To Go: 74
21. Water For Elephants — Sara Gruen
22. The Borrowers — Mary Norton
23. Very Valentine — Adriana Trigiani
24. Eat, Pray, Love — Elizabeth Gilbert
25. Something Borrowed — Emily Giffin
26. Divine Evil — Nora Roberts
You know when you pick up and purchase a novel from an author you’ve come to depend on, and happily expect the same kind of cheerfully manufactured plot and bubblegum ending that you always get? And then you read the first chapter and squirm uncomfortably because you have to wonder, what in God’s name is this filth that I’m reading?
Divine Evil, a fairly new-ish Nora Roberts novel, follows Clare Kimball, a famed New York sculptor, as she returns home to Emmitsboro, Maryland to confront memories of her father’s mysterious death. While settling back into town, she reconnects with Cameron Rafferty, the town’s former bad-boy (and current sheriff). Though her romance with him lulls her into a false state of security, it becomes apparent all too quickly that she is certainly not safe in her sleepy hometown.
Though Roberts is a well-known romance novelist, that plot fell secondary to the mystery/horror/psycho-thriller thing she had going on with the Satanic cult, which she wasted no time establishing in the opening scene. To say I was thrown off would have been a severe understatement; I was also immediately put off.
It’s not that I’m adverse to having that type of content in a book, because I’m not. It was just that it was presented in a manner that I consider to be detrimental to the overall effect. The cult rituals were described as involving weird Latin chanting, blood, gore, death, and the sacrifice of a naked female “altar” (who they raped, repeatedly, before then ending her life). Okay. Well.
I suppose, hypothetically, I can deal with the idea of rape in a story; it can shape a character greatly, can have a huge influence on plot, et cetera. However, my problem with using it as a part of the Satanic cult ritual is this: it didn’t benefit the plot in any way, and to be honest the actual act was almost glossed over, so to speak. The general effect came across as “oh, maybe I’ll throw rape into my novel today, to spice things up. Yeah. Then people will think I’m a more serious author.”
It seemed to be almost more of a shock tactic than anything, or some kind of proof that Roberts could do more than be “just a romance novelist;” ultimately, it did nothing more than disturb me, because it was poorly written, and uselessly thrown in. For an author whose books I enjoy, most of the time, I was certainly disappointed.
Besides that, the two lead characters, Clare and Cam, felt a little…predictable, and definitely scripted — none of their dialogue was particularly unique to them. I mean, you get what you pay for in the romance genre: the same genre tropes are always employed and ultimately lead to a rather formulaic story, especially now that novelists in that genre are leaning toward the all-too-common “just friends, just sex, no attachments, because I just can’t handle that in my life” story lines. However, it’s a little irritating to read a book and realize that the two main characters sounded like…every other lead couple Roberts has ever written. After a while, it gets a little stale.
Because I spent half of the novel disgusted and perplexed, and the other half bored out of my mind, I wouldn’t recommend Divine Evil. Though Roberts has wrote some novels that I’m not afraid to defend because they are really great romantic-fodder, this is not one of them.
Next book: It’s Kind of A Funny Story — Ned Vizzini