Name: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
Author: Ann Jacobus
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
This story is about Summer Barnes who is in her senior year for the third time and has to graduate in order to receive the fortune her grandfather left for her on the condition that she does. She moves to Paris to live with her mother and attends school there. She meets a mysterious boy called Kurt who makes her do bad things and a boy named Munir at school who makes her feel good and pure. Who will she choose? Good or bad, dark or light?
This story was not the lighthearted love story I was expecting – it had a far more sombre tone and was not primarily a love story. It touches on some dark themes and portrays Paris as less of a wonderland park where love blooms in every square inch but as more of a city, with both dark and light.
The writing of the book is in third person but would have worked better in first person as we see only Summer and her life and thoughts so having her narrate would have given the book more personality. The writing is decent, but boring – it has it’s moments but they are short lived.
I wanted to pick this up because I want to read books set in Europe and this is set in Paris. What really stands out about this book is it’s descriptions of the city – Jacobus talks about the dark side of Paris instead of the pretty lights, towers and cafés. She talks about proustites and crime and suicide which was really interesting as those aren’t terms I usually associate with Paris. She portrayed the city very realistically without sugarcoating anything.
Summer was a frustrating character to read. She knew what she was doing was wrong but continued anyway. She seemed like a bomb who was going to explode and was very immature at times. She goes through major character development and I’m happy with how she changed by the end, but as a protagonist, she wasn’t relatable nor likable for me. Kurt was a mysterious bad boy type and I absolutely hated him. His characterisation is impeccable and finding out about who he really was, was shocking. I’ve never read a character like him, but his character traits were very realistic, though his job wasn’t. Munir “Moony” was an absolute sweetheart and I’m so happy he isn’t shown as a typical Knight in shining armour. He has his moments of weakness that are maybe even worse than Summer’s. He was very sweet and not a conventional good boy character. It was very refreshing to see a character as witty and smart as him as the love interest of a story.
This story features two boys but the love triangle is bearable and not frustrating. I was very impressed by the fact that both boys start off as friends and there isn’t any insta-love despite Summer nattering on about how she wanted to find love.
Overall, it’s an unconventional YA read but if you’re looking for something a bit different, you should check it out.