The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine  - Bree Despain Personally, with every single formulaic approach that Bree Despain's "The Dark Divine" draws upon - I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would (with some caveats). It may be that Despain's way of weaving her characters voices, dialogue, and balance of action, romance, and fantasy elements appealed to me on a casual read. I found myself blazing through it and finishing the story in a day. Reflecting upon it the day after, I realized just how entertaining it was if you're not necessarily familiar with these kinds of stories, or if you are familiar and are looking for certain elements to appeal to you. Don't get me wrong - yes, it bears a striking resemblance to stories like Twilight - heck, I think there are parallels that I could draw between both novels that are strikingly similar, but that's probably the biggest criticism I have of the book, in addition to saying that I wish, wish, wish that it could've had more original elements to play it up even stronger than what it was.But I'll be honest, I did find a connection with the novel's primary triangle - Grace, Daniel and Jude. Their stories/histories felt relevant enough to be able to show the progression of their relationships and transpiring conflicts through the novel. True, Grace might be a bit naive, but at least I could see her thought process and could follow her sentiments from there. Grace Divine (I'll admit, the protagonist's name made me roll my eyes at the beginning, because it feels a bit heavy handed considering she's a preacher's daughter) is a young woman surprised by the sudden return of a childhood friend to her hometown, who fell out of her family's favor after a savage event. Though Grace doesn't know much about what happened when Daniel left her family, she's shocked to find her childhood crush has returned, and of all things, wants to attend her school for art, something that she's passionate about. Daniel is a residential bad boy whose drawn to Grace but harbors a terrible secret (one which I saw coming a mile away, but there are certain times when I almost doubted what Daniel could be).What I didn't expect, however, were a few twists which explain why Jude hates Daniel and wants nothing to do with him, while at the same time heightening the tension in the story and taking Grace through the ringer, even if it ended quite sooner than I expected. There are some reveals that I didn't see coming and I liked certain points where Grace is pushing herself towards figuring out the truth. Granted, the incorporated elements are very familiar (almost too familiar) for this genre, but somehow, it keeps you reading and it works for keeping a steady momentum until the very end. I did struggle through the first part of the book and it took me a little while before I said "Okay, I can take the protagonist and what she goes through".I give it a solid three star ranking because it straddles a line between familiar and unique, and I think those who aren't expecting much of an extreme for either one of those can appreciate what the work does and how it draws you in. I definitely want to read the sequel to this to see if it improves, but I will caution that it does end rather sudden (with somewhat of a resolution, but enough unanswered questions to leave one wanting more from it) and that it does tend to stick to genre cliches a little more than I would've liked.Overall score: 3/5