This weekend I finished Divine By Choice, the sequel to P.C. Cast’s Divine By Mistake (see my thoughts about this one here). I had trepidation about reading this book, because I remembered not liking it very much the first time. Come to find out, I didn’t like it much this time, either.
Once again, Shannon is yanked out of her world (only this time she is yanked out of Partholon and returned to Oklahoma), and has to deal with the mess Rhiannon is leaving in her wake. There are a lot of things I could point to as reasons why I didn’t much care for it: This book introduces quite a few new characters that we’re supposed to care about, but it doesn’t give us reasons why we should. Shannon falls in love with a man who is the mirror image of her husband within days of knowing him and has a very cavalier attitude about her marriage. She fights the same evil she did in the first book, only pulled through between worlds, which I find lacking imagination. Shannon also suddenly has new magic powers that she conveniently uses once she’s back in Oklahoma to talk to the trees in the forest.
But the main problem I have with it is the weakness of the heroine. Now, I don’t consider myself a modern feminist. But I do enjoy a strong female lead, and I think women as a whole are strong characters who should be written like the well-rounded people they are. Shannon is not a strong female lead in this book. She wasn’t overly strong in the first book, but that can be mostly excused. She’s in a world she doesn’t know and has to learn the rules, so it makes sense that she would lean on other characters who are more experienced. She often showed her compassionate side, and truly desired what was best for her people, which is a more subtle type of strength. In the end, she joined her people in battle, and put herself in harm’s way to save them. While she wasn’t overtly strong, she showed growth, which is what readers need in a protagonist.
In Divine By Choice, though, I saw very little strength from her. To be fair, she begins the story sick from her pregnancy, and her body is physically weak. But even once the sickness abates, she is still helped in and out of the car and is helped to the door by the big strong man. There’s deep snow outside, but instead of walking in it like a big girl, she is either carried (again by the big strong man) or is clutching his arm for assistance. Even though she is back on her home turf, she relies on him to make plans and get her where she needs to go. She asks him to take care of her, to feed her (meaning to swing through the Arby’s drive-through), and to love her.
As I also noted in Divine By Mistake, Shannon doesn’t put a whole lot of effort into discovering how she was brought back into her own world. Clint (her husband’s mirror image) tells her what he thinks happened on his end, but she doesn’t bother to verify his information or figure out exactly what happened. She even waits several days to contact Rhiannon (who she knows is still in the same world), even though Rhiannon would be the perfect person to get information from.
In the final battle, Shannon doesn’t even fight. She gets snatched and stabbed, and watches while Clint saves the day. He summons Native American warriors to kill the evil creature, then sacrifices himself to send Shannon back to Partholon. She literally does nothing.
Overall, Shannon drove me nuts in this book. I have a policy about not putting a book down before it’s finished, and I’ve only rarely broken it. My main goal in reading this book was to bridge the gap before reading the next one, Divine By Blood, which is the only one I haven’t read before. It’s new to me, which makes it exciting, and I’m hoping I truly enjoy it instead of it just being something for me to finish and move on.