The Dark Divine (Dark Divine, Book 1)
by Bree Despain
Release Date: December 28, 2009
2010 Edgmont Books
Softcover Edition; 400 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
4 / 5 Stars
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 his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.
The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.
The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy'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.
The Dark Divine was an interesting blend of religious belief and mythological folklore that worked very well to create a story of parallel worlds, where in one world you have a 'good girl' and the other you have the supposed 'bad boy' persona. Although I found the novel at times preachy and dogmatic, I also found that it worked very well in the story as this is the world in which Grace grew up and these are the beliefs that Grace has known since she was a small child; beliefs that she once thought were unshakeable were now being torn down around her, belief in the foundation of her family, belief in her older brother Jude, belief in the fundamentals she always held dear. I found this to be absolutely fascinating as I read through this novel.
Grace was an interesting character and I liked her enormously as I learned more about her. Although I did find her to be somewhat narrow-minded and naive toward the beginning of the novel, I grew to like her more and more as she matured and developed throughout the events that happened around her, and as she questioned what she always thought was a normal family and normal life. The scene in which she finds her mother supercleaning the house in order to avoid talking about the fight between her and her father is particularly eye-opening for Grace as she wonders whether she and family had ever really discussed anything of great importance or if they always just avoided talking about important issues. I like how she becomes a little bit more rebellious and does things she shouldn't, not bad things, but things that are fun and interesting. Too much emphasis has always been placed on her and her brothers and sisters to maintain a role in the community whereby they are role models for others; it's a warning not to do anything that would tarnish the family image. I would think that kind of pressure would become trying after a while.
Daniel is someone I just adored, and the more I learned about him, the more I adored him. Maybe I just have a thing for the supposed 'bad boy' image, but he was definitely not a bad boy in this novel. I identified with his character completely and understood him, while I did not understand Jude and did not identify or sympathize with Jude at all. Daniel was someone who tried really hard to improve himself and it showed in everything he did.
I also really like how the parents were included in this novel and had an important role. Too often, the parents are relegated to a secondary role and I don't feel this is realistic. Grace's parents definitely played more than a secondary role, and April's parents wouldn't let her go to the dance if she couldn't go with another couple as they were afraid for her safety. Grace even got in trouble from her parents for a couple of things she did and had to face the consequences of her actions, and I like how this is included in this novel.
The novel did feel somewhat predicatable however, and I felt like I was reading something that had already happened before. Because I enjoyed the characters and their interactions so much, this wasn't as important as it could have been, but for me, I didn't find it suspenseful with the many twists and turns that I have found in other novels. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the novel tremendously, because I did. I don't think I would have liked it as much if it wasn't for the Grace and Daniel dynamic that was intertwined within the plot, or even the family dynamics that I enjoyed quite a bit.
The Dark Divine was an interesting, fascinating read on family dynamics and the relationship between religion and mythology. I did find the plot to be somewhat predictable and lacking in suspense, but the interactions between the characters kept it from sliding into a moderate plotline, and therefore I enjoyed it tremendously. I am definitely looking forward to book 2 of the trilogy, The Lost Saint.