Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta (ARC)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...Dark Companion
Marta Acosta
Exp. Pub.: July 3, 2012 TODAY!!!

Synopsis: 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?

When I first started reading Dark Companion, it had been awhile since I had read the synopsis. So when I realized this was about a girl growing up in the foster system, who wanted desperately to get her grades up so she could go to an elite school on scholarship, I immediately thought, Crap...this sounds like my paranormal romance Falling In Between. Luckily the similarities stopped there, as mine is a little less paranormal and a little more edgy in terms of coming to age situations. If all you've read so far is the synopsis, whatever you think Dark Companion is about, you're totally wrong...just want to throw that out there.  And when you do finally find out, you may just think eww...

The protagonist is your run of the mill Plain Jane. And with a budget of zero dollars, thrift store clothes, five minutes in the shower that isn't long enough to the wash cheap shampoo out of your hair, and not even powder to put on your face, who wouldn't be a Plain Jane? Once out of the slums and living at school, Jane's showered with an allowance and a whole new wardrobe, and the ugly duckling soon transforms into a swan. Okay, the improvement only goes so far, but that's because it takes Jane the length of the novel to realize she's got a little beauty both inside and out.

Jane is one hardened cookie. A lifetime of hardship makes it difficult for others to knock down her walls, and several are trying to do so, including both sons of the Headmistress. Lucky is incredibly handsome, and has caught the eye of every girl in school. Jane is set up to tutor him in chemistry, but it doesn't take her long to realize he doesn't need any tutoring, and that he's using it as an excuse to hang out with her for a more sinister reason. Jack is a little older, and constantly aggravating her, always calling her halfling cause he swears she appeared out of thin air when they first met...and ended up running her over with his bike. For reasons Jane can't fathom, Jack's always lurking around in the background, watching her every move.

The longer Jane stays at school, the more she learns about the previous scholarship girl BeBe and her sudden departure. Her disappearance is suspect, and with the strange suicide of the school's nurse, things just don't add up. The more Jane uncovers about the school's past, the more danger she brings to the present, and it may end up costing the lives of those she's finally learned to care about.

What I really enjoyed about Dark Companion was the comic banter of Jane's friends, particularly that of Mary Violet. If you've ever watched Gilmore Girls, it's a lot like the crazy conversations Rory and her mom Lorelai had, except instead of the subject matter pertaining to an endless knowledge of pop culture, it's more literature-based. Mary Violet was definitely the best part of this book, as she was absolutely crazy, always spouting her own creative poetry and she's just incredibly likeable. I'd love to read a novel from her point of view! Hint, hint Ms. Acosta <gently nudges with elbow>...

Check this book out. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I had to read this in one day, constantly having to recharge my dead Kindle Fire cause I wouldn't let it charge for more than 15 minutes at a time, ancy to get back to the story.

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

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