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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Is it the Painkillers Talking or Is The Dark Divine Really That Forgettable?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone knows that preachers' families are perfect - home cooked dinners around the table every night, love and harmony permeating the very air, and absolutely no skeletons hidden in the closets (those are filled with crocheted booties for the congregation's newborns and afghans for the shut-ins). The Divine Family fits the cliche pretty well. Except that Grace, a high school junior, knows that beneath her family's shiny facade lies a murky little secret. It has to do with Daniel Kalbi, a troubled teen who once found solace at the Divine home. It has to do with the night Daniel vanished, the night Grace's brother came home dripping blood.

When The Dark Divine by Bree Despain opens, Grace is shocked to find that Daniel's returned to their small Minnesota town. What he wants exactly, she's not sure, but Daniel has a habit of appearing wherever she goes. He's obviously still hurting. Is it wrong that Grace wants to help him work through his pain? They were once as close as siblings. Grace's father has always preached forgiveness, so why won't her family embrace Daniel as they once did? What do they know about him that she doesn't? What happened the night he disappeared? The closer Grace gets to the truth of the matter, the more she realizes that nothing is ever as it seems. Even within a preacher's family.

I was excited to read this book for several reasons: (1) It's generated a lot of buzz in the book blogosphere; (2) I always get excited when a young (ish - roughly around my age) LDS author publishes for a mainstream audience; and (3) Bree Despain is one of the infamous "6" that the hilarious Brodi Ashton can't quit talking about. So, naturally, I had to give it a whirl. What did I think? Honestly, I wanted to be a lot more impressed than I was. The Dark Divine is not a bad book, it's just not unique enough to stand above the crowd in a market saturated with this exact kind of story. It could have used some depth, some development, and a whole lotta originality. That being said, I did read the book in one day (sucking in a couple of chapters whenever I surfaced from my Vicodin-induced coma), so it was engrossing enough to keep me turning pages. However, I had a hard time recalling much about the story when I sat down to write this review which means one of two things - either my mind's still fuzzy from pain meds or the book just wasn't that memorable. Unfortunately, I think it's the latter.

Now, don't think I'm giving up on Despain (I have dumped the Vicodin, however - I just can't stand the mind cloud) - I'll definitely be checking out The Dark Divine's sequel. I'm just hoping for a little originality, a few surprises, something to make this series different than all the other YA paranormal stories out there. C'mon, she's LDS, a BYU alum and a member of the illustrious "6" - I think it's fair to expect great things out of this girl.

(Readalikes: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater [my review])

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some language and violence

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Back-to-School is the brainchild of Julie P. over at Booking Mama. I'll be using this button whenever I publish a review of a book by an author who went to my alma mater, BYU. Go Cougs!


  1. I've been hearing similar things from some people. I haven't read this yet, though I do want to at some point. Sorry it wasn't as great as you'd hoped!


  2. It sounds like an interesting premise -- this is a book some people have raved about and others ... not so much. I am glad you were able to get off the Vicodin. I've always hated the side effects of narcotics -- as you said, it's too much mind fog.

  3. Oh man, do I really talk about the Six that much? I need to branch out. Get some new interests! :)

    Maybe I'll take up boondoggle or something. I've enjoyed reading up on your blog!

  4. I've got a copy of this book here at home. Planning to read it at some point. Thanks for your thoughts. You are right that the YA market is kind of saturated right now with books of this type.

    Take care and I do undertand about the meds. I just can't manage too well with the heavy stuff.

  5. Fantastic and insightful review. Thank you so much for sharing and helping to spread the word about the Back-to-School Feature! You should have a fabulous choice of authors to feature!

  6. I was in the same room with Bree Despain and Brodi Ashton the other night at the Utah Book Bloggers Winter Social but unfortunately didn't get to meet them. Hopefully next time. I'm sorry you didn't really like the book more but I'm going to give it a try anyway. Definitely have to support our fellow Cougars.


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