Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray + Giveaway
PROS:hilarious and bold main character; well done murder mystery; horror thrills; expert sub-plot juggling
CONS:one of the longest YA books EVAR, so clear some serious space in your life to read it (PS-TOTALLY worth it)
With her newest book, The Diviners, Libba wields her all the weapons in her authorial arsenal, creating a sprawling story with sparkling wit, glamour, and blood-curdling horror.
Libba Bray is a woman of many talents. She has the ablility to frighten us silly and make us sob uncontrollably (see her Gemma Doyle series), and she can also make us dissolve into a fit of giggles (see her award-winning Going Bovine and the hilarious and smart Beauty Queens).
With her newest book, The Diviners, Libba wields all the weapons in her authorial arsenal, creating a sprawling story with sparkling wit, glamour, and blood-curdling horror. The story is like Heroes meets The Beautiful and the Damned. We follow several New Yorkers across all walks of life, each of whom possesses a special supernatural gift. These “Diviners’” powers seem to be getting stronger, and so do ominous visions and dreams that warn of a coming storm. Something wicked is brewing, and the Diviners are at the center of it, whether they want to be or not.
At 608 pages, this book is certainly an investment of time compared to other YA fare. But it is pos-i-tute-ly worth it! Libba’s prose is beautiful and evocative, and her dialogue crackles with twenties slang and sass. The world she’s created is rich with social commentary on all manner of topics—racism, religious zealotry, political divisiveness, xenophobia, and local and federal government corruption—that are as relevant today as they were in the twenties. Even the writing that is not essential to moving the plot forward contains invaluable narrative jewels that serve to build the overall mood of the book.
This book is even more frightening and disturbing than any of Libba’s four Genma Doyle books (which gave me nightmares), and Evie and her fellow bright young things provide much comedic relief from the terror and gloom.
The Diviners is your kind of read if you like:
Hilarious Flapper Divas
The lingo, the attitude, the style, the big city dreams bursting out of small town gals—I love it all! These bob-wearing, lipstick and kohl’ed modern girls know how to make the most of the Big Apple, and it most often involves partying all night in forbidden speakeasies and smoky jazz clubs in Harlem and the Village.
Evie O’Neill is a total Sheba. Sassy and funny, daring and thrill-seeking, she is often told she is “too much.” Luckily NYC is big enough to handle “too much,” and she finds fast friends in Mabel, the daughter of two Socialist activists, Theta, a Ziegfield Follies girl, Henry, a piano player at Ziegfield, and Sam, a streetwise silvertongued pickpocket. It is a lot of fun to follow Evie in her never-ending quest for attention and excitement.
Horror Movie Grade Villains
The big bad villain at the center of this murder mystery is one of the most disturbing, frightening deranged psychos I’ve ever read about. He even has his own psycho funhouse lullaby theme song. Lights on, middle of the day reading only recommended for this one!
These Diviners have seriously cool abilities, and wouldn’t you know it—it puts them in seriously dangerous situations. It’s not just villainous murderers who want a piece of the Diviner action—there are a LOT of shadowy creepers throughout the book, just waiting to make use of this surge in powers. The central mystery in this first book doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the danger in store for these dolls and gents.
America is not the land of the free for everyone. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, religious extremism, and the conservatism of the older generations make even a forward-thinking city like NYC full of social and political tensions that threaten to bubble over into violence. The story doesn’t shy away from any of these topics, and presents many sides of the Roaring Twenties experience, from the doe eyed middle class girl gone wild to the Harlem trumpet player struggling to make an honest living to the homosexual musician who has to keep his personal life under wraps. It’s thought-provoking stuff for that era, and for ours.
Hot (But Chaste) Twenties Romance
I don’t want to spoil the fun by saying which romances were the cat’s pj’s, but there are several romantic sitches that are full of smoldering goodness. I’m sure these romances will continue to delight in the next installment.
Watch the Trailer:
This trailer may be the creepiest book trailer of 2012. (I mean, I know it’s not over yet. But the bar is set HIGH.)
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