Double Monster Review: Dark Companion

Double Monster Review: Dark CompanionDark Companion by Marta Acosta
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on July 3rd 2012
Pages: 368
Goodreads

Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true. They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….

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I started reading this one a little bit blindly. I hadn't heard much about it, but then again I hadn't searched out any reviews. I rarely do for it ruins the surprise sometimes. It was another boarding school novel about an orphan and had supernatural elements, so I knew I was going to read it sooner or later.
 
This book surprised me a bit, even from the start. Our lead character Jane is from the hood, her best friend is a prostitute and she even chats with the gang boss before leaving for her new life. I knew this would play into the rest of the story at some point, but not quite to the angle I was thinking it was going.
 
Jane is given her own small cottage to live on campus of the school. She finds out that there is more to the headmistress and her family and that she was brought there for more than her smarts. Her two sons are gorgeous. One pale and popular, the other strikingly darker and more cynical about life. When she's asked to tutor Lucien, the pale and popular one, she can't wait, thinking that maybe the gorgeous guy will fall for her as she has fallen for him.
 
But his brother keeps poking his head around, confusing her as to what he is really saying behind all his double meanings and cynical humor. I of course fell for Jack right away and I knew she would eventually. He was more genuine and interesting than the pretty Lucien, who really only wanted to use Jane for his own needs, not as anything more than a friend if that.
 
Beyond that is the wonderful friendships Jane forms with three of the girls at this school. MJ being my favorite character, she was a whimsical and very funny girl who wanted very much to be a romance writer and used ridiculous words and constantly asked what others were thinking after she said something flouncy and extraordinary. I just loved her character and Jane forms a quick friendship with the girl for all her silliness.
 
I honestly think that the characters made this book for me. The plot was okay. Sort of simple and straight forward, the tingling mystery behind the family and a confused villian who tries to kill Jane at some point. The plot didn't pull me in, it started as the romance and want for attention, but the characters really made the book. It's nice to see side characters really help the story along. Jane herself was sort of a broken girl who wanted to belong, so she seemed at times overshadowed by everyone else in the story which fit in a way as to why she was chosen.
 
Final Verdict:
 
A fairly interesting story with some great characters. Looking forward to more from this author.
 

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Sometimes when I am on the fence about reading a book, it helps me to check out reviews. I usually I stay away from doing this because I like the surprise element for my reads. But for some reason, I could not get a solid read for Dark Companion. Based on the few reviews I glanced over, it seemed like I was not the only one having some hesitance. Dark Companion seemed like it was going to be one of those love it or leave it type reads.

Dark Companion, for me, was divided into two parts. Before the reveal and after.

Before the reveal… Dark Companion had a lot going for it. Jane, our main character, was practical but interesting. Her new friends complemented her wonderfully and made the book come alive. The boys and the suspense around the school added an interesting element. So, I was feeling pretty good about Dark Companion. Sure, it was a little slow. But the humor interwoven made it bearable.

After the reveal… my palm hit my forehead quite a few times. The frustration had nothing to do with the reveal itself. But rather, Jane's reactions. Jane in the matter of a few sentences throws everything that she has preached about for chapter upon chapter out the window. Her street smarts, her practicality, everything. Turning her, in the matter of a few paragraphs, from a character worth knowing into a character that seemingly comes out of nowhere and, stereotypically, may be to stupid to live. Does she redeem herself? Honestly, I do not know. Very soon after this sudden character change emerges, I, after some thought, decided that I could not continue with Dark Companion.

Final Verdict:

I wish I could say otherwise, but Dark Companion was a DNF for me. I loved the secondary characters and the paranormal premise. But Jane and Lucky ruined it for me. Well, Jane more than Lucky. (But that is a whole different conversation, meant for another day.) Dark Companion with a few tweaks may have been a finishable read, but as it stands, was not the book for me.

Kristen

Kristen is the co-blog owner of The Book Monsters. Kristen is an Elementary School Library Media Specialist in the Chicago suburbs who loves reading. Why else would she be a librarian?

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