Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Let me just warn you now: this book is guaranteed to give you the heebie jeebies. Seriously. I was lying in bed last night in the dark and had to force myself to think of other, less creepy things. I usually don't ever watch scary movies, and though reading scary books isn't as visual, it definitely leaves more to the imagination. "The Diviners" by Libba Bray was released last month, but I'm almost glad that I saved it until now, since it definitely set the mood for Halloween next week. I guess I shoulda known, especially after I read the "Gemma Doyle" trilogy by Ms. Bray a couple years back. But after I skimmed through the blurb, I didn't even think that this book would be that scary--and hooey, was I wrong.

Seventeen-year old Evie O'Neill has always been more than a little wild. So when she's shipped off to New York City to stay with her uncle Will from her boring home at Ohio, she is posi-tute-ly thrilled. The city is the place of speakeasies, shopping, parties, theaters--every glamorous thing that Evie could ever think of. However, the bright lights of the bustling city mask an unspeakable danger. When a string of gruesome occult-based murders comes to light, Evie finds herself pulled into the thick of the mystery. What the others don't know is that Evie is hiding her own secret: a power that could help find the murderer--if he doesn't catch her first.

The language in "The Diviners" is just beautiful. I remember reading the opening chapter and being moved by the words and sentences. I could really picture the setting and could feel the buzzing excitement of the inhabitants of the 'golden city of the future'. I loved the early 1900's lingo used; it gave me a vivid sense of the times, and I really felt like I was in New York then and there with Evie and her pals. It's the cat's meow! At times, though, the descriptions were a little excessive--I found myself glossing over the wordy sentences to get to the dialogue and the action. I get that Ms. Bray's hold over language is really, really great, but scaling it down in some parts might have helped the already high-strung plot.

Speaking of plot, "The Diviners" is definitely one book that sucks you in and won't spit you back out. My heart literally raced as I flipped through the pages. I particularly devoured every word of the parts about Naughty John, the established bad guy (not a spoiler, so don't worry!), as he staked out and murdered his victims, as gruesome as that sounds. You get that tight feeling in your heart as you think "no no no no no no", right up to the point when it happens. And then you stare at the page at the end of the chapter and replay the horrible scene in your mind. Yup, it's that compelling. Even better (yes, there's more!) are the twists and turns that Ms. Bray uses to masterfully manipulate her readers. I remember getting to a twist and thinking, "Oh my, she's done it again!" It really lends to an incredibly heart-stopping roller coaster ride, trust me.

I really liked the diverse range of characters as well. You had the bubbly, attention-loving Evie; meek, gentle Mabel; coy, wolfish Sam; reserved, stoic Jericho; seductive, troubled Theta; charming, likable Memphis... and so many more! I loved being in each of their heads--they were all intriguing and believable. On the other hand, there seemed to be so many jumping around in between different people's perspectives that it got a little jarring. Of course, the main focus stayed on Evie, but I think there was a little too much focus on Memphis in the beginning and I just feel like some aspects of the story, such as the romance between Memphis and Theta, would be a lot more realistic if we'd seen more of them in that portion of the book. Despite this, however, I really enjoyed being with this cast of characters--very, very fun to be with.

I highly, highly recommend "The Diviners", even to those who usually don't enjoy getting the bajeesus scared out of them. It's incredibly well-written, with diverse, amazing characters and a heart-racing plot that made it extremely difficult to put the book down. True, it's a little long, but it's an enjoyable ride the whole way.

Rating: 5/5

Also, check out the trailer! I found it while I was somewhere toward the beginning/middle of the book, and it really gave me the chills. Evie also looks just the way I thought she would!

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