The Dark Divine came to a conclusion (for the first book, that is) that saved my interest in the series. But uncertainty grabbed me along the way. Grace is the narrator, but the boys are always saving the day. I almost stopped reading when the Almost Rape Scene showed up in the third act. Authors of YA novels, can you please stop using the ARS to get the guys who save the day to look good? Have some respect for the gravity of the situation instead of brushing it off with someone stepping in to save the day every single time.
Despain's writing style is simple. Her prose moves quickly, and she sustains the plot throughout the novel without giving away the secrets among the characters until after halfway through. However, the supernatural element was too light. It came to life for a brief few pages in the end, but until then it was a shadow in the background. There is only so much teenage relationship angst one can take before one needs a dose of supernatural fight scenes and mythology.
Certain parts of this book, though, gave me great pause.
"The tight, sculpted bodice actually made it look like I had breasts, but my favorite part was the pop of color in the red sash around the middle that made my waist appear impossibly small."
A young woman who has been concerned with art, forgiveness, and truth throughout the novel takes a look at her self in the mirror for a chance to point out her "flaws." These flaws being breasts that aren't up to society's standards as actually having breasts, and appearing to have a waist that can't be achieved in reality. This part was out of character, and I found it a disservice to Grace's strength as a person with her priorities in the right places.
I liked Daniel before he became Grace's boyfriend. They were equals until then--until Daniel started bossing her around as soon as they started dating. After a few chapters, Grace tells him to stop telling her what to do, but I question why the change happened in Daniel. He demands she stay inside for her own safety because now that they're dating he has the right to make such demands?
Then there is Grace's brother Jude. If you're Christian or you know anything about a man named Judas, you know right away something isn't right with Jude. I thought Jude would turn out to be a rather flat character, but a decision he makes at the end of the novel sparked my interest in him, and I'm looking forward to where his story goes in The Lost Saint. The former friendship between Daniel and Jude is my favorite relationship in the book. The guilt, betrayal, and pain felt by both of them over past actions breaks through the page, begging you to sympathize. I certainly could, but when Jude declared that Grace's supposed sexual relationship with Daniel was tearing the family apart, and that he had to save her from being defiled...not so much sympathy there, no. I'm not sure if that aspect of Jude was a result of a conservative Christian upbringing or hysteria. Either way, his line of thinking is seen all too often in the real world, and I wish Grace had a chance to set him straight.
I didn't think The Dark Divine was fantastic, but I imagine the second novel will be stronger (a hard thing to achieve).