Friday 24 May 2013

Review -- The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners (1)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 18 September 2012
Date Read: May 2013
Rating: ★★★☆

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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

The Diviners is not an easy book to review. It's not that it was amazing, although it was good, or that it was bad either. There was just so much in this whopper of a 600-something-page novel to think about and absorb. Boy, was it long. I had to give myself a pep talk when I started reading it, for crying out loud. And you can feel those 500-odd pages, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not.

One thing is for sure though. Bray can write. Third person omniscient is probably my favourite of all narratives. It just gives you such a wide view on the story, on the characters, on everything. You can just feel the plot and the story just coming together, all the little pieces being revealed. I had no idea what the pieces actually were or what the big picture was, but I could still feel it, you know? There was greater power at work.

The plot was centered on the rise of the Beast, and also the gradual rise of The Diviners. A cast of special teenagers are working to stop the coming of the Beast, because if he does, he'll bring the apocalypse with him. Raising the Beast requires sacrifices, bloody murders and I loved it. I loved the murderous religious zealot plot. Belief is a powerful, terrifying thing. It can drive people mad and what's scariest of all is that these people truly believe that their evilness is right and justified. It's everyone else that's wrong. Both sides are fighting hard for what they believe to be is right. And the thing is, its not just the Beast, or Naughty John, that has these radical beliefs. He has followers willing to do whatever it takes- hurt, burn, kill - to achieve ehat they believe is right.  
"Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ‘em off for a coupla stones."
There's something about a serial murderer just calmly humming a children's 'innocent' rhyme song while he's hacking off body parts of his victims. Actually, it's not just something. It's all of it that's creepy.

Another thing I love is the setting of The Diviners - the roaring 20s. I don't know much about that era, or have read many historical fictions but Bray's world-building is so rich that I was just so fully immersed into it. There was a ridiculous amount of 1920s colloquialisms that I was surprised I really enjoyed. They're teenagers, just like me, but it was so different that I didn't even know what they were talking about sometimes. It was really adorable though! "Oh, that's just the cat's particulars! Just pos-i-tute-ly jake" I'm sorry, but what? Is this how old people feel?

Oh, but the characters were unique and so very different from one another, like it is in reality. The story follows Evie, mainly, in her fight to stop the Beast. Evie is an attention-seeking, vapid, selfish girl. She's also sassy and quick-mouthed, and I kinda love for her that

"But what's as the point of living so quietly you made no noise at all? "Oh, Evie, you're too much," people said, and it wasn't complimentary. Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time.So why wasn't she ever enough?"

It's stuff like that that makes me fall in love with Evie's character but then she does something so idiotic, so screwed up, that I wonder what I saw in her in the first place. Whatever annoyances I have with her, her character is very well-established.
The narrative also jumped perspectives to a whole cast of other characters.  Sometimes, it switched perspectives so quickly and naturally that I didn't even realize it switched, you know? I can't even say that anyone was a  'minor' character because it didn't feel like that. Everyone had a backstory. Everyone. You'd think someone is insignificant in the scheme of things. That someone is just a friend, or just an accessory to the main characters, essentially. But no. You'll soon find out you are completely, madly wrong. It makes everyone feel like a real character, a real person, with their own personalitites, history, motivations. I loved the moments where you find out that a character was just hiding out in the corner, waiting to reveal their true identity and purpose until the very right time. It just excited me, to find out what their whole story is and how their decisions are going to play out.
The romance really took a backseat in The Diviners. It was casual and progressive, with none of those annoying YA tropes. There was a love triangle introduced later on in the book that took me by surprise, only because it seemed clear that a relationship was going to develop between two other characters. I don't even mind the love triangle though. I'm in it for the ride.
One last thing, the pace was really not for me in this novel. It took a while for me to get into the story. I started getting interested about 150 pages in but I suppose that's ok since that's, what? 25% of the novel. Sometimes, I just blitzed through it but then other times, I found it so slow that I ended up reading only a couple of pages before I had to put it down. Those were the moments that I felt the sheer size of this novel and it just depressed me that there was still so much to go.

I honestly haven't got a clue what will happen in the rest of the series. There's so many questions, strings left untied, characters to be developed. There's so many variables to even have an idea of what the next one will be about. I have no idea what will happen in the rest of the series but it excites the shit out of me.

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