Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Bree Despain's website here.

Publisher: EgmontUSA (December 22, 2009)
Hardcover: 372 pages
Summary: from {goodreads}
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.


My Thoughts: (I don't know where to start with this one. I think I’m having a review block, gah.)

The Dark Divine is exactly what it says it is: dark and divine. It had all the aspects that mark a captivating paranormal read: the bad boy, the dark secret, the biting action. Just when I thought I had something figured out – guess again. I literally could not put this book down and almost fell asleep with it in my hands.

Everyone thinks Grace Divine has it all: the hot brother, the perfect family, the image of purity. But no one knows what happened three years ago, when her brother’s best friend and her first crush disappeared – not even Grace. So it comes as a surprise when one day Daniel appears again, looking dangerous, different, and hungry. As Grace tries to assimilate Daniel back into the family and is met by a harsh reaction from Jude, her brother, she finds that they’ve been keeping some secrets of their own, ones that Grace needs to uncover and soon, before more innocent people are killed.

Grace has always lived under the expectations of her mother that she behave well, dress well, and set an example as the pastor’s daughter. So who can blame her when she sees Daniel offering mystery and intrigue and grasps the chance? I could definitely relate to Grace, and I’m sure that many other teenage girls can too. It’s that traditional dynamic of resenting parental control and disobeying – just because it’s different, exciting, and, most importantly, because you can. And the fact that a hot, occasionally half-naked guy is chasing after you probably makes your decisions that much easier. But it’s hard to shake off the weight of promises and upbringing all at once, and Grace constantly struggles between making what she deems the right, dutiful choice and the lure of temptation. Again, that only makes her more relatable because she’s not just some 2-D, once-sided character, but another girl that’s just struggling to get through life.

Grace is also stubborn, controlled, and commanding. She’s not afraid to sacrifice for others, and she does what she needs to, regardless of danger. Definitely a refreshing change from heroines who are either: 1) wait for their love to kiss them and make everything better and 2) too selfish to consider others. The ony possible complaint I have about her is that she says Daniel the one who's hot and cold, but I could probably make the same argument for Grace. Possibly my favorite thing about Grace is that she goes through a reasonable phase when she finds out what Daniel is (no spoilers, but it is a paranormal read). No major OMG freak-out, and Grace skips the denial to the scared, which is 100% reasonable. Did you hear that, Luce?! (For those of you who’ve read Fallen, which I’ll post my review of soon.)

An issue I was wondering about before reading was the numerous references to Christianity and the concept of grace versus damnation. Am I religious? No. Did that make the book any less awesome? No. I’m atheist, and I’m fairly certain that I have only graced the door of a church twice in my life. Despite that, I loved Bree Despain’s seamless blending of redemption into the story, and, actually, that’s what made The Dark Divine stand out from many other paranormal YA books released/being released at this time.

But The Dark Divine does share one very, very important feature: the bad boy. Can I please melt now at Daniel’s feet? He puts up a hard front, but I quickly fell in love with him. It was obvious that he deeply cared for Grace, and he might not be that prince in shining armor, but he was definitely the bad boy you know isn’t good for you but fall in love with anyways. Daniel’s always there to catch Grace when she falls – literally - and he’s constantly putting her and others before himself. And did I mention he’s scorching hot? On the other hand, there's Jude who's the exact opposite of Daniel. Angelic front, but there's that slowly growing dark flame within him. I wish I could have seen more of Jude, and I ended up not having a real standout opinion of him, just that he was okay.

Both of those boys are delicious and all, but what really got me was the ending – the classic wow, packed action ending. It was totally unexpected, though, looking back at what were seemingly unimportant events at the time, the ending made perfect sense. The twists and conflicts were shooting out so fast that I’d barely wrapped my head around one concept when another one would pop out. How many times I have to reread usually reflects how confusing the action was, and I admit I had to reread a small section just to make sure I got it right, but that was it. So while the action was definitely intense, it was still easy to follow and didn’t throw some obscure, mentioned-once character out there. The ending was wrapped up nicely though it left some gaping questions that I want answered NOW that will most likely be answered in the sequel. However, for those of you that have already read the book, I’m still not sure I like how Grace ended up in the end. Hm.

Romance: An emotional roller coaster. Hot but sweet. Daniel was extremely caring towards Grace, and there were definitely ups and downs in their relationship. All's well that ends well.
Cover: 5.0 - Can I say I love, love, love this cover?! The colors are even more vibrant and gorgeous in person.
Writing: 4.0 
Characters: 4.5
Plot: 5.0

Bottom Line: The Dark Divine was a gripping, dark debut by Bree Despain, and I would definitely recommend it to all fans of the paranormal. The plot was intricate, the romance was complicated, the characters were unique, and the action was intense. Bree Despain is definitely a great addition to the world of YA authors, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be picking up the sequel to The Dark Divine!