Specifically the tough choice: do you rebel against your fallen angel status, or do you embrace the dark side?
Our sixteen-year-old protagonist, Kiriela, is three-quarters angel, which I’m sure comes with its own set of difficulties and challenges. It’s the one-quarter of human in her that gets her in the most trouble.
(Leave it to us pesky humans to mess up everything!)
When Kiriela and her almost-boyfriend, Jadiel, shake up the status quo in heaven, Kiriela and her family are forced into exile on Earth, in Puerto Rico. Kiriela, now known as Krystal, must blend in with her human classmates while covering up the fact that she’s not quite like them. She must fight the urge to interfere and to protect the handsome Dante Vega, a rocker in a school full of rap-loving students. When Krystal risks her angel status with a simple kiss, her entire world is thrown off-balance. Now she’s faced with that tough choice: will she help Satan round up the souls of the people she cares for, or will she herself fall to Hell?
Susan Nadathur’s writing is thoughtful and unique, although I had some initial difficulty following the rankings of the supernatural beings and their abilities. Once I got into the story this became easier, but in the beginning I felt confused, having been dropped into this world of angels and demons. I have to say my favorite part of Nadathur’s story was definitely the location. Puerto Rico is not a place I’ve read much about, but her beautiful imagery, full of color and specific details, really allowed me to “live” there for the duration of the novel. At the end of Dante’s Kiss, Nadathur thanks a school and its officials for teaching her about the Puerto Rican school system, so you know that she did her research. I felt immersed in the culture through the structure of the school day and the social circles of the students.
I did have some difficulty pinpointing which relationships I should care most about in Dante’s Kiss. There is, of course, Kiriela and Jadiel’s relationship, which undergoes drastic changes and challenges throughout the novel. Most of the time this felt overshadowed by Kiriela/Krystal’s confusing relationship with Dante. Is it the relationship of the protector and protectee? Is it a romantic relationship? And, what felt like out of nowhere, there is a relationship blossoming between Dante and Salena, a quiet girl that Krystal makes friends with. Her introduction into the story made her seem like nothing special, in my opinion, but eventually her presence holds a lot of weight. Who exactly am I supposed to root for, and what do I want them to achieve? There were so many decisions to be made, and so many consequences. Although I was definitely wrapped up in the story, I didn’t quite know what I wanted out of it.
Dante’s Kiss is an intriguing novel, and it posed a lot of questions about the battle of good versus evil, and what one is willing to do for the people they love. If you’re looking for a different sort of paranormal romance, I’d highly recommend this one. Just don’t blame me if you can’t choose what side you’re on!
Release Date: June 11, 2014
Received: Netgalley ARC