Amy's Reviews > The Diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray
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's review
Feb 14, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: oldies-still-goodies, ya-ya-ya, urban-fantasy, historisch
Read from August 16 to 21, 2012

Well that was fantastic. (And how!) The Diviners is really something else. This is historical fiction at its finest; this is storytelling just waiting to transport you wholly into a different era and let you live another life for some 600 pages.

You can tell Libba Bray really adores New York and all its glittering glamour and eccentricities, and she somehow manages to pen a love letter to her city while telling the story of several young men and women with unusual powers whose lives intertwine over the course of the book. The Roaring Twenties really comes to life as never before; as it never has in any other young adult novel in the history of young adult novels—the people, the parties, the slang, even the streets themselves reek of accuracy. Heck, it's all so well portrayed that they practically leap off the pages and attack you with the authenticity. I think. I didn't live in the Roaring Twenties; I wouldn't know, but from what I read, I think if I were ever magically transported back to the 1920's I'd be able to play hardball with the slang and fit right in, thanks to this here novel.

So, the story itself. The aforementioned descriptions of New York in the 1920's are so integral to the story, albeit not necessarily to the plot itself, that I find it hard to talk about this novel without inserting some praise or reference to the beautiful, rich New York of Bray's creation. And yet that aside, most of the main characters shine in their own separate ways—at least, I got a pretty good idea of what they're like and can easily develop affection or hate towards certain ones. Evie O'Neill, Miss Main Character, was for me someone rather hard to like, although she was certainly a character in her own right; a die-hard flapper, somewhat selfish, somewhat kind, charming and attention-seeking, rather funny at times and hiding a supernatural secret to boot. It was nice to see her grow throughout the story, since she starts off as one of those classic small town girls hoping to make it big in the city and throughout the course of the novel, becomes somewhat more mature and likable. The only problem I had was that I never truly connected with her as a person; the third person POV was just too distant for me to get into her head or really feel like I was involved in Evie's life. Theta was glamorous and secretive; I'm still suspicious about her role in a certain scene in the story involving the theatre and her being alone there at night but it didn't seem to crop up to anything, only my own paranoia probably. Henry is a dear but likely Bray's saving his spotlight for the sequels, which I am a-okay with. Memphis is interesting although his little brother Isaiah is insufferable; if I were Memphis, I've no idea how I'd put up with such a brat... Jericho errs rather unfortunately on the bland side despite the changes his character goes through, and while his backstory is certainly fascinating, I am not a happy camper in regards to certain aspects of the direction that the romance portion of his story is going. Mabel is Mabel is Mabel is Mabel; she's essentially Evie's foil and that's that and I hope that will change in the sequels since she's got some potential I do believe. And then there is Sam Lloyd, rakish pickpocket, chasing a secret and charming the socks off the reader—this reader, at least—as he does. I have such hopes for his character and storyline, oh boy.

This is a story with an ensemble cast, just the way I like it. I love those stories with the big, sprawling cast of characters all milling about on their own business, occasionally colliding and intertwining in their storylines in the most fascinating ways, rather Game of Thrones-style, if you will, where there's never just one main character around whom all other characters revolve and cater to, but instead a good handful who are all integral to the plot sooner or later, who might be best friends or fall in love or hate each other or sworn enemies turned allies. It makes a story so much more nuanced, the world so much more realized.

What I loved about The Diviners; I loved those pretty, precious details of various random things that Bray peppers throughout the story; I loved the gorgeous breathtaking interludes she occasionally takes to grandly depict the city and its hustle and bustle; I loved Sam Lloyd, rascal that he is; I loved the idea of the Diviners and the haunted house seemingly with a mind of its own.

It just seemed like despite that The Diviners was 600 pages or so long, the ending was still too rushed. Me, I didn't like the way the climax came about; for a story that was faring so well in character- and world-building, the climax seemed a bit of an ass-pull. Oh don't get me wrong, it was still a good suspenseful scene with just the right (although convenient) solution, but I thought the whole villain aspect could have been bigger and better—say, something on a much grander scale. Some characters and their abilities were woefully sidelined in the conclusion, given brief resolutions, ta da! and the end, etc., when in truth more attention could and should have been given to them. And while The Diviners doesn't end on any sort of a cliffhanger, there are still unanswered questions aplenty. I know it's just because Bray's saving them for the sequel, which I'm glad of, it's just that it didn't seem right to give them such a harried send-off for the span of who knows how many years it's going to take for Libba to churn out book two. I still remember the remarkably torturous wait for book 3 of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, The Sweet Far Thing, and I would rather that this wait not be like that one. I need my Diviners fix now, it seems.


Pre-reading, around May 2012
Honestly Libba Bray, how am I supposed to wait for September for this doozy? It's been a long, plodding five years for me since The Sweet Far Thing came out and I admit I've been Libba Bray-less since because I haven't gotten around to reading Going Bovine or Beauty Queens yet. I suppose I'm more of a fantasy girl and they just didn't make the cut.

The Diviners, however, oh boy. Is it everything I could have asked for or what?! Murder, mystery, glamour and intrigue, speakeasies, jazz, romance, spine-tingling horrors...everything I ever wanted and then some.

I see those pictures of the piles of ARCs you post on Twitter, I see the early reviews, and I'm fairly simmering with jealousy because I'd like this hot little number in my hands right now too. I mean, really!!! This is the Roaring Twenties we're talking about, glitzy glamorous New York in all its hazy smoke-and-glitter-filled glory. It's a good time to delve into the 1920's right now, what with it being the setting of both my favorite show—The Legend of Korra—and my favorite author Dennis Lehane's new novel, Live by Night. And of course the film version of The Great Gatsby that's coming out this winter.

So please, oh please, I beg of you...perhaps an excerpt to pass the many, many months away?

EDIT 5/22:
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Reading Progress

08/16/2012 page 21
3.0% "Thank my lucky stars and reading it now hurrah"
08/18/2012 page 128
21.0% "In love with every sentence"
08/21/2012 page 608
100.0% "Flawed, but wholly amazing."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Karina (new) - added it

Karina Give Beauty Queens a try, I found it very entertaining and witty.

message 2: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Going Bovine has a definite fantasy feel to it. I hesitated to read it at first as well, but ended up loving it easily as much as the Gemma Doyle books. Give it a try as well.

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