Review + Excerpt: Dark Companion By Marta Acosta

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Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.
They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there…
Overall Thoughts:
I really wanted to love this book and it had it's moments where I did, but I couldn't connect with it as much as I wanted.

Dark Companion is about a teenage girl named Jane Williams who grew up in a town called Helmsdale, also known as "Hellsdale" because it was a pretty poor and rough place. It was the kind of neighborhood that was used to drugs, prostitution, and other bad things. The story begins with Jane being absolutely miserable in her foster home due to her evil and verbally abusive foster mom, and we learn that Jane is a hardworker in school and makes extremely amazing grades. One day, she is chosen to be granted a full scholarship with free room and board at a school named Birch Grove Academy for Girls, which of course Jane jumps at.

Once she arrives at Birch Grove Academy, she instantly notices the obvious differences between herself and the other spoiled, rich Birch Grove girls. She then meets Mrs. Radcliffe who is the head mistress of the school and the teacher of a class called Night Terrors. Jane learns that there was once a girl named Breneeta "Bebe" Browning, who was also from Helmsdale and disappeared to supposedly run off with a long lost uncle. Also, she learns about a lady named Claire Mason, who was from Helmsdale and was married to Jane's chemistry teacher, Mr. Mason, until she supposedly committed suicide. Like anyone, Jane begins to question why the two people who she has the most in common with, up and disappears.

As time progresses, she becomes closer and closer to both of Mrs. Radcliffe's sons, Lucien "Lucky" and Jacob "Jack", who are complete opposites. Lucky is blonde, popular, cocky, extremely beautiful, and pretty selfish. Jack on the other hand is adopted, dark-haired, laid-back, funny, and eccentric. Jane finds herself attracted to Lucky and it seems that every person around her wants them to become closer for some unknown reason, but she totally connects with Jack alot more than she ever does with Lucky. Soon enough, Jane learns that the Radcliffe's are not who they appear to be and that Jack is alot more protective of her than she is aware of, especially when Janes finds herself being watched...

What I liked about this book:
Jack was my favorite character out of them all. He was really refreshing because he was the only one who didn't seem to have some kind of hidden agenda. I was so obsessed with him that I found myself searching for parts on the pages where his name appeared (sad, I know).

The ending of the story was so climactic and exciting. It was the best part of the entire book and I wished that the rest of the book was like that as well.

What I disliked about this book:
To sum it all up, this book had a great concept and great characters but lacked flow and sequence. For example, someone would say something totally critical and important and "big reveal-like" but then Jane would go on as if that didn't happen. Like, what? Aren't you going to address what they just said? No? *Groans* Fine!

Also, I really disliked Jane and Lucky's relationship. Basically, Jane was slightly obsessed with Lucky and obsessed with pleasing him even if it meant that he could disrespect her. Every time she didn't do something "correctly" and Lucky would scold her, she would just try harder to earn it. I just wanted to scream at her, "Jane, open your eyes. He doesn't want you, he wants someone else. Look at Jack! He likes you, protects you, makes you laugh! What is wrong with you?"

This book had great moments that were super thrilling and exciting with energetic and colorful characters, but lacked details and flow which made it slightly hard to connect with it.

3 1/2 TARGETS!


When people met me, they saw an unassuming, hardworking, well-spoken girl. But inside I was still shrieking with rage for everything that I'd had to do merely to have the crumbs that others carelessly dropped.

I pressed down my fury until it metamorphosed, as soft messy carbonate does, into a diamond - a diamond so hard it could cut through steel and with such clarity that I could use it as a lens to see the world as it truly was, cruel and capricious.

It was rage that got me to Birch Grove Academy for Girls and out of Hellsdale. I nestled into my bed, knowing that rage would help me survive here too.

Carmen Shaw


Carmen N. Shaw is currently a biology major at Georgia State University. She is the owner and developer of the book blog, Understanding Carmen's Story.


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