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Review: A Beautiful Dark

A Beautiful Dark
by Jocelyn Davies

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Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley + HarperTeen
Rating: Guilty Pleasure
About the Book:
On the night of Skye's seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites;like fire and ice;Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can't help falling for, and Devin, who she can't stay away from, the consequences of Skye's choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
I'd heard enough negative talk for this book to spin my own preconceived judgement of this book: I would not like this. But when I actually opened up A Beautiful Dark I regained faith in the book and was pleasantly surprised. Was I absolutely certifiably wowed? No. Did this make for an engrossing page-turner I could not put down even if I wanted to? Yes! Despite my minor misgivings toward the book, I became deeply enmeshed in the story, which served up an intriguing paranormal mystery, fun characters, and an overall well-written story that glides smoothly at first then trips into mountains of obstacles and edgy tension.

Skye is an MC I can get into, and did, gradually. She's prone to making dumb decisions though she professes to be clever and intelligent, but, at the same time, she reads as an ordinary girl who isn't seasoned enough to avoid being torn between two guys when their intentions are painfully obvious as are the consequences of choosing between light and dark. She's very naive, but being raised to expect the normal of the world leaves her fully unprepared for the otherwordly beings that wedge a foot in the door to her life. Underlying her irritating characteristics lies a strength and levelheadedness that I can respect. She may have gotten on my nerves often, but she isn't a lost cause or a pressing reason to write-off the book.

One of the cons of this book, however, for me, was the tremulous love triangle. Normally, I'm immediately Anti Love Triangles. Before this book, if you wanted a t-shirt to immortalize that sentiment, I would've been your go-to girl. But, Davies's take leaves me, for the first time, confused, unsure and wary of slapping down my final say. Because about halfway into the book I stopped cringing and backing away slowly from the possibility, truly maybe getting into it. Asher is a dark flame, an arrogant bad-boy, with a penchant for doing what he wants when he wants, while Devin is the calm yet broody type, all about order. I could understand Skye's attraction, even in the beginning when I was considering chucking the book somewhere unpleasant, but it wasn't until the guys began to open up a little bit did they manage to snag me. And for a little while there, they had me gripped tightly. But as the mystery of their presence slowly began to unravel, I lost a substantial amount of interest in both boys. The love triangle romance went from predictable to semi-lovable then dimmed to something not (lovable). Skye's friends - you know, the relatively normal ones - ended up being much more involved and exciting to read about!

The kicker turned out to be when I realized that what I most liked about the book was unraveling the mystery of the boys' presence - eventually, my growing feelings of like for both boys fragmented almost completely, but by that point their puzzling entrance into Skye's life interested me more than anything else. Me, the romance girl! Still, I wanted to know what the heck they were and what was going on, and I wasn't disappointed! By the time everything was uncovered and the pieces began to fit together, the intensity struck and I was frantically reading to get to the good stuff. Some revelations were expected, but others... others were a fun surprise. I groaned, loudly enough to turn a few heads at school, once I reached the maddening cliffhanger at the end.

While the romance was lacking, the MC, side characters, and paranormal element helped me determine that I definitely liked this book. I'm interested to see if A Fractured Light will be enough of an improvement to justify continuing with this series.

I stayed rock-still in my seat, not daring to turn around, hardly even daring to breathe. I could tell, just tell, that he was watching me. It bugged me. I wasn't that fascinating.
If this was some weird kind of cousin rivalry - see who could get the girl first at the new school - I wasn't playing the game. Let them fight it out. (15%)

"...You're getting flustered and defensive. This is really a textbook case. But let's press on, shall we? Clue number four: You couldn't stop turning around to look behind you."
"But I-"
"Shh. This brings us to the final and most important clue: You haven't touched your lunch."
"Ah!" Cassie cried, pointing her index finger at my face. "Witness the defendant's telling facial color! Skye never eats when she's nervous. Sensitive stomach. And why should she be nervous," Cassie said, slamming her hand on the table as if she was auditioning for Law and Order, "if she doesn't have a crush?" (16%)


Jenny said...

I had trouble with this one for most of the reasons you mentioned, with Skye waffling between the two boys and making less-than intelligent decisions, but just like you said she was in no way a lost cause. By the end of this one I was in to everything and that cliffhanger left me with my jaw hanging open and running to the computer to see when the next book was going to be released:) Brilliant review Asher!

Jaskirat@SeeitORreadit said...

I haven't read this book yet but I agree with you about the fact that there have been some very negative things said about it. However even though the romance sounds very boring I think I will still try this book becuase it has paranormal elements. Thanks for the phenominal review and sweet teaser :)


Mimi Valentine said...

LOL I just LOVE your "guilty pleasures" stamp on this -- I have so many books like that for me too! x) (Lauren Kate's Fallen series was one of them!)

I've been hearing lots of mixed reviews about this one too which is why I was wary to start it, but now I really want to! Even though some aspects sound frustrating, others sound SO awesome -- and I especially love that Skye's friends are included a lot, because so many books nowadays focus only on the main romance characters!

Awesome review, Asher! :)

Kristina said...

At first, I really wasn't sure where this book was going, but once it picked up I also was pleasantly surprised. And how crazy was that cliffhanger?? Glad that you enjoyed the book!

Missie said...

Isn't it great when it turns out that you like a book you expected not to like?! Love that feeling. Despite the love triangle, this one does sound pretty good. I like seeing strong side characters included because I think they are just as important!

P.S. Have I mention how much I love looking at your blog? Soooo Pretty!

Brodie said...

I got a copy this week and will hopefully be reading soon, so I'm glad to hear that you did enjoy it! Despite some issues with the romance... which sounds like it had potential at one point. Unfortunate! I hope I'll enjoy it more. I don't hate love triangles, provided they're done... right.

Still, at least it serves as a 'guilty pleasure' :D Fab review!!

Liz. R said...

I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this, so haven't been sure whether to read it or not, but I think I'll give it a go after this review! I'm not too fond of love triangles, but I think I could get past that. Thanks for the review! :)

Rebecca said...

Great review! I've seen so many negative reviews lately that this was really refreshing! I admit I'm still as curious as when first seeing it, so I'll probably have to pick it up sometime in the future to see which side I'll end up on. I'm definitely curious!