From Goodreads: 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?
My Rating: 1.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: If you had asked me how I felt about Marta Acosta’s Dark Companion when I first started it, I would have said that it was pretty decent. Yes, it was kind of slow and didn’t have the most interesting protagonist; but, I liked the Gothic atmosphere. The story also seemed to suggest that it was only going to get better, and I couldn’t wait to figure out what mysterious and thrilling secrets Birch Grove Academy held.
Midway through the book though, the story took a turn for the worse. Since I don’t want to ruin the plot, let’s just say that the latter part of the book involves bloodplay – which I might have been okay with if Acosta had decided to take her story into the paranormal realm. Instead, the characters stressed repeatedly that rather than being paranormal creatures, they were only suffering from an ‘autosomal recessive genetic disorder.’ When combined with the super descriptive scenes, it just felt so, so weird!
Since I didn’t love any of the characters either, I seriously debated whether I wanted to finish Dark Companion or not. I did; but much to my dismay, the story didn’t get better! Not only did I slog through the awkwardness to get an extremely neat ending, but characters magically changed their minds or feelings to achieve that ending! (Oh, and it’s hinted that maybe there’s just a bit of paranormal to this story after all. I’m still not sure what to make of that part.)
Anyways, let’s move on to the characterization. In general, I thought the characters were one-dimensional and had incredibly unrealistic dialogue. Also, their tendency to have nicknames – two completely lame ones being Lucky and Ornery – and/or give it to what felt like every single person or thing just grated on my nerves! In spite of this, Mary Violet somehow managed to grow on me.
Jane, however, did the total opposite by becoming the epitome of a TSTL character! I get that she desperately wants to be loved, but it boggles my mind how amazingly dim she became after falling – instant love alert! – for Lucky, an abusive jerk who was so obviously using her (and even says so!).
Before reading Dark Companion, I’d seen reviews for it claiming how different it was. I’d have to agree … except it wasn’t different in a good way for me!
Dark Companion was released in July 2012 by Tor.
Comments About the Cover: I’m really going to have to stop judging books by their pretty covers!
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Tor) for free via NetGalley.