Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Dark Destiny by Thomas Grave

Dark Destiny
by Thomas Grave

27224991Great friends. A perfect girlfriend. Life is good for 17-year-old Sebastian until tragedy shatters his blissful existence, awakening a dark power inside him. Visions of a ghostly and broken world lead to a mysterious woman who tells him that he's the reincarnation of Death. With the title comes great power. Will he use it for good? Or, will he drown in the darkness of his own selfish purposes?

Sebastian Scott is just an average video-game loving seventeen year old living in a single-parent home with his police lieutenant mom. He has the perfect girlfriend, Sara, a great set of friends, and life is looking up his senior year. But when Sara hands him an ancient book she found in his attic, his life turns upside down.
That same night Sara is killed in a tornado that destroys her home, and not a natural one. One that destroys only her home, and leaves the neighboring homes untouched. Devastated, Sebastian descends into a fog of depression, one that somehow draws him back to the book she gave him.
Upon opening the ancient tome, Sebastian learns that he is a reincarnation of the Angel of Death, and has great power. Possibly even enough power to bring his dead girlfriend back.

Dark Destiny began with more flashbacks, plot twists and jump scares than a season of Lost, and the author kept me guessing about the true nature of the story up until the very end. The book was packed with anime-style overpowered battles between Sebastian and the Archangels, not to mention the Seals, shades, poltergeists, zombies, and the ghosts inhabiting Purgatory. The action in the book was gripping and I could see it making a decent anime.

That having been said, the flashbacks got me quite confused early on, and I found it a bit difficult to keep reading until I hit about chapter 3. After that point the action was constant, and I was pretty well hooked to the exciting showdown at the end. I'd recommend reading this, with that in mind.

R - Wow, there was a lot. Ripping souls out of chests and eating them, destroying buildings and wiping out neighborhoods, a gang beating someone to death, a demon breaking into a peaceful home and killing everyone in it. Lots of anime-level violence between the angels and Death, and other lesser beings.

PG-13 - I don't recall seeing the F-bomb, but there was a scattering of other curse words, even by some of the angels.

Adult Content:
PG - several scenes involved kissing, and one of the bad characters is a girl who dresses very provocatively. There's some teen angst, and a girl is threatened in a bad neighborhood by some thugs who aren't interested in her money.

Christian content: (Catholic?)
Well, where do I begin here? From a Catholic standpoint, there's not as much to object to, so I'll hit this from that perspective. There are the basic archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, but they dress in black and have badditudes. They obviously don't like humans and for the most part don't want to deal with them. At least at the beginning, this casts them in a negative light. Raphael is softer to the fallen humans than the others. But they sometimes drop a cuss word, which just struck me as out of character. Then, there's Purgatory, a shifted copy of our world but Zombified, and broken into rubble. Judging by the fights over there, I'm not surprised... For the most part the view of Purgatory lines up with what I know of it, a chance to process and get to heaven, or wait to end up in Hell.
The seven Seals from Revelation are depicted here as characters, rather than as wax seals, and they are more powerful than the archangels, it seems, though not more powerful than Michael. God does not intervene at all in the story, other than through the characters and events.

My biggest yellow flag I would drop here is the concept of Souls being destroyed or absorbed by those in Purgatory that want to advance in rank. That's obviously counter to Scripture, as each person gets to stand in judgement for an eternity somewhere, Heaven or Hell.
So I'll close this by saying it's a good read, but be aware of these deviations, it's not meant to be a devotional, just an entertaining read.

Final analysis:
I gotta admit, the idea of a Teen who discovers he's Death was intriguing, and kept me reading, though I had to plow through multiple flashbacks in order to get to the meat of the story. The content of the flashbacks was important but could have been (and was) touched on later in the story.
Sebastian was a Good guy turned Bad turned Good, and as he re-learned who he was and his powers, he had to make some tough decisions and learn from some rough mistakes. His character and those of the archangels were real and well-defined. Most of the supporting cast were... not so much. The principle antagonist also had dimension, but for the most part just seemed all bad.
The book was entertaining and reasonably well-written, with plenty of action and a few meaningful emotional scenes in the mix, with a touch of teen romance to spice things up a bit. Four Stars.

About the Author:
Thomas Grave stepped straight off his yacht in a crisp, pink Ralph Lauren polo, pressed khakis (no pleats), and a pair of Sperry Topsiders that gleamed in the bright sun. He'd paid $12 for that shine. Surveying the treeline, he slid the Ray Bans down his nose, leaving them just at the bridge. He said, "I'm going to write a book about Death today." After sliding the Ray Bans back up, he nodded once. He turned around, walked back up the ramp onto his luxury yacht, down the steps into his leather and mahogany study, and got to work.

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