Jessica's Reviews > Dark Descendant

Dark Descendant by Jenna Black
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's review
Dec 23, 2011

did not like it

There's a great concept for a book at the heart of DARK DESCENDANT. Unfortunately, the writing is terrible and the concept never really gets developed.

If I found out I were a descendant of Artemis, and people were trying to kill me, the first thing I'd do is go somewhere safe (which the heroine does). But the second thing I'd do is, oh, try to find out whatever I could about Artemis.

Of course, Nikki doesn't need to, because that would be a useful step in the real world, where gods and goddesses aren't limited to one or two characteristics. People aren't, either. Unfortunately, all the characters in DARK DESCENDANT get short shrift, as everyone is defined by one or two traits. Artemis was a goddess of the hunt, so Nikki is great at finding people and a sharpshooter.

But Artemis was also a virgin goddess. This gets touched upon, but only in the sense that it makes Nikki a Rare And Precious Snowflake, not in the sense of finding out who her mortal ancestor was, why Artemis decided to have a child, etc. Artemis was also the goddess of wild animals, but that doesn't figure into it at all, either in the sense of Nikki having an affinity for animals or them particularly liking her. Disease, childbirth, the moon and Artemis' other aspects never get touched upon.

Of course, Nikki is such a shallow, bland character that there's not really room in her personality for any exploration of what it would mean to be descended from a goddess, or what sort of responsibilities (besides surviving) that might entail, etc.

Jenna Black fills the book with on-the-nose, sometimes cringe-worthy dialogue, and violates the cardinal rule of storytelling (show, don't tell) at every turn. (How about letting us figure out that Alexis -- or maybe it was Konstantin; their personalities were so identical that I have a hard time telling them apart -- is evil by, oh, his actions? His facial expressions and reactions to what Nikki is saying? His attitudes toward other people? That's too much work, apparently, because she'd rather just tell us straight out that he's evil, and have him start right in on the evildoing forthwith.)

The only remotely interesting character is the head of the group of descendants that Nikki joins, who convincingly spins out the "evil or not" question until near the end.

What a waste.
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