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The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

BookTalk: “Divine Rivals”

Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Rebecca Rosss popular Divine Rivals. Its rivals-to-lovers romance, impending war and unique writing set the bar for her first book of the year.
photo by Faith Walsh
Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Rebecca Ross’s popular “Divine Rivals.” Its rivals-to-lovers romance, impending war and unique writing set the bar for her first book of the year.

As the official first book I have read this year, “Divine Rivals” has set the bar. Rebecca Ross not only set the book in a time of war but added gods and mythology into the mix, making the book all the more unique.

Iris Winnow, our protagonist, is a journalist forced to quit school to provide for her family when her mother turns to alcohol and her brother runs to the war. But her hopes to win a column spot are stolen by her aristocratic and snobby rival, Roman Kitt. As Iris tries to find her brother, her escapade takes her to the front lines of this godly war. And when she tries to write to her brother, her letters magically end up in the hands of someone she finds to be a new confidant, but little does she know it is Roman that she is finding solace in. 

The character writing in this book is some of the best I have read. Iris has a sense of strength that I wish I would see more in female characters, but she also has this vulnerability that makes her human and relatable. Then Roman, the rival-turned-companion, goes against all your initial impressions of him. He has this heart of strong compassion and courage hidden beneath his veneer of rivalry. His character development was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Seeing him go from this pompous rich boy to a passionate, brave and caring person resonates with the reader and leaves you wanting to uncover more of his story in the sequel.

I love the words I write until I soon realize how much I hate them, as if I am destined to always be at war within myself.

— Rebecca Ross, Divine Rivals

Their connection reminds me of a decade-old love story, like a black and white picture you’d find in a dusty photo album. Their typewriter-written letters, the rush to enjoy life as much as people can, and the harsh background of war all set the tone. I also find it so romantic that Roman has always admired and liked Iris from afar, while she holds a strong dislike for him from the get-go.

Ross has such a way of writing; it’s not like most books I’ve read before, and this really shines through her world-building. It felt so unique even when she was using the classic writing of tales and myths. And as a huge fan of “Percy Jackson,” I’m a sucker for any mythology in books. So, I hope to see more of the mythology in the second book, “Ruthless Vows,” released on Dec. 26, 2023.

You are worthy of love. You are worthy to feel joy right now, even in the darkness.

— Rebecca Ross, Divine Rivals

However, I did find that the magic in this world was very contradictory to itself. There were some parts of everyday life that were enchanted but then parts that weren’t. How are the shelves at the nearby convenience store enchanted, but the journalism offices aren’t able to get a coffee pot that magically refills itself? Also, the gods (that are mentioned very early on in the book so they aren’t really a secret) are creating this entire war, yet not everyone believes they exist? Sometimes, it all just came across as disorganized, with too many technicalities that were never really addressed. 

While researching about this book before I actually started to read it, I was warned about the ending by people saying they were in tears by the last page. And it’s safe to say they were absolutely right; the ending did rip my heart out with how intense it was and the overall fact of the book ending with a cliffhanger. I feel lucky knowing I can dive right into the next book.

Despite some minor issues with this book, I’ll still recommend it to everyone I know. If you love a good old fantasy rivals-to-lovers romance with high stakes, then “Divine Rivals” is the next book for you.

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Navarro
Gabriella Navarro, Features Editor
Gabriella Navarro is a junior at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. She enjoys reading, hanging out with her friends, and listening to Taylor Swift.
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