Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
Release Date –  July 3, 2012
Publisher Website –  Tor/Macmillan/Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**obtained from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads 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?
This atmospheric, Gothic inspired tale had a lot of promise. The setting intrigued me, the plot was a little different and there were a few likeable characters.

The beginning of the novel started out a little slow for me. I found I was more interested when the mystery started to come together and we started to found out more about Lucien, and Birch Grove. This happens in the middle portion and I found myself reading that section much more quickly. The ending tapered off and did not hold my interest as well as the middle section.

Jane's personality seems to be almost made up of two different characters. The street smart, savvy survivor that her character is first presented as and the naive, easily manipulated girl that gets taken advantage of. I did like that she was trying to be more than where she was from, and worked hard to get there. It was admirable and showed that people have choice, and can choose to work hard and strive for more.

Lucien (or Lucky as he is usually called) intrigued me at first. I quickly got over that and realized he is selfish and needed to have someone finally tell him NO. He is quite used to getting his own way and has led a privileged life.

Mary Violet is hilarious. She’s confident, outgoing, outrageous and an instant friend to Jane. Her habit of making up new words was cute. The fact that she wanted to “funnify” Jane was adorable. She is the type of friend that drags you into crazy situations, but they end up being some of the best memories.

Jack is the typical sarcastic guy with the heart of gold underneath. His pet names for Jane were endearing. His belief in pixies and other fairytales was something I kept expecting it to play a larger part in the story than it did. He was charming and I easily wanted Jane to ditch her infatuation with Lucien and focus on Jack.

Those hoping for a unique or surprising paranormal twist will be disappointed. The explanation that is given is quite unique but not paranormal in the slightest. It was actually my favourite part of the novel. Without giving anything away the “paranormal” element is given a rational, scientific explanation. I have never read a novel that has taken this approach and it was what saved the novel for me.

The mystery of the missing girl, and the missing faculty member unravels and is plotted to keep your interest. The motivations of the characters were also well developed. Jealousy can be a powerful and dangerous emotion in the hands of the right individual.

A promising premise that was different than I was expecting and some engaging characters saved this novel for me. I think that some may love this, but for me it ended up being just an average read.

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