Friday, November 23, 2012

[Review] The Diviners (#1) by Libba Bray

Australian cover
The Diviners

(#1, The Diviners)
The Diviners |

Libba Bray
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 29/10/2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 578
Source: For review

Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating:
Posi-tute-ly charming!

My thoughts

Note: This review is over 1000 words and for that I have highlighted the important bits. I suppose I had a lot to say. I have never written so much for a review before!

I just couldn't get enough of The Diviners! Despite the intimidating page count, I jumped right in and there was never a dull moment. There's a whole world to explore in this book—every scene, every page breathes with life. Libba Bray really doesn't skimp on the details, but rather than damping down the story, the extra paragraphs of description brought so much more to it. I felt like I was there. While I was reading this book it was difficult to differentiate between the world that Bray had created, and my own. I was lost in the bright lights of NYC and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to get away from it all.

Evie O’Neill is special. She can touch others’ possessions and see into that person’s past. One summer evening, Evie uses this gift as a way of astonishing her friends at a party. When she ends up revealing a dark secret, her small hometown of Zenith Ohio starts to talk and she is exiled to New York to live with her stuffy uncle, owner of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult.

Evie rediscovers herself in the bustling city of New York. Everything is a new opportunity, a gained experience, a chance for bigger and better things to come. However, from the day that a girl is discovered having been brutally murdered and marked with mysterious symbols, and Evie touches the girl’s shoe buckle and sees something that could be the key to the case, she doesn’t think she can keep quiet or stay away from the investigation. And then more people end up being killed in a similar way, and she knows she must get to the bottom of things.
Note: In true Libba Bray fashion, we also have the perspectives of several other characters, who both stand on their own but are integral to Evie’s story. I won’t go through their different story arcs, since I only wanted to include what’s revealed in the blurb of the book. Seriously, I recommend anyone to just start reading this book BLIND. As in, don’t read the blurb or reviews or anything that might give away any of the story.

Evie’s got a lot of moxie, there’s no doubt about that. She’s gutsy to a fault, where she sometimes gets herself into bad situations because of her boldness. It was hard not to engage with her character; even when she did do something completely reckless it was easy to forgive her just because of who she is presented to us as. I wouldn’t say she’s one of my favourite characters, because she doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to her: ultimately, she’s just looking to have a good time.

I actually cannot pinpoint my one favourite character from this book. I feel like they have the potential to grow on me even more as the series progresses. With The Diviners we’ve only just skimmed the surface and I personally want to know more and more about them.

There’s a bit of romance-y stuff in The Diviners, which is probably expected considering it’s a historical (1920s NYC no less) crossed with paranormal (hometown of romance). There’s a very cinematic quality to the way that the romances are presented. I could very easily see the scenes play out in my mind. Not just that, the relationships progressed relatively slowly and realistically, much to my delight. All you need to know is Evie has the option of two guys: Sam or Jericho. For the majority of the book I preferred Sam, just because of the circumstances surrounding Jericho, but by the end I thought there was more heart in their possible relationship. There is also some romantic tension between two of the surrounding characters which I strongly approve of.

While we’re on the topic of love, there’s also another kind of love explored in The Diviners—the love shared by family and friends. There’s the kind that felt familiar to me (the friendship between Evie and her NYC pen-pal Mabel), as well as the bonds that are formed between brothers (Memphis and Isaiah) and relatives (Evie and her uncle).

The Diviners is a heavy book, and I mean that both literally (+500 pages, guys) and figuratively. This NYC that Libba Bray has imagined is not a safe place to be. The main plot unfurls at an achingly steady pace. You’ll want to know more about what is causing all these murders, more about the Diviners, more about Evie and all the characters. I read a good chunk of this book at night-time, which put me at a little unease. There’s definitely some spook-factor in this book; leading up to the climax you won’t be able to keep your eyes off the pages because everything becomes epic and frightening and almost end-of-worldly. And because you have time to know the characters, you’ll end up caring what happens to them.

Libba Bray is a self-acclaimed research nerd, and it really shows in The Diviners. She included 20s slang words, she included minor details about the historical happenings of that time. I just loved the way this book was written. It’s in several perspectives, third-person narrative. And I think it’s important that this book was written with a bit of a reprieve from the main plot because it does have down-time and allows the reader to process the progression of the sinister and nearing evil entity’s appearance. Personally, I felt the pacing was well done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if fans of action and faster-paced books could not make it to the end of The Diviners.

In The Diviners, Libba Bray reaches success in crafting a tantalising world shrouded in mystery and intrigue--you'll have no choice but to read on and go along for the ride. This first book in a new series is a seductive mash-up of roaring 20s New York and the supernatural. Brimming with characters that carry the very essence of life in the 20s and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, The Diviners is a 2012 YA release not to be missed!


First lines:
In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhatten's Upper East Side, every lamp blazes. There's a party going on--the last of the summer. Out on the terrace overlooking Manhatten's incandescent skyline, the orchestra takes a much needed break. It's ten thirty. The party has been on since eight o'clock, and aleady the guests are bored. Fashionable debutantes in pastel chiffon party dresses wilt into leather club chairs like frosted petit fours melting under the July sun. A cocky Princeton sophomore wants his friends to head down to Greenwich Village with him, to a speakeasy he heard about from a friend of a friend."


     "The Lord will brook no weakness in his chosen," the boy shouted, and something broke inside Evie. Her fear turned to anger. She glared at the smug, triumphant boy who would burn the whole world in order to be right. She spat in his eye.
     "Then that son of a bitch will really like me," she growled.

(p. 492 - the only instance I can recall a 'swear' word.)

Above is the Australian trailer (Allen & Unwin). I actually prefer the US version--it truly depicts the horror that is this book. There are also many video features on Youtube. It's so worth checking out. I absolutely loved watching them myself. :)


AUSTRALIA: Big W | Angus & Robertson

 Amazon | Book Depository


I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

PS. I'm part of the The Diviners book tour, which may or may not be already in operation right. now. I actually still need to think of questions for an interview. If there's anything you want to ask, leave a comment below!

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