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The Diviners by Libba Bray
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The Diviners (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Libba Bray

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1,6421464,393 (3.97)56
Member:readerspeak
Title:The Diviners
Authors:Libba Bray
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:fiction, teen fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction

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The Diviners by Libba Bray (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
I was a bit torn between one and two stars for this novel but I decided to be generous. Just...

I was curious about this novel due to the time period in which it's set as the Victorian era is popular with paranormal writers, but I'd never seen anything set in Manhattan during the Roaring Twenties. And, to be fair, Bray did a great job of recreating the feel of this time, from prohibition to ingrained racism towards anyone who wasn't white American. The novel is bright and stylish, successfully illustrating how America treated characters of all classes during this period.

However, the novel was made hard to read by it's horribly slow pacing. Seriously, at times it was like wading through treacle. At 578 pages, this book is horribly long for a young adult novel and I think that at least 150 of those pages could have been trimmed in order to better streamline the tale. The novel focuses on a cast that is far too large, taking too much time in fleshing out insignificant side characters and following Evie on nighttime jaunts to speakeasies. The first corpse isn't discovered until 100 pages into the story and after this, the story doesn't truly focus on the murder investigation until its final act.

The supernatural elements of the plot were very varied. Naughty John is very frightening, with a sinister plan and creepy method of carrying it out. However, I wish there had been more focus on The Diviners. Virtually everyone in this story had some sort of special "gift", however these weren't really developed at all. I wish that more time had been spent fleshing these out and explaining exactly how they worked and what the consequences of abusing them were.

The plot also didn't really feel complete. While the Naughty John story was wrapped up in this book, it left a hell of a lot of loose threads hanging. The novel had several subplots, each following a different Diviner, and only Evie's reached any sort of resolution. The rest...just didn't amount to anything. I spent most of the book waiting for Memphis is particular to join up with Evie's group but it never happened. I assume that the author is saving them for a future book, but including them in this one at all just bogged things down.

In terms of cast, they're also a bit of mixed bag. I can't decide whether or not I actually like Evie. She's headstrong and able to take care of herself, yet she's also incredibly naive and only ever thinks of herself. I also didn't really like all her "flapper speak". This never stops in the novel and really started to grate on my nerve-skis after a while.

In terms of the rest of the huge cast, some made more of an impression than others. I liked Jericho and his growing attraction to Evie seemed very realistic, however I'm concerned about the direction the impending love trapezium between Evie, Mabel, Sam and Jericho will head in the next story. Few of the other characters left as much of an impression. While Memphis and Theta were amusing enough, they didn't leave much of an impression on the story and Henry, despite being the story's only gay character, was entirely pushed to the side after a while.

All in all, I was disappointed. The novel felt too long and unpolished, and had such a large cast that they drew focus away from the story. I might look at the sequel at some point to see if the writing improves, but I'm not in any great hurry to do so. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Jan 23, 2017 |
3,5 stars, but let's round it up to 4. This book is called The Diviners, and although you do know who they are, they don't really do anything and they never get together! They keep being the separated entities they were before the start of the book. I feel like this was just an introductory chapter to the rest of the story - even the murders appear not to be really solved - so everything is just presented to you, they tell you that something is going to happen, someday, probably someday soon, but not now. This makes me very interested in reading the second book, but leaves me feeling a bit cheated with the first one.
However, I did enjoy getting to know all these different characters (even if they never really get together), I loved to know a little more about New York City all those years ago and I'm really looking forward to read the second book, so I'm very glad I picked up this book. ( )
  Danyspike | Jan 13, 2017 |
Evie is sent to stay with her Uncle Will in New York City as a punishment for outrageous behavior in her boring small town. Nothing could be further from punishing for attention-seeking Evie. Though Uncle Will seems rather boring, he curates a museum of creepy artifacts which gets him involved in the investigation of a murderer who leaves behind pseudo-religious or occult markings. Young Evie certainly didn't intend to reveal her ability to divine a person's history by holding an object of theirs but her unwelcome, unusual skill may prove vital in catching a killer. What Evie doesn't know is that she's posi-tute-ly surrounded by others with special powers -- and they all have a sense of impending doom. But can they figure out what's behind the gruesome murders and prevent whatever is coming? Bray's depiction of the period through the eyes of a "bright young thing" is spot on and adds levity to the dark, ominous plot. The book is overly long but solidly entertaining. The audiobook narration was weak, especially in terms of male voices, and several elements of the plot are left hanging for a sequel. Suitable for older teens but some parents will balk at the abuse of alcohol and the anti-religious theme that runs through the story. ( )
  bookappeal | Jan 6, 2017 |
Evie wants more...more excitement, more fun, more adventure, and she definitely doesn't find it in Ohio. One incident though, will change her life,
Evie is sent to New York City - land of the speakeasies, Ziegfield Follies, flapper girl fashion paradise, and NO parents. She is living with her eccentric uncle Will. With Evie's arrival, a mass murderer has taken over the city, and when the police ask her Uncle Will to help, Evie and her gift become more important than ever. Evie is a Diviner! ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
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 |
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Epigraph
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? - "The Second Coming," William Butler Yeats
Dedication
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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