Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review - The Dark Divine (DNF)

The Dark Divine (The Dark Divine #1)
by Bree Despain
Date: 2009
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 372
Format: e-book
Source: bought from Amazon

The unsubtly named Grace Divine, an anorexic (if the cover is anything to go by) pastor's daughter, bumbles cluelessly about, disobeying her overly protective parents and older brother by befriending her former next-door neighbour, Daniel.

Daniel, for his part, is keeping secrets... but not very well. From the moment he steps onto the page, it's all the reader can do not to shout at the heroine and her complete cluelessness about Daniel's condition. Can Grace start being a little more observant in time to convince the reader that she's not completely oblivious to everything going on around her?

I just couldn't get into this one.  And for $2.39, I'm not going to stress about finishing it.  I didn't get very far (only 20%... the stupid Kindle format doesn't give you page numbers), but even that far was enough to convince me that I didn't need to read any more.  Grace suffers from SNS in the worst way.  I couldn't believe how clueless she was!  Going into this book, I knew we'd be dealing with paranormal creatures of some sort, but I wasn't exactly sure which ones.  But it soon became glaringly obvious that we were dealing with werewolves.  Well, glaringly obvious to everyone except Grace.  For crying out loud...  The first time we saw the weird dog, I knew.  Then there were the scratches on the walls in Daniel's apartment, as if "someone had been keeping a large dog" in the room.  And then there was the time when Grace was recounting an episode of abuse in Daniel's family, and she heard someone get hit and then "a whimpering, doglike cry".  Grace may be stupid, but please... give the reader a little more credit.  The hints don't need to be that obvious.

Is it too much to ask, in this day and age of YA books, for a heroine who isn't completely in the dark?  It's as if all of these heroines exist in some parallel universe where YA paranormal fiction doesn't even exist.  Because if Grace had read as many of these books as real teenagers do, she wouldn't have been so frustratingly clueless.

The final straw for me, though, was the casual use of a clinomorphism for OCD.  For someone like me, who truly suffers from the condition, I found it completely offensive.  Very few things anger me more than someone who casually throws out the term without stopping to consider what it really means.  For someone who actually has the disorder (because that's what the third letter in the acronym stands for), seeing the word so casually thrown about is akin to a character calling someone a "retard" and not getting called on it.  Now you know.  Please stop using "OCD" as a synonym for tidiness or being anal about having your socks in a row.  It's not the same thing.

Based on what I did read, here are my ratings.  The writing itself wasn't the worst I've seen, but it wasn't a literary masterpiece, either.  Maybe the pace and the characters got better... but I don't care at this point.  For me, it was completely unoriginal and the foreshadowing was too heavy-handed for the story to be enjoyable.

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 1/5
Writing: 3/5
Originality: 0/5

Overall: 1.2 out of 5


  1. I can NOT handle another character with thanks for the warning. This reminds me of Luce from Fallen...ugh. And I have OCD too, so I would probably be really angry about the sterotypes included in the book. Thanks for the review :)

  2. That really bugs me too, when the main character has no clue what's going on the whole book.

    Thanks for the review, good to know you didn't like it so much. I don't think I'll be reading this one.

  3. I understand where you are coming from here but I just don't agree with your first point. I respect it but I don't agree and here's why-- you said it yourself, you read that this was a paranormal novel so you were LOOKING for the paranormal.

    The thing is, in this novel Grace is a real girl in the real world where werewolves and vampires are fiction. If I walked outside my door tomorrow and saw a dog sitting across the street and then ran into an old crush that same day I wouldn't think "I saw that dog... zomgosh, my old flame MUST be a werewolf" because well, werewolves don't exist in real life. It's the same for a lot of these characters. We, as readers, know that something is happening but the characters are in their everyday lives and don't expect it. So in this way I feel it's unfair to call Grace stupid. I'd feel she was far more dumb if she saw a big dog outside and saw his room and thought "yup, that's what I thought, he's a werewolf".

    I'll admit that sometimes I get annoyed when characters are too dismissive of things and there are plenty of those but I just don't personally think it's accurate to call Grace a stupid narrator for the reasons you did. Again, I respect your opinion (and hope you don't take offense) but I just wanted to point this out so you might see it in a different way.

    Sorry you didn't like this one and I hope you find something more your style.

  4. Thanks for your comments, ajmitchell.

    It wasn't just that she didn't get it right away. It was that she didn't get it after numerous hints that kept slapping the reader in the face. Plus, when the story is told from the first person POV, and Grace keeps mentioning all these things as if they're relevant (animal scratches on the door, the Markham Street Monster, the animals and people getting chewed up by something, the description of Daniel's cry as "doglike"), I'm going to assume that she knows something weird is going on. The fact that she's written as clueless just does not make sense to me. How much evidence does the girl need?

  5. haha thats quite a funny review. The market is saturated with these types of books at the moment so one to avoid maybe!