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Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Title: The Dark Divine
Author(s): Bree Despain
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 384
Publisher: EgmontUSA

The Summary: A prodigal son

A dangerous love

A deadly secret . . .

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

--Summary from author's website

The Review: I inhaled this in half a day, egged on by the fact that I had limited time to read this before ninefly left, taking her books with her. I'm glad I felt the pressure in finishing off this book, because this novel, as much as I love it, has some serious pacing issues, going too slow in some parts and too fast at other points, so I may have been tempted to slow down or even stop my reading before I got to the good parts.

What I was most amused by in this novel was how... very South Korean melodrama it was. Seriously, it was following the Kdrama formula to the letter, to the point where I was like, "hmm, if this were a kdrama I could basically see the general direction of the story omg it actually happened!!" I mean, we even got the adopted brother who's in love with the sister thing that Kdrama is so fond of, and disapproving in-laws! All we were missing (besides, ya know, starring any hot Korean celebrities), was some amnesia -preferably via car accidents- complications (though the missing or skewed memories thing came close) and a major character with terminal illness (interestingly enough, a minor character was very ill. Close, but no cigar) It almost made me wonder if our author here watches Kdramas but the likelihood of it is so minor that I'll just chalk it up to awesome, happy coincidence. This makes a possibly upcoming Chromatic Casting on this novel too easy. There was something terribly amusing about watching a very familiar storyline that I'm used to seeing on tv unfold in written narrative instead, especially from such an unexpected place.

The christianity allusions were basic enough and elaborated further in the novel for me to follow as a non-Christian, and I personally thought this aspect was handled nicely without banging our heads at the concept over and over. (Um, feel free to give me a different perspective on this. =D) I've seen some complaints about the reveal of the paranormal in the novel to be too sudden, but I dunno, I thought Despain did a fairly even job of dropping noticeable hints all around in the beginning. I do kind of see how we can criticize the accelerated paranormal reveals for being too fast as it is a sudden change of pace from the the first half, but as the second half of this novel with all its paranormal reveals was my favourite aspect of the novel, you aren't going to find me complaining about it here. =D I'd rather make the argument for sooner reveals! and more childhood flashbacks! instead. The story could have definitely been told in less amount of pages and be better off for it.

I love the characters and the romance not so much because they were strong on their own but more because of the fact that the type they represent just hits all my buttons. I'm a big, big sucker for childhood crush that gets separated and meet again in the future (I love kdramas for a reason, y'all). The characters by themselves were pretty much meh for me (I will admit, I was already making fun of the cast name from the first few pages alone. Grace Divine, really?), but slot them into this type of romance and toss in a few awesome paranormal reveals and you'll find me cheering for our characters with the rest of the fans. One thing I did like about it outside of the whole kdrama thing and the paranormal reveals was the whole skewed/missing memory thing Despain played with in the second half. Don't want to spoil it, but the reinterpretations of events past and present and skewed persepectives was a nice touch. The writing too was very nice. For instance:

It used to be a treasure box where Jude, Daniel, and I kept our special things like pogs, and baseball cards, and that strange long tooth we found in the woods behind the house. But now it was a small metal coffin -- a box that held memories I wish would die.

Simple imagery, but very effective, y/y?

Now, for some complaints beyond the pacing, lol. I wish that this novel showed us more of April, Grace's supposedly best friend. It's like, once April got hooked with a boy she completely disappeared from Grace's life. The book says they're friends but I rarely see them doing, you know, basic best friend things like sharing secrets or going to one another when they have problems. The only interactions I remember were just them oogling boys as potential boyfriends. So yeah, this book? Doesn't even come close to passing the bedchel test. It'd be nice to have more of these YA romance books wherein the girls don't ditch each other once they find the Love Of Their Lives. Also, this is one of those books with a "raceless" white default (as it, there's no explicit racial markers but everyone is described as pale, etc etc) but I really didn't expect anything less coming into this novel as YA paranormal romance set in some small white town with new kid in the block who may or may not have powers rarely bother trying to include diversity within the story narrative. Didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of this novel though, for what it's worth.

The Verdict: All in all, a very pleasant read of a good, if a bit flawed, debut book, and I can't wait for the sequel! Daniel/Grace is TRUE LOVE, TRUEEEEEE I SAY! ♥ I for one, am hoping for a more prominent role for April and more interactions that are totally unrelated to boys in general. (Er, hopefully I'm not hoping too much here, lol) And preferably better characterization and pacing next time. And, maybe a new book on just Jude's perspective? *coughs* Basically, what I'm saying is, WHERE IS MY SEQUEL. *shot*

Rating: 3/5
Enjoyment: 90% (loses some points for pacing issues)

Title and Cover Discussion: I do think the title is nice. I like the paradox between Dark and Divine and the alliteration. I um, just have to get over the whole Divine being the last name of a family of pastors, is all. *dies* But the cover just doesn't do it for me. It gives me a twilight-cover vibe, with the whole black background and the shiny bright object that doesn't correspond with the story at all. It'd be eye-grabbing if it weren't for the fact that there's already plenty of covers with this type of motif on the shelves. And it is another purple cover that seems to dominate the shelves this season without having anything interesting within the cover to make up for it. Also, er, her death-white (there's pale, and there's like, ash-white death looking pale) skinny legs kinda creep me out. Surely no legs can be that skinny unless you're anorexic? Instead of otherworldly imagery, the legs on the cover just look the legs of a sickly person who should be admitted to a hospital ASAP.

Title: B+
Cover: C


ninefly said...

I'm looking forward to your chormatic casting, though I prob wouldn't know much of the korean cast lol
I personally like the cover as a work of art, even if it's rather non-conductive to healthy body images =T
aren't you glad I bring you such gems? ;D
(I've basically heard all your arguments as you were sorting them out, so I'm not ignoring your post or anything lol)

yuan said...


Yeah, that's the thing with these twilight-esque covers. They're pretty, but er, they're so off. Especially this one. Those legs just can't be healthy.
Yesssssss, so many books I must mooch off you rawr. (RAMPANT. GIMME!! *shot*)
(LAWL, I forgive you. Jks. As long as you forgive me for all my accidental spoilers, lol.)

Doret said...

LMAO at the legs comment.
They are on the skinny side

The Dark Divine does have a very nice ring to it. Though, I must agree the cover doesn't do it for me.

I don't see the Twilight influence but it doesn't move me to open it up and read the first page.

Jessica Love said...

This was such a great review.

1. This book would have been just that much better with some hot Koreans. I'm cracking up at your k-drama comparison. SO TRUE.

2. I agree about the friend. I didn't buy their friendship at all.

3. I didn't think the reveal was too sudden...I thought it took too dang long! I figured out what he was hiding on, like, page 3, and he didn't spit it out until two hundred more pages.

4. Those legs creep me out. A hot Korean chick would have hotter legs. ;-)

April (BooksandWine) said...

I definitely gave this book the same rating on goodreads. It was alright, but definitely not the greatest paranormal book I've ever read. And yeah, as a non-Christian (agonostic) I felt the Christianity was a bit much, and yeah I totally snorted over the name.

Although I did like that I share the name with the friend, that hardly ever happens. Most books I read the character has some weird name (fantasy) or something like Megan or Jessica or some variation of Elizabeth.

Stormi said...


I am dropping by from The Saturday Network. I have read this book and I gave it a three rating just like yourself. I felt that it just could have been better.

Nice blog you have here!