Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 578 pages
Original Publishing Date: September 18th, 2012
Series: The Diviners #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Main characters: 4/5

Evie, a spunky and spontaneous girl, is a great main character for The Diviners. It seems like we don't have an outgoing and popular female main character/narrator in YA novels very much, but Evie is just that. It was refreshing to have such a loud-mouthed character, even if it sometimes got her into trouble. Evie is not entirely likeable; she makes mistakes, she sticks her foot in her mouth, and she does dumb things. But she is passionate and vivacious and serves as a great main character.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Bray sculpted a well-rounded mix of secondary characters: Jericho, Sam, Theta, Memphis and Uncle Will. All of them had intriguing back stories and fascinating development that I appreciated. The antagonist, Naughty John, had a name that made me chuckle, but he actually turned out to be a creepy villain. Very creepy. Props on bringing the scare factor.

Writing style: 4.5/5

Overall, I was a fan of Bray's writing style. This novel is a MONSTER (more to come on that later, because that's not necessarily a good thing) but Bray's writing moved surprisingly quickly. There were the necessary action sections and the descriptions were spot on. Moreover, her writing was intensely evocative: I was entirely in the time period and never got jarred out of it by anachronisms. Obviously, I'm not up on 1920s slang, but some of it seemed a little over-the-top. Did people actually speak like that?

Plot: 4.5/5 
This was a surprising concept after reading Bray's Beauty Queens. I understand that this is more down Bray's alley than the former, but this was a breath of fresh air. I'm not normally a huge fan of historical fiction, nor the 1920s, but I absolutely loved the premise of this novel. The 1920s setting is perfect for the plot and the murder mystery aspect is fascinating. I love the connection between religion and magic.The connections between the Diviners was cool to see unfurl and I loved the variety of different stories.

Some of the parts I didn't like? Bray introduced these great characters and started making connections between them, but they weren't connected to the mystery and main conflict really at all. It seemed like Memphis and Theta were mostly doing their own things, unconnected from Evie and the murders. And yes, while Bray was able to make the novel move pretty quickly, did it really need to be that long?

Ending: 3.5/5

Great conclusion to the main conflict, but obviously a set-up for further sequels. I mentioned that many characters were introduced with little connection to the plot, which seemed like just a huge cliffhanger for the next book. After this thick tome, it's always a little disappointing to find out that it's part of a series.

Best scene: Evie entering Naughty John's house for the first time

Reminded Me Of: The Great Gatsby meets The Name of the Star

Positives: Fascinating and well-developed characters, concept, writing & pacing

Negatives: Missed connection between secondary characters and the main conflict (and the general feel that this was simply a build-up for sequels), too long

Cover: So gorgeous, I really love this cover. The font is beautiful, the front image is mysterious and interesting, and the background fits the scene perfectly.

Verdict:  Awesome concept and combination of genres

Rating:  8.4 / 10 (5 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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