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The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Libba Bray

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1,6011444,539 (3.98)56
Title:The Diviners
Authors:Libba Bray
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2012, Young Adult Literature

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The Diviners by Libba Bray (2012)


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Two springs ago Libba Bray wrote a blog post that lead me to comment that I would read anything that she wrote. By this time I had already read the Gemma trilogy and Going Bovine and I was already impressed with her ability to go from a magical 1800s setting to a modern, fantastical road trip and still be able to hold my imagination captive.

After finishing The Diviners, I thought back to that comment that I made so long ago, happy that I made it, because The Diviners only cemented that sentiment. The book is excellent; read it! I want to end the review right here, but I’ll elaborate on the “whys” that make it an excellent read.

The book is written with an omniscient point of view, but it follows a few central characters. Evie is the main character followed in this book, but the reader sees a lot of Memphis, Theta and Henry as well. In addition, some minor characters are also highlighted, but the focus was usually on these four.

Evie can hold an object in her hands and tell its history - the only downside is the migraine that she often experiences afterwards. The thing about Evie’s character is that she is very self-serving, often only watching out for her own needs, however, there is just enough compassion and kindness inside of her that I didn’t exactly dislike her (even though I didn’t necessarily like her). This sort of characterization is difficult to pull off and I thought that Libba did a spectacular job of making me genuinely root for Evie even though I didn’t often like her treatment of others - especially Mabel, who is suppose to be her best friend.

Memphis had a power but now he’s struggling to come to terms with the loss of his power, living with his aunt after his mother passed away, his brother, Isaiah, showing signs of strange power, as well and his aspiration towards being a poet. Henry and Theta and both seem to be hiding a a secret past and a special power of their own, we find out a few things about them, but overall they are still a mystery.

The setting is New York in the 1920s so there are many references to the slang and fashion of that time. I was a bit overwhelmed with the slang in the beginning, but after a while I got use to it. The great thing about the story is the fact that the paranormal element was woven into the real world in such a way that it almost felt possible.

The story opens up with a group of bored socialites who unwittingly release a malevolent spirit on the city. Around the same time, bodies start piling up around the city with some connection to the occult, so Evie’s uncle - curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult; aka The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies - is called in to assist with the investigation. This is the main storyline running through the novel, and we mainly follow Evie as she helps her uncle investigate.

The book is around six hundred pages; it took me a little while to get into the story (though less than fifty pages) but once I was in, I was so hooked I found myself reading slower and slower, wishing it wouldn’t come to an end. The characters are realistic and three dimensional - even with their special powers they are believable. I enjoyed reading Theta’s and Memphis’s characters a lot, I also enjoyed Henry and really hope that we get to see more of him in the future. I even found myself enjoying some of the minor characters, Jericho, Mabel, Isaiah and Uncle Will.

Overall the pacing was great, the start was a little bit on the slow side, but I loved that Libba took the time to introduce us to each character, with enough detail that I could almost see them as living and breathing people. I also loved that we were slowly dipped into the story, it added to the tension and the mystery as well as the scare factor - the story is a bit creepy, so creepy that there were parts that I refused to read before sleeping, and I’m not prone to nightmares!

The Diviners is little bit mystery, a whole lot of paranormal activity, a splash of romance, a good deal of scare and a lot of fun. There was a lot of set-up for the upcoming novels, and I cannot wait to see how they unfold! I can see myself re-reading this one soon; and then a few more times. Such an excellent and well written story! Hats off to you Libba Bray.

[review of ARC from BEA]
( )
  iShanella | Dec 2, 2016 |
I have read other books by libby bray...by far this was my favorite. Such an interesting story.... Characters that i grew to care for... More please!!! ( )
  pickleroad | Nov 10, 2016 |
I loved this book. The characters were amazing and so diversed. I really enjoyed reading all the different point of views. I felt like I had a wider view and understanding of the action. I really liked all the different stories that were going on in the background along side the main plot. There were some very good and creepy scenes. The romantic relationships were good. My only problem was with the way it ended. It left so many questions unanswered and I felt it was incomplete. But all in all it was a very interesting read! I loved Libba Bray's style of writing and I cant wait to read another of her books. ( )
  miss_booklion | Nov 6, 2016 |
It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, bootleggers and Ziegfeld girls. Because of unfortunate incident in her hometown, Evie O’Neill has been shipped to NYC 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. She is thrilled! Soon Evie and Will (a misfit group of others) and pulled into a seemingly occult based murders. As the story progresses it is evident that Evie has a special gift (as do some of her new friends) that enables her to see into the details of the crime by holding an object from the crime. This is the first book in a trilogy by Libba Bray. The premise is interesting but there are so many unanswered questions at the end (I assume because these will be answered in future books) I found myself incredibly frustrated. I loved the character of Evie and the description of the roaring 20s era—but wish there had been more information about this group of Diviners (guess I will just have to read the next book). Though I enjoyed this book—it was no Going Bovine (by Bray) which is one of my all time favorites. 3 ½ out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Aug 31, 2016 |
An Audio Sensation!! Libba Bray knocked it out of the park with The Diviners! It had it all- mystery, fantasy, historical fiction and the supernatural with a whole bunch of quirky and unique characters. The story was truly fantastic in itself but the audiobook really took it to another level! The narrator, January LaVoy was absolutely fabulous!!  It was the best narration I have heard in a long time. You won't hear a boring monotonous monologue with her. She literally transports you back to the 1920's and brings the characters and story to life.  I would definitely recommend listening to the audio version versus just reading the book if you want to get the full effect. I've seen some reviewers complain that the book was so long but it didn't feel that way listening to the audio. I was so entranced in the story that it went by fast for me. This was the first time I have read anything by Bray or heard LaVoy narrate but it won't be my last. They are both going on my favorites list. I just can't say enough good things about them. Lair of Dreams is the second book in the series and I've heard it's better then the first which is hard to imagine because The Diviners set the bar pretty high. It was incredible- a definite home run in my book! ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
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And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? - "The Second Coming," William Butler Yeats
For my mom, Nancy Bray, who taught me to love reading by example
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In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan's Upper East Side, every lamp blazes.
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Seventeen-year-old Evie O'Neill is thrilled when she is exiled from small-town Ohio to New York City in 1926, even when a rash of occult-based murders thrusts Evie and her uncle, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, into the thick of the investigation.… (more)

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