Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Reviewing *The Dark Divine* by Bree Despain
I am going to have a hard time reviewing this book because I absolutely don't want to give out any spoilers. Here, briefly, is how I started reading The Dark Divine:
"ohmigod, look at her toenail polish! I LOVE this cover!"
Obviously I was interested in the content as well. The back cover only gives out a bit of what you're cracking open. Grace Divine, daughter of a Pastor, has strange memories of three years ago when her brother Jude was attacked and their best friend Danile disappeared. When Daniel suddenly shows up in her Art class one day, looking completely changed, she begins to seek out answers. There is also a schism between Daniel and her brother, Jude. So Grace finds herself trapped between the two while trying to find out the truth.
The premise was mysterious enough for me. I was very eager to find out what this was all about. And I had two certain ideas in my mind as I was reading, which both, in their own way, turned out to be the case. I really liked where the story went. Again, sorry to be vague but most of my excitement while I was reading was really not knowing what I would find.
The chapters are broken up with scene changes. So wherever the action is now taking place has a heading; "After Lunch", "Dinner", "Memories", even "A Few Minutes Later". This really worked for me. It gave the action immediacy, an instant context. The author sometimes plays around with this structure and makes it funny. Another funny instance is Grace's description of her art class: "This is art class. We paint pictures while listening to classic rock." I totally had an art class like this in highschool and I loved it. Although the highschool is not the main setting for the story. I felt like we were at Grace's house, and in her yard with the Oak tree most often.
When I started reading, I didn't exactly know where the story was going to go. Grace is entering her art class and this jerk guy is in her spot AND he's messing with her picture of the Oak tree. He's cocky and angsty with Grace, teasing her for being the daughter of a Pastor. Then she realizes that he's Daniel, her best friend who disappeared when they were younger. He was closer to Jude, her brother, but Daniel stayed with their family when he was young and Grace always had a crush on him. Not knowing that he knew her, I was like "who IS this guy? Grace please punch him". When she realizes it's Dan, she wants to know what happened to him and to Jude, five years ago. Jude is tight-lipped and resentful, he storms out when Grace invites Daniel for dinner. Daniel is reluctant when it comes to information, but eventually outs everything. Grace also realizes that her father knows a lot more than she can guess.
You really have to read more than half of the book to get a sense of what's really going on here. I loved how slowly the Reveal happened.
I was a little put off by the character name Grace Divine, daughter of a Pastor? It seemed a little obvious. But in the story Grace informs us that along the way her ancestor's last name used to be Divinovich. But it was changed to reflect the family's religious connection. Other characters' names play a symbolic role as well, for those of you who want to try and figure out what will happen before the end.
The Dark Divine gets a bit sexy along the way too. Daniel plays this cocky character--well actually he was darker than that. He's more sarcastic than cocky. But he's kind of controlling as well. He tells Grace what to do all the time. Or what not to do. And he holds information from her. Then he's a jerk and takes off on her all the time. Anyway, here's a juicy bit:
Daniel leaned toward me until his warm breath lingered on my face again. "You know, some religious scholars believe that when faced with overwhelming temptation"--he reached out and brushed a tangled strand of hair off my neck--"you should commit a small sin, just to relieve the pressure a bit."
In the shadows, his eyes seemed darker than usual, and his stare didn't just make him look hungry--he was starving. His lips were almost close enough to taste.
"That's stupid. And...and...I don't need any pressure relieved." I shoved him away and stepped out of the alcove. "I'm going home."
Their push and pull was fun to read, but I really enjoyed finding out the mystery of what happened in their lives.
And here's a bit of Bree's initial inspiration for the book:
People often ask me where I got the inspiration to write The Dark Divine. Honestly, it's a hard question to answer because it didn't just come from one place, or a dream, or a single idea. It was more like a perfect storm of ideas, thoughts, and memories, over a few weeks time. It all came together while I was riding in the car on a dark January night in 2005. It was shortly after I'd read the book Speak, watched the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time, listened to the song Such Great Heights over and over again, and was asked to teach a lesson about the concept of grace at my church. I was thinking about all of these things, along with a random memory from the 9th grade, when we stopped at red light and I looked up at billboard in the dark and suddenly this conversation between a brother and a sister popped into my head. The brother was warning his sister to stay away from their former best friend. "He's dangerous. He isn't the person he used to be. You have to promise to stay away from him." And that was when it all started. . . (from Bree's blog)
Okay, it's crazy but at the time I had this quiet passing thought that the art class scenarios and the art teacher reminded me of Speak! Man, I should have written that before so you would believe me. :)
The Dark Divine is coming out in like a week! Pick it up for a holiday read. You'll finish it in a snap.