Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Heroine, Bridget Duke, rules her high school, but when she crashes her car and ends up in limbo, she must confront the people she has wronged, all of whom want her to go to hell. The outcome of these meetings will decide her final destination.

Coming February 1, 2011!

"I want you to undersant how people see you, and how your actions matter...You must learn that your place in the world is important. You've been given the power to affect people, just as we all have, and it's important-no,vital-that you do the right thing with it" - Anna Judge

I recently received an advanced readers copy of this novel from Netgalley and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. Still, had I written this review half-way through my reading, trust me when I say, the review would have been as insufferable to write as was it's main character. As it is, I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case. If ever a character has been redeemed throughout a two-hundred something page novel, Bridget Duke has been that girl.

Bridget Duke, as the synopsis points out, is the ruler-high supreme of her very exclusive, private high school, Winchester Prep. Her dad, a well-known TV sports broadcaster, is not only a local celebrity but a big boost to Bridget’s popularity. I have to admit, it’s not the same to read about the totally bitchy/mean girl who wrecks the lives of others in third person, as opposed to reading about her in first person, with all her thoughts, emotions and yeah, totally bitchiness at the for-front. And that’s exactly the case with this book. I don’t know whether or not that was Paige Harbison’s intention, but she presents us with a character that’s not very hard to immediately dislike. She creates a seemingly superficial, shallow rich girl, who without being cliché, grows in leaps and bounds throughout the novel.

Bridget Duke has always been the “center of attention” of everyone around her, though probably not for the reasons she believes. As a person she’s selfish, envious, mean, catty, manipulating and whatever more horrid adjective you can attribute to someone who simply put, is unbearable. Many times I found myself wanting to rip her a new one for all the things she said to her supposed best friends, the way she lied to the headmaster, or how she treated her not so wicked stepmother. With that said, the book was impossible to put down. Watching Bridget treat others was like watching an oncoming train wreck, you want to close your eyes, but you simply can’t. The funny part was, Bridget honestly believed she was doing the right thing; that it was her, in any case, who had been wronged when things didn’t go her way.

Which is probably why, I couldn’t find it in myself to completely hate her. In fact, by the end of the novel, I had not only cried for her, but I was incredibly proud of her! As the story progresses and you learn more about her past, especially what happened with her mother, you kind of start understanding where all the attitude is coming from. The only part that was off-putting to me was the prologue. We start out with Bridget in a supposed limbo, not quite dead but not alive either, and then we go back to the events preceding the death. I thought this part would be quick, and there would be more emphasis and the actual judgement part, but the actual retrospect takes about half the novel. It isn’t until I got into the second part of the novel that I understood why so much of the novel had been dedicated to the seemingly inconsequential stuff.

I have to admit, for a debut novel, Paige Harbison did a spectacular job! Not only did she do a superb job with Bridget’s character, but the characters of Meridith, Michelle and Liam were surprisingly real in their struggles. Liam especially! He was sweet and cute, and not only did I like how things between him and Bridget progressed, but how he was the only one who never gave up on her. The ending was also great. It had a bit of the happy without losing the credibility aspect of the novel. It’s true Bridget redeemed herself, but the consequences of her actions still took place. I must warn you though, there’s a bit of a Christmas Carol element to the novel, but instead of ghosts, you have shoes! I'll leave that one for the readers to figure out!

Consensus: Paige Harbison’s debut novel was not only refreshing in its approach to the subject but construed a great read as well! If you’re looking for something different in a young adult novel, look no further because Bridget Duke will touch a lot more than a few of your heartstrings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.
Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother. As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

"The problem with promises is that once you've made one, it's bound to be broken"

I recently had the pleasure...as in all of yesterday, to sit down and read (more like devour) the novel The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. It was more or less by accident that I found this gem among a list on Goodreads that caught my eye-The Color Purple-though I assure you, this novel held no purple prose. Instead, it had the ability to captivate you from the very first.

Grace Divine is a junior at her local high school and if her name wasn't much off a tip off, she is the daughter of a pastor. Grace is the girl with all the answers: which includes knowing what's right and what's wrong. That is, until Daniel Kalbi comes crashing back into her life. Daniel is no longer the little kid whom Grace remembers. His light hair has long ago been dyed to black, and the mystery of his return remains as secret as the reason why he left.

As many people have pointed out in other reviews, the supernatural element in this book wasn't much of a surprise. Many more than obvious hints were given throughout the novel, but in Grace's defense, what normal person expects their boyfriend to turn furry? What was surprising, and probably what kept me ripping through the pages, was figuring out the mystery behind Jude's anger towards Daniel. As the book summary points out, there's a play off the Prodigal Son story, but I found it to be refreshing instead of repetitive.

The love story on the other hand was very nice. Unlike other Y.A. novels on the market, the author abstained from utilizing some of the more cliche story lines, and though the build up to the romance was slow, I found it very much rewarding at the end. Daniel is the typical bad boy turned reformed, but I felt the author gave the character a lot a depth as the reader learned more about Daniel's history and lineage. He was very much swoon worthy and I enjoyed every time Daniel appeared on the page. Grace, on the other hand, was a relatively strong female lead. She was very much assured of herself and her attraction towards Daniel was sweet, without bordering on obssesive. The only time Grace truly frustrated me was when, after realizing Daniel's secret, she then choose to be loyal to the promise she made her brother.

Jude played a major role in the development of Daniel and Grace's budding romance. He was Daniel's childhood best friend and appeared to be very much more "saint-like" than Grace herself. Rather than being threatened by Grace's other romantic interest (Pete Bradshaw) it was really Jude who put the budding relationship in jeopardy. Though it was sweet that Grace wanted to honor her brother's wishes and stay away from Daniel, it was honestly a moot point. The attraction between Daniel and Grace was very much strong, and Grace choosing to follow that promise only when she felt confused about Daniel's intention was immature and very unfair to Daniel. Still, it was hard not to care about Jude's character as the novel reached its end.

I'm exhilarated to have read this so close to the sequels release, The Lost Saint. I'm excited to see Daniel and Grace's relationship continued and see exactly what happened to Jude. December 28 cannot be here any sooner, but until then, I will have to contend myself with re-reading some of my favorite passages from the novel.

Consensus: The novel was sweet and addicting without being overly cliche. I recommend it to any young or older teen looking for a riveting read they can't not finish before going to sleep.

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