On the night that Daniel Kalbi, her brother’s best friend, disappeared from her life, Grace Divine knew something strange had happened. Her brother, who came home in his own blood, refuses to tell her what happened between them, and tells her that Daniel is as good as dead to their family.
Grace had all but forgotten him as she starts her junior year in high school, but suddenly Daniel comes back and is suddenly back in her life. Despite Jude’s constant warnings to stay away from him, Grace can’t help but be drawn to her old childhood friend, who had almost turned into their adopted brother when he moved in, before he left.
But there’s something strange about Daniel, something that doesn’t quite fit and Grace is determined to figure it out, not just for her own needs, but to mend the problems between him and Jude. Despite Grace’s good intentions, she gets caught in an old battle, and must decide which side she stands on.
I really enjoyed The Dark Divine. I haven’t been too impressed by the paranormal YA genre of late, but this one was a highly enjoyable read. I hadn’t heard of it before randomly stumbling upon it on Goodreads, but was pleasantly surprised.
For one thing, Grace’s family is very much present in the story, unlike some other YA stories out there. Her father is a pastor in town, and this added some interesting flavour to the story, such as religious undertones of redemption and sin. Every member of Grace’s family, from her father to mother to sister, was fully developed and had their own set of complications and stories, just hidden beyond the surface. I really appreciated that they weren’t storyboard cut-outs, just occupying the role of ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, but that they had a role in what happened to Daniel and whether he would be allowed back into their lives.
The romance was also well thought out and carefully constructed. Again, unlike many other YA heroines, Grace doesn’t just fall headfirst into Daniel’s arms. Of course there’s attraction and tension, but Grace is quite mindful of Jude’s warning, and even after learning what spurred that warning, warns Daniel to stay away from her.
In terms of characterization, I really enjoyed Grace’s voice and didn’t find her whiny or annoying. She wasn’t prone to fainting all over the place, and several times demanded Daniel to tell her what was going on. I appreciated this about her. Daniel, for the most part, was a solid character and did things that made sense. He is tortured, but for good reason.
The few things that I will nitpick are the mystery and the ending. The mystery isn’t that well played, and several clunky clues are dropped in the beginning, which hint towards what Daniel is and what his history is. This took away from the enjoyment of the story, especially since Grace seemed to move at a glacial pace to finally figure out what was going on. She has this old box of letters her dad gives to her, but she prolongs reading it, which I suppose is Despain’s attempt to draw the mystery out a bit, which was more annoying than suspenseful.
Secondly, the things I mentioned above as strengths sort of turn in on themselves by the end. Grace’s dad is such a prominent figure in the first half of the novel, yet he completely disappears by the second half. Disappearing is one thing, but his presence in the story is quite important, since he knows what Daniel is and is trying to help him. So where the heck does he disappear to at the end?! Also, there is a pretty big confrontation between Jude and Daniel at the end, and Grace sides with Daniel, over her brother. This is the most disloyal thing I can think of, and it really annoyed me. It was just like, “Oh look, I have a boyfriend now, so who needs a brother?” which was not cool.
Other than that, this was a pretty enjoyable read. As Yaseena points out on Goodreads, the story isn’t just based in an otherworldly world, but involves the real world, as it deals with real problems, along with otherworldly ones, which was great.
I originally gave this book 4.5 stars, but after writing this review and thinking over the two flaws that I mentioned (which are pretty big), I’m going to have to reduce it to 4/5.
Thanks for reading.
‘Till next time,