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Review: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light: A Novel - Ann Jacobus

I received a copy from Netgalley. 


This was a bit of total cover lust for me. Hot pink cover, set in Paris was pretty much a must have. Though I was worried it was going to be another Anna and the French Kiss. Which also has a gorgeous pink cover and is set in Paris. However, I was quite pleased to find that this book is nothing like Anna. The style of this book was a little weird. The plot was kind of bizarre but in a weird way I would up really liking it. 


It tells the story of Summer, an 18 year old shipped off to stay with her rich mother in Paris. Summer has been kicked out of numerous high schools the last few years, and has an obvious drinking problem which is not glossed over or buried in the romance side of the novel. Summer is set to gain a huge inheritance if she graduates high school and so many years of college before she's 22. She's failing miserably and the prospect of gaining this whopping inheritance is slipping from her grasp. 


Summer is one of the most unusual YA heroines I have come across in a long time. She's sort of more an anti-heroine. She's delightfully snarky and speaks her mind with little regard to consequences over what comes out. But she's also belligerent, crude, careless. She's spoiled and its clear she has the potential to be very intelligent, but she just doesn't seem to care about anything. She's also an alcoholic who keeps a flask with her almost all the time, even at school, and can't seem to get through the day without a drink.  Summer is struggling with the recent death of her father, but it appears she's been drinking well before that happened.


In spite of all her shortcomings, I did find myself actually rather liking Summer as the novel progressed. Once you get to grips with the way the story is told, its hard not to become captivated by her journey. 


At her new school in Paris she makes friends with a delightful Muslim boy, Munir, or Mooney to his friends. He's been crippled in an accident, but doesn't let this hamper him in any way. He's bright, he's friendly, he's witty, and totally charming. He get's Summer's attention right away. Their friendship and more develops in ups and downs throughout the novel. Some of the writing when the romance comes in is quite sweeping and beautifully poetic. Summer at least, knows she has problems and thinks even though she really likes Mooney, she'll never be good enough for him. 


At the same time, Summer's attention is also captivated by a mysterious male figure, Kurt. Kurt is the epitome of European tall dark and handsome. He appears as if out of nowhere and always seems to pop up when terrible things happen. When suicides happen. Summer finds herself present for these unfortunate evens, and Kurt seems to be there as well. She never has any ways of contacting him, he always turns up seemingly at random. He brings out the worst in her. He may have been a smooth talker, but he was an arrogant dick. 


The view point of the novel is strange, it's third person present tense, which seemed odd for a novel with such involved subject matters as mental health, alcoholism and suicide. It took some getting used to, and it times, even though it was weird, the writing was really lyrical and beautiful. Dark, but captivating. 


The novel tells of Summer's dealing with her drinking, a shock revelation about her father's death, whether she will ever live up to the terms of her inheritance, her feelings for Mooney and her feelings for Kurt.  Kurt is pretty much a huge question mark. Was he real? Was he something abnormal? Its almost impossible to tell. I didn't get him, at all. I'm Team Mooney.  I thought Mooney was a wonderful character. His strength and understanding of Summer and her eccentricities was pretty amazing. Though it wasn't all smooth sailing with Mooney either. There was plenty of drama there too. 


I was also pleased to see that Summer shows incredible character growth by the end of the novel. She has to wake up and actually deal with things in a non self destructive way. I did think the last little bit at the end was a tad bit eye rolling and unrealistic. But it did make me smile. 


All in all, a slightly weird, but very deep novel dealing very well with some dark and uncomfortable themes. 


Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for approving my request to view the title.