Thursday, 5 July 2012

Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta & interview

Title: Dark Companion
Author: Marta Acosta
Author Info:|Website|Blog|Twitter|Facebook|
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Author
Format: Manuscript
Publication Date: July 3rd 2012

Tell Me About It
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 Thoughts
I got my copy of Dark Companion as a manuscript from Marta Acosta late last year so I have been sitting on this review for a while. 
From the moment I started reading I was hooked. Dark Companion has a mixture of secrets, mysteries, friendships and romance and of course hot boys and great friendships. 
It tells the story of Jane, who survived an accident that killed her, but was brought back to life with no memories just a left over scar.  Jane is offered a scholarship to attend Birch Grove School, which she accepts to escape the hellhole she lives in. At Birch Grove, weird things are going on and Jane discovers what is happening, along the way making great friends and falling in love.

I really enjoyed reading Dark Companion. I found it hard to stop reading, and each night stayed up later and later, trying to get more read to see what happens next.  The writing is paced nicely so you don't feel like the story is rushing to get to an important part. I loved the girls that Jane makes friends with and laughed at some of the comments they made.
"You're the creme de la creme. That's French for "all that and a bag of chips".

I disliked Lucky, I thought he was arrogant, self centred and pretentious and acted like a complete jerk most all of the time. His actions were done to only ensure it was what was best for him alone, and never thought of the consequences of them.  Jack I really liked, although he was a little strange and quirky he made me laugh a lot, especially his nicknames for Jane, but he was more free spirited and did a lot of things for others, and making sure they were safe or ok.

I had some suspicions about what was happening with one of the characters, but didn't expect what was really going on and was blown away with all the twists and turns and was never able to pin point exactly the right answer. The final chapters had me on tenterhooks with what was going to happen and was a complete suprise with the characters involved.

I laughed, cried and cheered for Jane, laughing for the anticts her friends got into to, cried for her loss and her memories and cheered when she stands up for herself and makes the right choice.  Marta certainly knows how to keep her readers interested and I am looking forward to reading more from Marta, from her previous books Happy Hour at Casa Dracula and hopefully future books to come. I will definately be buying an actual copy of this book when its released.

My favourite quote has to be

"Life isn't fair, so you have to play the best game you can with the cards you're dealt".

Marta also found time in her busy schedule to answer some questions for me.
1. What made you want to become a writer?
I don’t know that I wanted to be a writer so much as I wrote compulsively. I kept journals, wrote letters and postcards, wrote notes to my friends, wrote bad poetry and short fiction, wrote funny essays. I’ve always been in love with words.

2. How long did it take to get your first book published, from having the ideas to actually seeing it in a book?
Years. I was working full time, writing freelance feature articles for newspapers, and also writing and editing a humor webzine. I’d write a chapter here and there just for fun. I can’t tell you exactly when I finished the book. Sending it out to agents took months, and then getting the deal took months. The book came out about two years after the sale, which is typical.
3. How do you go about writing books. Do you have an idea in mind for what will happen throughout, or do you have a start and finish and just fill in the middle?
I start with a vague concept and develop it. I used to write chapter by chapter, but now I write an outline, which gives me a framework. I can always change the plot along the way and I usually rethink characters and develop subplots.

4. Which book has been your favourite to write and why?
In terms of fun, it was Haunted Honeymoon, which is Casa Dracula book four.. Over the years, I’d developed the characters so they were like close friends. I was able to give my main character, Milagro, the wonderful ending she deserved and tie up all the loose threads.
However, writing Dark Companion, my YA Gothic, was deeply satisfying. The story is my homage to Jane Eyre, a book I first stumbled upon in the library when I was 12 or 13. The angry, lonely, determined girl seemed very real to me.

5. What has been the best experience of being a writer so far?
The very best experience is getting letters from fans. It’s amazing to me that readers all over the world enjoy my books and take the time to send me a note. I feel very fortunate.

6. If you had to to pick a different job, what would you do and why?
I would be an electrician, because then I could do something useful for myself, my family, and my friends. I’d be able to fix the broken light fixture in my bedroom, and I’d also be earning a decent paycheck.

7. Were you nervous making the change from paranormal with your Casa Dracula series, to Young Adult for Dark Companion?
There are paranormal elements in Dark Companion, because I wanted continuity in my writing career. Most classic Gothics have paranormal or supernatural elements, so it was a natural transition. The big shift was really from romantic comedy to a darker story. I did sneak in a humorous character, and her scenes grew with every rewrite.
I do worry that many readers want a perfectly beautiful heroine who makes the right decision every time. Perfection doesn’t interest me though. People who don’t make mistakes never take chances either. I’m fascinated by our errors in judgment, by ambiguity, by emotional conflict, by opposing motives.
Some readers have asked me about my characters, “If she’s so smart, how come she makes stupid mistakes?” The answer is: bright people do stupid things all the time. Bright people choose what is immediately desirable, not what is ultimately wise. People can be misinformed, uninformed, and inexperienced. However, bright people learn from their errors. I’m writing about that process.

Thanks so much for having me here, Michelle!

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