Monday, 29 July 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 1st 2012
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

FINALLY! I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED THIS! I feel like I deserve a medal; The Diviners is nothing if not a marathon read, with almost 600 pages! As soon as I saw the US cover, I knew I needed to read it - but when I saw the UK cover, I absolutely fell in love. Although the book wasn't quite what I was expecting, I will stick by saying that the covers are utterly breathtaking - perhaps some of the best I have ever come across? I think this is a perfect example to not judge a book by its cover, because it can be misleading - for better or for worse.

The background to The Diviners is very complicated, and surrounds a lot of paranormal themes. With a party losing its spirit, a group of naive teenagers let loose a dangerous spirit from a ouija board, who begins to commit unspeakable murders in honour of a ritual. Evie O'Neill, alongside her Uncle Will, his assistant Jericho, and thief Sam, begin to search for the killer. However, catching him is trickier than it seems, and Evie begins to use her powers to catch glimpses of him from items of the deceased. Evie is a Diviner - a human with great powers, foretold by a seer deemed insane - and she is not the only one. As the murders became more frequent, speak of the illusive Diviners increases, and these special teenagers begin to be drawn to one another, readying themselves for a battle bigger than they know.

Yeah...not the best explanation going, but it is really intricate. And really, these 'Diviners' don't actually play a big part of the story - they're hinted at every now and then, but it's basically a murder mystery. Throughout this read, I consistently switched between boredom and being scared senseless - this is not a light read for night-time, folks! It's been sweltering hot lately in England, but I refused to keep the windows open as the breeze rustled the curtains and made me break out in goosebumps! So from the perspective of how the book made the reader react, it was good. However, the rest of it? Not so much.

Firstly, the characters were dull and a lot of them unnecessary. Evie was pretty good, and definitely one of my favourite narratives, but at times was incredibly selfish and annoying - especially with her blimmin' 'pos-i-tute-ly's. Memphis was boring and probably the most unnecessary of them all - every Memphis chapter made me yawn with weariness, and I couldn't wait for them to be over. Actually, the same can be said for Isaiah, Sam, Miss Addie, Miss Lillian, Blind Bill Johnson, Miss Margaret, James, Jericho, Theta - oh look, basically the majority of the characters in the book (though I did love Theta and Henry - best. duo. ever!)

There were all these different storylines, and each was even less necessary than the last. It was like they were just used as fillers to bulk up the book - well, that combined with Bray's overuse of descriptive language. Don't get me wrong, I like scenes to be set up well so they create an image in my head - but after a while, I just grew tired of it all, especially at the end. The story was over, it was done, but Bray insisted on creating some meaningless cliffhangers in anticipation for the sequel. I mean, she started going on about some guy in a stovepipe hat - why? Why? There was absolutely no need for that, along with some guy gutting a cat. The ending grew from good to borderline ridiculous, and instead of wanting to read the next book, I was highly put off.

I think Bray just ended up being a bit confused about this book - it was branded as a YA novel, so she shoved in some "romance" here and there (romance that had even less chemistry than two slices of bread); however, it was also historical, so every other word was "jake" and "Sheba"; then it was paranormal, so suddenly a character would have some magical powers; but it was also a mystery, so throw in a bunch of confusing "plot twists"; and then it was a horror, so add in a creepy song and an even creepier villain.

I guess I could rave about the good things about this book - the plot idea was initially good, the 1920's theme was interesting...but all I can really concentrate on is how disappointing it was! A good ending to a book needs answers to questions and not more mysteries, so I was left really infuriated.  It is definitely a book you can sink your teeth into, but it is very slow to start and about 300-odd pages would be better left out. Add all this together, and I was just relived to have finished it all. The cover was great and loads of reviewers have given it five-star ratings, but I really didn't enjoy it. I'm going to attempt another one of Bray's books, but definitely not the second Diviners book - that one has already been added to the 'will never read' shelf.
Rating: 2/5


  1. I agree The Diviners is one thick book. I was planning to pick it up, but it seemed like a handful for me. Thanks for the honest review!

    Holly @ Absorbing the Content

    1. It is a bit of a handful, I must admit. I mean, I like large books - heck, I adored A Game of Thrones - but this was just too slow to work.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book but I just can't get into long drawn out books these days. Great review!

    1. I can, but only if they're done well! Loads of people liked this, but it just missed the mark for me.

  3. I've been really looking forward to reading this book, but I just haven't picked it up yet.....I even own it, but it is really big and it kind of scares me! I really enjoyed Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series and I was hoping I would love this one as well, but from the reviews I've seen I'm not to sure anymore....And you're right both covers are AMAZING! They look sooo pretty and mysterious!
    Great review and with any luck I'll like this book more than you did! :)

    1. It's unfortunate to say that the best bit about the book is the covers :/ It does feel like a bit of an achievement, finishing this, and I guess part of me is glad I've read it (now I know for myself what all the fuss was about) but I don't want to read the sequel.