Title: The Dark Divine
Author: Bree Despain
Series: The Dark Divine #1
Genre: Paranormal (YA)
Pages: 372 (Hardcover)
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.
I had a very love/hate relationship with this book. I kept switching back and forth, first deciding that I totally hated it, but then something cute redeemed it, only to have me hating it again a few pages later when a character got annoying...It was seriously messing with my feelings and then finally I just told myself to read without thinking about flaws or where the plot was heading because obviously that whole thinking thing was tripping me up. After I stopped over-analyzing, I was able to get into the world that Despain created and was even able to leave the book with a relatively pleasant impression.
Let's start with the things that I really liked. I thought that Daniel was a really cool/cute/interesting character and love interest. I like that Grace and he had a relationship in the past, and that they used to play cute little games together when they were kids. The whole " Kiss me and I'll give it back" thing was absolutely adorable. I literally found myself coo'ing...and believe me that doesn't happen often...except at babies...or kitties...or baby kitties. But yeah, their relationship, particularly on Daniel's side (i.e. Daniel's responses and actions towards Grace) was pretty fun to read about.There were several really sweet moments that made you long for your childhood/highschool/whatever sweetheart. There is just something about being with a guy who has seen you through your awkward phases, who knows when and how you've gotten every scar, and explored and learned about the world with you...*sighs* *also thinks about the hot boy next door who I have had a crush on since I was 6* lol
I was on the fence with what I felt about Grace's upbringing and the extreme amount of Christianity in the book. I really struggled with religion as I was growing up. I went to a Catholic elementary/middle school which, rather than leading me to a christian way of life, drove me away from anything religious for years. I am much more willing to read about it now, but I still get a little uncomfortable when things get too preachy or faithy. It's not just Christian stuff either, I do the same with Jewish type novels, but there are many more christian themed books out there, so I guess I just get sick of them more. Anyways, The religion in the Dark Divine is extremely present, but isn't preachy. I know that religion defines Grace and her family, so it made sense in the context of the book. It was interesting to see Grace break down her barriers and test her beliefs as she grows and learns throughout the novel.
Unfortunately, there were some major plot flaws and character irritations that I really hated. Grace was really wishy washy and believed exactly what whoever happened to be talking at the time said, but then as soon as they left she doubted the conversation so much that it was kind of jarring. Initially, that was more of a character irritation, but then when Grace starts taking things for granted without proof or evidence, I found myself not believing in the story or in the choices she was making.I also was upset by Jude. I understand that he's traumatized by whatever happened to him to put a rift between him and Daniel, but I found him really manipulative with Grace and his family, which was at complete odds to his description as this immensely good guy. He is depicted as this almost saint-like kid, but everything from his treatment of Grace to his anger problems, to his total complete hatred of Daniel kind of opposes that idea. It just really bugs me whenthe actions of certain characters are so contrary to the description that the author paints...show me, don't tell me who a character is. The plot itself was rather predictable, I definitely had most of the book mapped out before it happened and kind of knew what was going on like...4 or 5 steps ahead of Grace, which made her feel a little naive and ridiculous in my eyes. I was intrigued by a few things though.
The paranormal element was pretty interesting and unique. The fact that there is an actual additional heart within a werewolf and that you can kill just the were by puncturing ONLY the wolf heart was definitely original. Of course, the animal lover and paranormal sympathiser in me was offended that the wolf was automatically assumed to be evil and they kept trying to kill it. Also it was a little odd for what would happen to the weres that were turned, not born...did they just...grow another heart? That could have been a little more refined. And the weird metaphysics involved made it a little far-fetched even for a paranormal...Only in an act of selfless love can the person be safely separated from the monster within and be saved....okayyyy....well...that can be relative. I personally believe that it is a selfless act of love to let the boyfriend eat the last piece of pizza so...where does that leave me on my potential for werewolf saving??? Regardless, it was a unique take on the werewolf legend and I liked how it intermingled with Christianity. You usually find christian themes involved in books with Vampires and Witches...but rarely can you find one that has a Werewolf mythology mixed with Christianity. Cool Beans!