“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in an...moreREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in an action-packed, fast-paced, fantasy novel. Darla Jade is called from the grave by Striker and sent to heaven to train in the Heaven Sent Academy to become a guardian angel. Among the other souls called up at the same time is Johnny who is sent to help. Darla finds a group of friends – they call themselves 'the guardians' – with whom she makes a pact to fight against evil. Meanwhile, hell is unbearable, and Johnny is determined to find a way to bring evil's wrath and destruction to earth in order to escape hell. The guardians must save the world from Johnny and Brimstone; otherwise, the balance will be turned to evil and the world will be overcome.
Reynolds painted a clear world. From descriptions of Striker’s (somewhat like the grim reaper) bony hands, or the sullen countenance to the keeper of the feather’s many years of work and struggle to hold the feathers, or the enjoyable class Leonardo DaVinci taught on restoring the earth, I was given a clear understanding and picture of the scene. Fortunately, the descriptions were not heavy handed nor did they leave the book full of pages of endless descriptions; the descriptions were often fit into dialogue or actions scenes, keeping the book fast-paced.
The plot was well developed and set up. Many times, small pieces of information, often hidden (just like the descriptions) in more exciting scenes, came back later to carry along an unexpected twist in the plot. “Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” as the first book in a series, left many loose strings for the next book, yet still managed to feel like a complete story, enjoyable without book two on the nightstand.
I do have one minor issue with the book. As a Christian, when this book presented certain beliefs which I disagreed with as ‘Christian,’ I felt misrepresented. My biggest concerns were twofold.
First, God was presented as a CEO trying to maintain the “balance” of good and evil according to certain laws, but largely removed from the gritty details. I believe in a God more kingly, glorious, good, and all-powerful, whose plans are for redemption, not just maintenance of a balance. In fact, the balancing concept felt more Jedi or yin-yang than Christian.
Second, I felt that the book present a works-based reality – you go to heaven (or hell) based on good (or bad) deeds. In heaven, success depends upon good grades and good behavior (the more demerits, the less capable of fulfilling duties). I believe the all-powerful God has, in mercy, provided us a way to become our god-created, perfect selves without counting good deeds and thusly producing a “nice and naughty list.”
Any other beliefs I would have disagreed with weren’t large enough to really bother me, and I saw how they added to the world and plot. Although I had some disagreements with the beliefs, I would still recommend the book – with a warning that I didn’t necessarily agree with everything – just as I would a book set in another religious system.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds is an enjoyable epic tale. I would recommend book one of the Guardians series to most middle and high school students, particularly those who enjoy books pitting good against evil, with strong action.(less)
Three years ago, I attended a spring retreat with my youth group in the US (the Attic). The speaker at the 'camp' used this book as his 'sermons' for...moreThree years ago, I attended a spring retreat with my youth group in the US (the Attic). The speaker at the 'camp' used this book as his 'sermons' for the week. He spoke as if he was Screwtape, and as if we were his nephew who needed help in entrapping humans. Ever since that rather intriguing introduction to the book, I've been meaning to read it; a book written from a demon who is tempting a Christian's perspective? Sign me up! I finally got my hands on a copy of the book two weeks ago, and read it.
It was a highly interesting read -- I might even go as far as to say more interesting and salient than I was expecting.
The main contention of the Devil is that if one can get a human (Christian or otherwise) to view Christianity as a club, or to get into a habit, or to only access God at church, or to slowly ignore God, or to slip into sins, or to conince themselves that something is okay because of some 'Christianese' reason, then the Christian will never truly know God, and won't really be a Christian.(less)