Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Beautiful Dark Book Review

Author: Jocelyn Davies. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  HarperTeen. ISBN: 9780061990656.

Annotation: On her seventeenth-birthday, Skye Parker meets Asher and Devin. Cousins with a strange, turbulent relationship, Skye isn’t sure what to make of the pair or their presence in her small Colorado town. When she learns the truth of who they are and their role in her past, Skye’s once simple life is changed forever.
Personal thoughts: One of the most telling things for me about this novel was how the author describes herself as a lover of all things angsty on the book jacket. That is exactly the word I would choose to describe the overall tone of the novel: angsty. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, however. I think the right level of angst can make for a good story, and Jocelyn Davies does a good job of keeping the angst, for the most part, at a manageable and enjoyable level. I think the whole concept of the dark, bad boy vs. the clean-cut, good guy is a classic, and I liked how it was used in this novel. I thought the mix of romance and paranormal was well done, and I especially enjoyed the support characters and the attention the author put into developing them sufficiently. I would definitely recommend this book to Twilight fans and could see many 13 to 16-year-olds relishing Skye’s “dilemma” in having to choose between two chiseled hotties. I plan to read the sequel.  

Plot summary: On the night of her seventeenth-birthday, Skye Parker meets cousins Asher and Devin. New to her small Colorado town of River Springs, the two are complete opposites. Dark and wild, Asher is the more flirtatious of the pair, instantly charming all the girls at Skye’s high school. Fair and quiet, Devin is far more reserved, showing more than a little contempt for Asher’s boisterous personality. What’s far more strange, however, is how the two seem to be inexplicably interested in Skye. Since her parents were killed in a car accident on her sixth-birthday, Skye has lived a quiet life with her Aunt Jo, spending her free time with best friends Cassie and Dan, and competing on the ski team. She has never been one to draw the attention of a lot of guys, especially two handsome, mysterious ones like Asher and Devin. As Skye gets to know the cousins, however, she learns that their presence in River Springs, and their interest in her, is no accident. Who they are and the role they play in Skye’s past, and future, will change her life forever.
Review: Book editor turned author, Jocelyn Davies, delivers a healthy dose of romance, angst and adventure in A Beautiful Dark, the first novel in a new paranormal romance series for teens. Fans of Twilight are sure to relish this book, and the story seems to be tailor made to appeal to that target audience. As an editor for teen books, it is clear that the author knows what “works” in this genre, and the novel seems to have all the necessary elements: a beautiful but naïve heroine, a love triangle involving two sexy guys, the paranormal twist, and a sizable cliffhanger to keep readers longing for the sequel. There is very little new material in the novel, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Readers are sure to enjoy the dynamics between Asher and Devin, and how Skye finds herself falling for them both for different reasons. The Colorado setting is also interesting, giving the novel an icy, wintery tone. Skye’s friends, particularly Cassie, are also likable support characters, as is her loving adoptive mother, Jo. Overall, A Beautiful Dark doesn’t break through any walls, but does make for an entertaining read that many tweens and teens are certain to swoon over. The second installment in the series, A Fractured Light, is set to be released on September 25, 2012.
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon, Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck, Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan M. James.
Themes:  Angels, destiny, rebellion, orphans, love triangle, romance.
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Kirkus and VOYA.
Series Information: First novel in Beautiful Dark series. Second installment, A Fractured Light, set to be released September 25, 2012.   
Discussion questions:
-       Why do you think birthdays are so difficult for Skye?

-      Who do you like better: Asher or Devin? Why?

-      Why do you think Skye is so important to both the Order and the Rebellion?

-    Do you think Skye is a good friend to Cassie? Ian? Dan? Why or why not?

-       Explain what you think happened in the final chapters of the novel. How do you think those events will play out in the sequel?

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