July 3, 2012
Publisher: Tor/Macmillan
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** This title was provided to us by the publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinion **

When it came to Dark Companion I went into the story blindfolded.  I had no information about the story whatsoever except that it is supposed to be one of the best novels being released in this year of 2012.  So as you can imagine, I was a bit hesitant towards the novel and I’m pleased to say that Dark Companion by author Marta Acosta sent me over the moon with happiness.  Just as I was told, this novel really is one of the best of 2012 and even this early in the review I’m saying that if you’re a fan of vampire lore (like me) you’ll fall in love with Dark Companion.  It’s a new twist on vampire mythology and human genetics.

The novel itself began in a way that instantly hooked my attention with a prologue that begins with the day that the main character “died”.  That’s interesting.  Trust me.  Especially since it’s technically the end of the novel at the start of the novel.  A little confusing I know, so I’ll move on.  Dark Companion is about teenager, Jane Williams, who is an orphan who, thanks to a tragic accident, has no memories of her life before being put into the foster program.  After making a promise to her dead friend, Hosea, to become successful, Jane finds herself being sent away from her foster home and to the elite Birch Grove Academy.  Which is full of dark family secrets that will keep your head spinning continuously throughout the novel.

The Academy itself was one that I found refreshing compared to the ones that are clichéd in the YA universe.  It isn’t really one that is full of slutty rich girls, sex, drugs and drinking.  I seriously want to thank the author for keeping the Academy far from those topics since I find that they take away from a story by a long shot.  Regardless, Birch Grove is for extraordinary girls meaning that each character that we were introduced to was exceptionally intelligent and spoke a foreign language.  One of my favorite characters in the entire novel wasn’t the main character Jane but her friend Mary Violet who, despite being obsessed with romance and other… mature aspects that come with romance, was flat out hilarious.

I will admit that it took the novel to get through half the story to eventually get to the exciting parts of the novel about “vampires”.  While I won’t exactly say who the vampires are (because I’m pretty sure that’s a spoiler) I will warn readers that these are not the vampires that you know.  The vampires in Dark Companion are still humans except that they have a blood deficiency that causes them to crave human blood.  So main character Jane finds herself being considered to be a “Companion” who is a person that becomes the “vampire’s personal blood–bank.  Personally, I found that the relationship between a companion and a “vampire” shows a girl’s need to feel wanted by somebody other than themselves.

While the romantic area of the novel was found a lot later in the story, I have to admit that though Lucky is shown as a very chivalrous character, I was crushing hard on Jack.  Who was funny, cute and a bit of a smart-ass.  I would recommend this novel to fans of vampire lore, YA readers looking for something new or interesting and to readers who want to try something new.  Dark Companion is the definition of awesome.

Be sure to check out the Tor Girls Night(mare) Out where Marta will be touring with  Lisa DesRochers, author of thePersonal Demons series, and Kendare Blake, author of the Anna series.  You can check out the details on Marta’s blog!

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4 Comments

  1. Great review! I’ve been wanting to read this but was unsure if I should since it had mixed reviews. But you convinced me! I love vampires and I like that this gives a spin on the usual vampire myth. Moving this up on my TBR pile. :)
    Courtney @ Courtney Reads A Lot recently posted..Waiting on Wednesday (6)My Profile

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  2. kimbacaffeinate
    9/6/2012

    I really enjoyed this dark world Acosta created, so glad you enjoyed it.

    [Reply]

  3. Leigh
    9/6/2012

    Nice review! I never actually read a book that began with the ending, usually those types of scenes are in movies so this one’s interesting!

    Leigh | Little Book Star
    Leigh recently posted..Interview with Jody Gehrman (author of Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft)My Profile

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  4. Janina
    9/7/2012

    I enjoyed this book, but I thought the whole tree thing they had going on throughout the novel was weird. lol I couldn’t get into that. But I did love the different take on vampires. I thought that was an awesome concept and something completely out the norm.

    Awesome review Gabby :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading
    Janina recently posted..Kiss of Frost by Jennifer EstepMy Profile

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