Review: Romancing The Dark In The City Of Lights by Ann Jacobus

Monday, September 7, 2015

Romancing The Dark In The City Of Light by Ann Jacobus
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Release date: Oct. 6th 2015
Genres: Realistic fiction, Contemporary romance, Magical realism
*Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's for the ARC given to me in exchange of an honest opinion*
Okay, can all please take a moment to behold the gorgeousness of that cover? My only wish is that I have the physical ARC, because that book is a sight to behold. The only reason I even clicked on the link to its Netgalley page was because of the cover. Well, that, and the picture of the Eiffel Tower. I love books that are set in other countries. And the perfectly romantic title helped, too, although it's a mouthful to say.

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

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 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 manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. 

The characters. They were all so real. Throughout the story, you can see all their strengths and weaknesses and the things that make them so freaking human.This was really important, considering the themes that run  through the book, and all the traits of the characters were brought out beautifully.

Summer was sometimes a bit tricky to relate to, but again, her character felt authentic. 

Mooney was so awesome and understanding and sweet and kind and ugh, too adorable.

Kurt. *SPOILERS* Kurt was...well... I don't know WHAT to think of him. As a real life person, he was terrible, but he wasn't supposed to be a real person, was he? I really don't know what Kurt personifies. My best guess is Death, which is kind of cool and creepy and makes sense, but Kurt could also be Life, you know? Exciting and fun and exhilarating at times, but life can also pull you down and make you feel terrible about yourself, like Kurt with Summer. OR he could be some creepy sadistic alien who appears differently to everyone  and encourages people to kill themselves. I don't know. Maybe it was the author's intention to confuse us or it's a kind of obvious thing that I WAS CLEARLY MISSING. Anyway, I loved the magical realism touch added through him (and like I said earlier, I'm beginning to adore the genre.)*SPOILERS OVER*

All the characters are immensely flawed, in ways that are mental, emotional and physical, and theri authenticity made me really hurt for them.

The major character development. The Summer we meet in the first chapter is TOTALLY different from the Summer we find in the end of the book. She goes through a lot, and she changes for the better. Mooney developed less as a character, but we still got to know him better, and really, this is mostly Summer's story, so I was okay with that.

The writing. Amazing. Truly amazing. The style flowed very smoothly, and seeing Paris through Summer's eyes was magical. Okay, so she doesn't think much of the city, but there was something in the way everything was described that added a dream-like feel to it all. There were times I reread entire paragraphs because the writing was so lovely and I wanted to savour it. The descriptions, the dialogue and everything else was a pleasure to read.

The themes running through the novel. There are some pretty serious issues in this novel, like alcoholism and suicide, but I loved how the author didn't push it in our faces and say "THIS IS GOOD, KIDS, AND THAT IS BAD". There is no "lesson". Through Summer, we understand what these issues are about, and we can empathise.

The beginning was a bit slow. I find this problem a lot in contemporaries, so maybe it's just me, but I was kind of waiting for something to happen. BUT, like I said, the writing was pretty awesome, and we meet Mooney, who is ALSO very awesome, so that was okay.

This book made me think a lot. While the cover and blurb may imply a heart-warming, light temporary, I have to warn you that this book is anything but. I did love how the romance was a part of this book. but not a HUGE part. I loved the characters and their personalities, and the plot was pretty intense. If you're sensitive to the topic of suicide, then I don't suggest you read this book, but otherwise, go for it! It's a great book.

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