Looking for Dei

Looking for Dei

Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.A gifted youth ha...

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Title:Looking for Dei
Author:David A. Willson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Looking for Dei Reviews

  • Christopher Schmitz

    David A. Willson’s Looking For Dei is a wonderful new YA novel. It is listed under YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy… I’m not sure that it quite fits either of those molds. It also isn’t quite an apocalyptic dystopia, but there are minor elements of all those genres, making modern teen readers feel right at home with the themes.

    The story follows a few different POVs but mainly focuses on Nara and Mykel; Nara has a mysterious heritage and Mykel, her friend can empathize with her because of a birth def

    David A. Willson’s Looking For Dei is a wonderful new YA novel. It is listed under YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy… I’m not sure that it quite fits either of those molds. It also isn’t quite an apocalyptic dystopia, but there are minor elements of all those genres, making modern teen readers feel right at home with the themes.

    The story follows a few different POVs but mainly focuses on Nara and Mykel; Nara has a mysterious heritage and Mykel, her friend can empathize with her because of a birth defect. Looking for Dei evoked the same kinds of feeling that I get when watching the televised Shanara Chronicles. For the most part it’s good, but it’s also sometimes soooo YA slanted. But like I said: good. The story also evokes some themes of Madeleine L’Engle that I enjoy (themes of good vs evil and some very positive tropes that border on allegory in many respects.)

    Willson is his own writer and while there are tropes present (without overt spoilers, you’ll see what I mean when you encounter the light and dark dualism personified) he clearly isn’t ripping off anyone else’s story (I’m looking at you Paolini) and has crafted his own universe. I felt the universe took a little bit to unfold and would’ve liked to see the action unfold earlier than it did, but world-building can take time. I particularly enjoyed the little “flavoring” snippets such as quotes from the fictional holy texts like Cataclysmos—they really added a layer of depth that helps in more than just building a mythos, but drawing a reader into it.

    This is, over all, an enjoyable read and a good fit for pretty much any audience that enjoys YA or fantasy reads. I got my copy as an ARC to review for my Inside the Inkwell Blog.

  • Nada Sobhi

    Looking for Dei by David A. Willson is a quick-paced, elemental adventure with a cast of beautiful heroes.

    The novel opens with a monk kidnapping a scarred child, whom we later meet as 16-year-old Nara. The monk, Bilo, has raised her as his own but for years has kept her powers hidden for fear that those in power would find her and see

    Looking for Dei by David A. Willson is a quick-paced, elemental adventure with a cast of beautiful heroes.

    The novel opens with a monk kidnapping a scarred child, whom we later meet as 16-year-old Nara. The monk, Bilo, has raised her as his own but for years has kept her powers hidden for fear that those in power would find her and seek to use her for their own needs. This has made Nara even more curious about her abilities, some of which she understands and some of which she doesn't.

    When the novel opens, we learn that there is a ceremony to test children to see if they have gifts, such speed, strength, an ability to draw the life-force out of people and animals, and so on. However, we also learn that the town where Nara and Bilo, Dimmitt, has not seen any Gifted people in years, which has impoverished the town. Nara learns the reason for this and attempts to make things right. Only it puts her, Bilo, and her friend Mykel on the run for the rest of the book.

    As Looking for Dei progresses, we see another side of the story; Nara's twin, Kayna. As the chapters shift between the sisters, the reader begins to compare and contrast the two identical and features but far from identical in traits.

    From the beginning, the novel has an even-but-fast pace, with great visual and lots of action.

    I like how Willson brings in flashbacks of various characters, giving even evil characters the chance to shine and the reader the opportunity to discover why they act the way they do. At one point, the reader can sympathise with Minister of War Nikolas Vorick because of his background, even though his greed brings about the destruction of many.

    Worlds collide when Nara and her twin are reunited, igniting stark contrasts, especially has Nara has been poor most of her life, while Kayna had been living with the most powerful minister in the realm.

    One of the things I loved about Looking for Dei was the cover as it displayed an actual event in the novel and as it helped me imagine the main character Nara.

    Character development, although slow, is evident for Nara, Bilo, and Mykel. Each of the characters, even some of the supporting ones, develops in some way. I truly enjoyed the change I saw in each of them. Nara is often skeptical about herself and abilities and for good reason, she has not been trained; sometimes, she too naïve or kind, but then the goodness of her heart sets her apart from her twin and from all the characters in Looking for Dei.

    In terms of lines or imagery, there were a lot of powerful lines and scenes throughout the book. There were some parts I wish I could quote whole, but couldn't to avoid spoilers.

    When I was at around 90% of the novel, I could not grasp how the author will end his novel because I felt there was still a lot to. But the ending satisfied me. And I'm thankful for that.

    I'm not sure if Looking for Dei is a good title for the novel though.

    Although Looking for Dei is in a fantastical world and setting, I couldn't help but notice some Christian allusions in the novel. It could just be me, but I felt them more than once. It didn't affect my view of the book though.

    Overall, Looking for Dei by David A. Willson is an exciting and action-and-magic-packed must read full of adventure and characters to root for.

  • Tasha and Megan Mahoney

    Story: 4

    Narration: 5

    Overall: 4.5

    David A Willson is such a talent! Looking For Dei is a wonderfully written fantasy story that focuses on the lives of Nara, her wonderful adopted father and her best friend Mykel. Nara has magic. Most people that possess magical powers have one, extremely powerful people can have up to two but Nara has many and throughout the story she learns more about herself and her powers.

    There is a lot of world building within this book but it's done amazingly well, it is int

    Story: 4

    Narration: 5

    Overall: 4.5

    David A Willson is such a talent! Looking For Dei is a wonderfully written fantasy story that focuses on the lives of Nara, her wonderful adopted father and her best friend Mykel. Nara has magic. Most people that possess magical powers have one, extremely powerful people can have up to two but Nara has many and throughout the story she learns more about herself and her powers.

    There is a lot of world building within this book but it's done amazingly well, it is interwoven within the story-line. This is a fabulous story in it's own right but it is also an incredibly strong base for future stories to build upon. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. The story pace changes throughout the book but it's a natural ebb and flow and is necessary for the tale. Looking For Dei has left me impatient for more.

    I must confess that I didn't look at who the narrator was before I started listening to Looking For Dei. I actually did a little happy dance when the audiobook started and it was Tanya Eby narrating. (I have reviewed other books that she has narrated) She is without a doubt a very highly talented voice actor and her talents are perfectly showcased in Looking For Dei. The various characters were all clear and distinctive and she maintains a wonderful pace throughout. She conveys emotion, and intensity in her reading and is the perfect match for this outstanding work by David A Willson.

    I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by David A. Willson. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Josie Jaffrey

    This was a great YA novel. I was intrigued by the world that the author had created from the beginning; it was inventive and atmospheric. The magical runes did remind me somewhat of Cassandra Clare, but the way the author used them and the variety of the rest of the fantasy elements meant that the novel had originality.

    Nara was a good protagonist. She was believable and likeable, if a little wet at times. A varied and interesting cast supported her and I really liked the fact that the story wasn

    This was a great YA novel. I was intrigued by the world that the author had created from the beginning; it was inventive and atmospheric. The magical runes did remind me somewhat of Cassandra Clare, but the way the author used them and the variety of the rest of the fantasy elements meant that the novel had originality.

    Nara was a good protagonist. She was believable and likeable, if a little wet at times. A varied and interesting cast supported her and I really liked the fact that the story wasn’t all about Nara; it touched equally on those around her, their emotional challenges and development. Mykel was obviously the romantic lead from the beginning, however there wasn’t really any actual romance in the story, it was more to do with Nara’s realisation of her feelings, and I suspect the author is saving the development of their romance for book two.

    There is a faith element to the book, in that Nara is effectively searching for proof that Dei exists, and I was constantly worried that the book was going to focus on that and become preachy, but thankfully the author didn’t take it in this direction (for which I was eternally grateful!).

    I found the ‘one good twin, one evil twin’ a bit predictable and there were certain sections, the training and discovery of the cave in particular, which dragged for me. I felt that the author lost his way a little, going into too much detail where it just wasn’t needed. I also wasn’t keen on the author's repeated use of rhetorical questions; it was overused and made the story seem overly melodramatic.

    Overall, it was different, which I appreciate with a YA novel. I really enjoyed it and would be interested to see where the next book (assuming there is one) takes the characters. In particular I’m hoping that Nara will become stronger, in all senses of the word, as I think she has the potential to be an excellent lead.

    The good:

    I really liked the world that the author built and I thought the characters contrasted well.

    The bad:

    I found the pacing to be a little off at times.

    The Gin Book Club received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

  • Rebekah

    Looking for Dei was such a delicious YA high fantasy read!! The world and magic system were so incredibly unique, and the writing was beautiful! If you love high fantasy and any kind of magic, I know that you would really enjoy this book! It's one of those books that I feel is much too underrated for the quality of the fantastical world.

    The writing did not catch me from the very beginning, like a story should. But the writing was still great, and I definitely became more interested in the story

    Looking for Dei was such a delicious YA high fantasy read!! The world and magic system were so incredibly unique, and the writing was beautiful! If you love high fantasy and any kind of magic, I know that you would really enjoy this book! It's one of those books that I feel is much too underrated for the quality of the fantastical world.

    The writing did not catch me from the very beginning, like a story should. But the writing was still great, and I definitely became more interested in the story as it went on!

    This world is so genius! I love the symbolism of the gods and the "scriptures," which are like Greek mythology. The whole magic system with gifted young people was really unique, and I loved that element of the story. Learning about the world was probably my favorite part of the novel, which is really important for a fantasy novel in my opinion.

    The characters were also really great! And there were a lot of characters; it was almost too many in the beginning. But they all came together eventually, and everything made more sense. The characters were all rounded very well, and I loved their relationships with each other. 

    This whole novel was intricate and detailed, like a good high fantasy should be! I loved the world, writing, and characters. I highly recommend this book!

  • Alexis

    Looking for Dei is the story of a prophecy involving twins, and one of the twins is the main character. Nara is a teenage girl with secret abilities she is trying to hide from an annual tradition that exposes people with powers. Although Nara isn't discovered one of her friends is deemed to be cursed, causing her, a father figure, and her friend to all run away.

    One of my biggest issues with this book was the cliches. We had Nara, who was not like other girls. "Nara didn't fit in with the other g

    Looking for Dei is the story of a prophecy involving twins, and one of the twins is the main character. Nara is a teenage girl with secret abilities she is trying to hide from an annual tradition that exposes people with powers. Although Nara isn't discovered one of her friends is deemed to be cursed, causing her, a father figure, and her friend to all run away.

    One of my biggest issues with this book was the cliches. We had Nara, who was not like other girls. "Nara didn't fit in with the other girls, and she wondered what Mykel saw in her. She didn't look like the other girls either, with bright-red hair that others often commented on- hair that stood out in a crowd." (Location 138 from the kindle edition) Then alongside that her best friend Mykel was in love with her, but she didn't love him back. Also Nara was not a particularly strong lead until around the end of the book. She was fueled by her powers but she wasn't much of a fighter. All she really did was heal people.

    This book also contained a lot of information dumps where the author just wrote a character's entire story. From reading a few paragraphs I knew everything there was to know about Gwyn or Mykel because the information dumps covered everything. In the span of three paragraphs I knew how the characters looked and also their tragic backstories.

    When I started this book I was not expecting their to be more than one character's point of view. I think the element of getting more than one character's perspective really made this story more three dimensional. Willson wrote chapters from the perspective of both the protagonists and antagonists. The points of views changed without a certain order, which sort of bothered me because I was never sure what character I was about read about.

    The last thing I have to complain about is that there were several misspellings and typos in the arc copy I read, so I hope that these are all cleaned and polished before the book actually releases in the Spring.

    Now, onto the good stuff! Willson masterfully creating a aura around this book. I don't even know how to describe it, the entire book just felt unique and real. The characters were diverse and easy to tell apart from on another. Willson also came up and used some creative names for his characters, which was refreshing. Unique names without the pain of trying to figure out how to pronounce them.

    The book was a quick read that only took me a little over three hours of complete. I read almost all of it in one sitting than finished it up the next day. Quick reads are amazing, I love when I get can through a book without it taking a long time.

    I would like to thank NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sherry Fundin

    Looking for Dei by David A Wilson starts out with a childhood memory and I’m hoping that means good things are to come. But…the old man…

    Mykel and Nara are best friends. Would he like more? Maybe, but he is patient young man. With his scar, he feels inferior, but she doesn’t pay any attention to it. After all, her is bigger, though hidden.

    Bylo, her sort of father, loved her, raised her and helped keep her secret. He brought her to Dimmit to hide her, protect her. The announcement exposes them…I k

    Looking for Dei by David A Wilson starts out with a childhood memory and I’m hoping that means good things are to come. But…the old man…

    Mykel and Nara are best friends. Would he like more? Maybe, but he is patient young man. With his scar, he feels inferior, but she doesn’t pay any attention to it. After all, her is bigger, though hidden.

    Bylo, her sort of father, loved her, raised her and helped keep her secret. He brought her to Dimmit to hide her, protect her. The announcement exposes them…I knew that would happen, but now what. Is flight the only option? Leave everyone and everything they have ever known?

    Our journey has begun, and at twenty eight percent in my Kindle, I see the evil coming their way.

    When I first started reading Looking for Dei by David A Wilson, I wondered why I grabbed this ARC for review. Was it just the pretty cover? lol I am a sap for a pretty cover. As I began reading, I found out why. My curiosity and desire for Nara, Mykel and Bylo’s journey made me feel better.

    Betrayal won’t stop them, and sometimes things are not as they appear. People can and do change. And love…does it conquer all?

    Lots of action happening on many fronts. I wonder what will happen when all the characters come together. Will the bad characters stay bad? Is there no leeway for, at least, some of them to do the right thing?

    Looking for Dei by David A Wilson did not go the way I thought it would, but I did enjoy the story and the characters. Is there a happy ever after? I always want to think so. I got into the romance and magic, but I felt no sense of urgency, even when I knew danger was coming. If you are a reader of young love, magic, mystery and danger, this may be one for you.

    I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of Looking for Dei by David A Wilson.

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  • Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)

    I was on the promotional tour for this book!

    Looking for Dei is a YA Fantasy that involves magical gifts and what the consequences are, should things get out of hand. In Nara’s village, gifted youths is a thing of the past. But the mystery surrounds the area, as to why this has become the case. Nara decides that the right thing to do, is use her powers to uncover the mystery. But once events start happening, is her ideas suddenly out of control? It is a visual read, that was action-packed in ever

    I was on the promotional tour for this book!

    Looking for Dei is a YA Fantasy that involves magical gifts and what the consequences are, should things get out of hand. In Nara’s village, gifted youths is a thing of the past. But the mystery surrounds the area, as to why this has become the case. Nara decides that the right thing to do, is use her powers to uncover the mystery. But once events start happening, is her ideas suddenly out of control? It is a visual read, that was action-packed in every chapter. The novel’s strengths for me were the world-building and descriptions of the gifts that the various young people were discovered to have. The last couple of chapters as Nara is about to actively confront a scary nightmare, made the plotline extremely thrilling. I’m intrigued to see where the story goes next, after that cliffhanger! Recommended for those who like their fantasy with lots of magic, action and fast-paced dialogue!

  • Olivia-Savannah  Roach

    Looking for Dei was a book I was sent for review and I loved the cover. I loved the look of a powerful girl taking advantage of her powers, and I couldn’t wait to delve into a fantasy world and see what was in store for me. Although there were some elements to the book which I wasn’t too thrilled about, it still left me pretty excited for the rest of the series!

    One of my favourite things about this book had to be the world building and the magic system. I think the author did a great job of sett

    Looking for Dei was a book I was sent for review and I loved the cover. I loved the look of a powerful girl taking advantage of her powers, and I couldn’t wait to delve into a fantasy world and see what was in store for me. Although there were some elements to the book which I wasn’t too thrilled about, it still left me pretty excited for the rest of the series!

    One of my favourite things about this book had to be the world building and the magic system. I think the author did a great job of settling us into the world. We start in one city, but then characters begin to explore (and frankly, run for their lives,) and then we get to see a bit more. There’s also a switching point of view so you get to see the upper class and lower class. I especially liked that we got such a wide view of everything.

    As for the magic, that had to be the best part. Nara is powerful. Quite overwhelmingly so – even she feels it herself in this book and it makes her hesitant to take advantage of it. But while Nara has her special kind of magic, another magic comes into play. The usual magic some people are gifted with a kind of… man-made magic in a way? It involves runes, but that’s all I’ll say. I found it to be utterly realistic. If there was such a phenomenon as magic around, I’m sure humans would find a way to try and make a replica, or a man-made version, even if it wouldn’t be as perfect as natural magic.

    I also really liked how the themes of faith and religion are discretely woven into the novel. Before you let this be a turn off – it’s never very blatant. But Nara believes she is blessed with her powers for a higher purpose. She struggles, though, because regardless of what she does she doesn’t feel Dei’s powers or hears from him (the God in this world.) It kind of gave me Children of Blood and Bone feels for how it handled the theme of faith in relation to magic.

    Sadly, I think this book fell into first book syndrome. It happens quite a bit with fantasy series. You need to set up everything – the characters, the relationships, the beginning of an over-arching plot, a long-term villain, have the magic discovery and training montage. But then at the same time this book needs to be able to stand onto its own two feet. That last part is usually the bit that gets a bit rushed, and I felt the effects of it here in the novel. It doesn’t make it a bad book, but it means that the sequel will only be better.

    But it did lead me to find the book to bit of a slow read at times. Especially when it came to the training montage. I know we, as readers, need to have a grasp on how the characters can do what they can do. But I quickly got over the training and wanted to get back to the action. Switching points of view helped – we could bounce to the upper class and see what action was going on with them in between the slower bits – but it still dragged a little in the middle there.

    I liked most of the characters but didn’t really have any I loved. I was really excited to see Nara’s strength from the cover and because she has so much potential. But she also has so much doubt! It was fair enough because we all know great power comes with great burden and responsibility. I wish she was able to do a little bit more, but the ending hints that there might be more of her as a strong, butt-kicking lead in book two.

    I liked Gwyn because she was our grey area moral code character. She’s secondary but fairly developed and we get a bit of her point of view too.

    What was interesting about this book was that there was more than one villain! I can only really think of one or two books which have done this before when it comes to fantasy. I like that there are two threats to consider. One of them was a bit tame in this book, but I got the impression that they would have more of a negative impact in book two. I’ll have to wait and see!

    Relevance to today: This book does a good job of discussing what it means to take charge and be a leader. You’ll have power at your disposal, and even if you mean to use that power for nothing but good, it’s inevitable that there will be some hurt or some wrongdoings. The book really discusses whether this makes you a bad person, or if it’s inevitable, and when to know the difference. I really appreciated thinking about that. As so many of us are leaders in this day and age, whether that’s as an older sibling, parent, in the workplace, to your friends, online, it’s something to be mindful of.

    This review can originally be found on Olivia's Catastrophe:

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