Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.
Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on the right track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city--and way out of her depth.
When Summer's behavior manage to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

MY TAKE:
Well, this book was certainly not what I thought it would be.

In Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, Summer's academic career isn't exactly flourishing, which in turn is threatening her inheritance. She knows she could care more, but everything seems so overwhelming for her. She thinks finding romance may help her focus, and while it does help a little bit, Summer's problem runs much deeper than she realizes.

To be honest, I thought this would be similar to Sarah Dessen's novels. While the topic is certainly something that could be covered in one of her novels, the tone and the plot twists are very different.

I was under the impression that this would be mostly a romance novel. There was romance, of course, but ultimately, that wasn't what this book was about. The biggest topics here are: alcoholism, depression and suicide. These are important issues that a lot of teens and young adults face but not a lot of them are able to get help for it. If this book can encourage them to seek help, especially through the resources included at the end of the book, then that's great.

However, this is one of those books that I don't think was meant for me. During my darker moments a long time ago, maybe, but now not so much. That's not because I couldn't relate to any of them, because Moony pretty much acted and said the things that I wanted to say to Summer. I think it was partly because of the biggest plot twist, which I guessed long before Summer did, but which I thought was too absurd to be correct. I didn't know how to feel once I knew for sure because I did not expect there to be a supernatural element to the story. A part of me does get how it can work, though.

Another reason I didn't love the book was because of Summer. I couldn't relate to Summer, except at the very end. She's alcoholic but refuses to acknowledge it. She has no financial troubles, whether or not she gets her inheritance. The only thing she really needs to do is try and do a good job at school or, at the very least, pass her classes. I was a straight-edge honor student, and it was painful for me to watch her self-destructive behavior. At least she was able to acknowledge that other people had it much worse than she had, which is a difficult thing to do when you're depressed.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a frighteningly realistic look at alcoholism and depression.
  2. It's like going on a tour of Paris.
  3. The characters are also realistic.

THE BAD:

  1. I'm still not sure if the big secret that Kurt was hiding was a good twist or a bad one.

READ IT IF:

  1. You've struggled with alcoholism or know someone who has.
  2. You've suffered from depression or had suicidal thoughts.
  3. You love Paris. 

RATING:
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