Monday, June 21, 2010


The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
# of pages: 371 (ARC)
Publisher: Egmont
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: 13/14+
The Dark Divine @ Parental Book Reviews

My Thoughts:
Simply put, this book exceeded all my expectations.
YA is fun, but let's be honest: can be a little repetitive: you feel like you're reading slightly altered versions of the same story over and over. Ordinary girl meets dark, paranormal bad-boy and "complications" ensue. What kinds of complications? Well, usually the same ones.
In all honesty, The Dark Divine's formula is similar to other popular YA books out there, but there are so many aspects of the story that are very original. For example, authors have been using folk tales/fairytales, myths, and even other classic books as their inspiration for awhile, but this is the first one that I've read that is based off a parable. And Bree Despain's take on werewolves - which I'm sure we're all familiar with - is so INCREDIBLY original and actually makes sense! I remember thinking, "yeah, definitely! Why not?" Bravo, Mrs. Despain!

I don't mind sharing that I connected with this book on a personal level, too. I'm the granddaughter and niece of pastors, and I thought having a pastor's daughter for a main character was exceptionally refreshing. I connected with the Divine family and especially liked the idea of useful, responsible parent-figures. I think we can all agree that parent figures in YA are frequently absent, so it was nice to have helpful parent characters. Now, I do think that sometimes the Divine family was portrayed a little too...stereotypically... Grace and Jude are great characters, and I DO know boys like Jude, so no, I don't believe that he's "unrealistic" at all - but sometimes they both acted a little too contrived (my cousins are children of a pastor, and they do NOT spend their free time at food pantries, nor do they discuss clothing drives. Maybe they *should*, but...)But that one little mention is the only thing that I can think of to say about this book: aside from the Divine family's kind-of blatant portrayal, all the characters were very real, very well-rounded, and easy to relate to. For me, it's always a plus to have grounded, practical characters with values and a good head on their shoulders. Now Grace isn't perfect, and there is one point in the story in which she is swayed by popular opinion rather than rationality, but hey, no one is rational all the time. Jude is a really interesting character, too. At the beginning, he was a little too Richie Cunningham for me, but as the story progressed, he really turned interesting. As the Prodigal Son scenario played out, both he and Daniel became incredibly fun to explore.

Daniel and Grace's relationship was fun to read. It wasn't rushed, but it didn't beat around the bush; it wasn't abusive, it wasn't superficial, it wasn't inappropriate. Rather, I found Grace's devotion to Daniel and her (ultimate) willingness to help him (despite one brief stint of doubt and assumptions) very touching.

Even though this book really doesn't have a designated villain, the plot remained strong and interesting throughout, and the story was evenly paced and for me, never dragged. The Dark Divine was a fast read, but that's mainly because I was so engrossed, I could not put it down!

I really can't praise this book enough. Yes, there are religious elements in this story, and at times, it read like a Christian Fiction novel, (I don't read much of that particular genre, but I will admit that portions of the book read that way) but take it from me, this book is not one to miss. It's not CF, it's not designed to be CF, so please, PLEASE don't let that possibly dissuade you from giving this a try. If there's ever a YA book that I would recommend - besides Eyes Like Stars and Wildwood Dancing - it's The Dark Divine.


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