Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

I'm ashamed to say that I've had The Dark Divine by Bree Despain for almost a year!  It wasn't until I realized that book two was coming out, and the fact that some of my students chose to read this for literature circles in my Popular Fiction class (and loved it), that I decided I had to get to it.  Originally, the boys in my Pop. Fiction class were leery of the "girlie" cover, but soon were sucked into the story and told all of the guys in the class that it was a good read for anyone.  I really wanted to see what they were talking about and just jumped in!

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.  Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.  As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul."

Review:  The Dark Divine originally felt familiar, like something I had read before.  In a lot of ways, this did seem like a common paranormal teen read, but the complication in the story between Grace, Daniel, and Grace's brother Jude builds and builds and builds in such a way that you have to keep reading.  Why did Daniel disappear in the first place?  Why does Jude hate him so much?  How does he happen to appear to help Grace when she needs help?   Readers somehow get that Daniel is the bad boy that Grace should avoid, but we also see that there is a lot we don't know.  Daniel is definitely mysterious, but has this vulnerability to him that pushes the reader to find out why.  

There is a definite paranormal twist to the novel, and a big, bad monster on the loose that has you looking at many of the characters in the novel with a skeptical eye.  Thankfully, each plot point moves closer and closer to the conclusion, which is quite a page turner.  In fact, the climax of the story felt like an action movie that I could see inside my head with drama, romance, and a fight sequence that had me nervous.  Honestly, the story was well thought out, engaging, and actually felt new, regardless of the number of paranormal teen reads out right now.

One of the best recommendations I think I can give for the novel would actually have to be from my own students.  Some of the boys were reluctant to read what they perceived might be a "girlie" book, based on the cover; however, they quickly came back saying how much they liked it.  The action in the story wasn't erased by any over-sentimentality and romance on the part of the female protagonist, and so they liked it.  I can see why.  The Dark Divine is mysterious, emotional, and has me wanting to read the next book in the series so I can hurry and catch up with these characters!  For me, this was one of the better young adult novels I've read this past year. 

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a personal copy of the novel.


  1. I've seen this book around, but maybe I was channeling my inner teenage boy because the cover really turned me off, too. It's beautiful, but do I need another Twilight rip-off? No.

    However, not that I've read your review, I will think about maybe giving it a try. :)

  2. I think by now it must be hard for a good paranormal YA book to break through the many many titles that are already on the shelves and have given people a certain image of what to expect. I admit I felt a little like heidenkind, but now I think I'd like to try this.

  3. Wow, interesting. Just goes to show how important the cover can be -- and how dangerous (in terms of turning off an entire segment of readers!) it can be to pigeon-hole a book with the wrong cover.

    I've always kind of liked the covers, but they're definitely a riff on the Twilight-style. Which while it might win many fans, I expect it turns off just as many.

  4. Heidenkind--It is a little bit along the Twilight line. The action was pretty good though, which I'm not usually into, but my students two thumbs up for it really pushed me into reading it.

    Irisonbooks--I'd be interested to see what you think! As I mentioned, I think I liked it because my students were so enthused about it.

    Kiirstin--Those covers really can be pretty important! The Twilight connection came up with my students, but they liked the twist. It is pretty interesting.

  5. I've been meaning to read something by this author for a while now. To me, the recs from your students mean a lot. I might have to give this one a try!