Dead Until Dark has always sounded sort of like a bridge between the less-modern classics of Anne Rice and the super-modern classics of Twilight. Less class than the former, but still more than the latter - you know what I mean?
And though I've not yet read any Anne Rice (it's on my list), I can definitely say that it did have a bit more - not much, but more - than Twilight. For one thing, it's set in Louisiana! The south! My homeland! Sort of. Not really, but close enough for the setting to feel real familiar.
Though this only ended up with three stars on my Goodreads account, I can say that it was a high 3. Maybe somewhere like a 3.5? Mostly because of sheer comparative value. Sookie is, compared with 99% of the paranormal heroines I've read about, is an incredible person. Almost every situation that your average contemporary YA heroine is faced with is in this book, and Sookie pretty much turns every cliché response on its head and actually is... really, really intelligent, most of the way through. At least in comparison to most vampire lovers. AND THERE IS AN ACTUAL PLOT WITH ACTUAL CONFLICT. I almost cried when I realized that what we had here was an honest-to-gosh problem and real live issues instead of some cockamamie fabricated bullcrap. It was beautiful.
Does all this have something to do with the fact that this is adult fiction written about a decade ago and not current YA? Probably. Does this mean that the reason I really appreciate this book is probably not quite valid? Almost certainly. Does it make me like Sookie Stackhouse any less, or make me want to read the next books any less? Frick no. I'm on the Sookie bandwagon at this point. Bring on the rational decision-making and the Honest-to-Gosh Conflict.
Note: Dead Until Dark is an adult book and I would not recommend it to any younger readers who would be sensitive to adult content/a bit of adult language.
For the February Book, I managed to snag A Darker Shade of Magic, and it is absolutely one of the best decisions I've made this year in regards to reading.
A Darker Shade of Magic splits the difference perfectly between old and new, unique and timeless. There are original systems of magic, and there's the plucky streetwise girl-thief who wants to become a pirate. (She is, however, a wonderful character, not at all like her description makes her out to be, and I liked her almost as much as the male MC.) There are also some pretty despicable but interesting villains, as well as relationships that are frankly beautiful and I hope dearly that they get some fleshing out in the continuing books.
One of the greatest things about A Darker Shade of Magic is the fabulous pacing. Schwab can write very well but she also structures this book intelligently: it's broken up into almost 20 different "parts," with relatively short chapters between them. Like I said in my Goodreads review, it's like Max Ride with quality - it's a normal-sized book for adult fic, but the short chapters and parts make the story whizz by, especially aided by the fantastic pacing outside the technical structure.
Note: This is also an adult book and while there are not as many adult situations there is still a bit of adult language. Not that much, though. Three or four instances.