Review: The Diviners
Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Year Published: 2012
Format: Hardback, library book.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Similar Reads/Recommendations: The Name of the Star (Maureen Johnson), Anna Dressed in Blood (Kendare Blake), The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater).
Summary: Evie O’Neill is a party girl, trying to live it up in Ohio during the Roaring 20’s. Drinking and her unique “party trick” (aka her supernatural abilities) help her forget her brother, who died during World War I and her overbearing parents. However, one night, she takes her little “trick” too far, and is shipped off to New York City to live with her bachelor uncle.
Evie is thrilled to be in NYC. She’s surrounded by speakeasies, flappers, and plenty of exciting adventures. It’s enough to make living with her uncle and his occult obsession bearable. However, the party comes to a stop when the police find the body of a murdered girl and recruit Uncle Will for help with the case. Evie does not want her gift to be discovered, but she knows she’ll need it to help her uncle solve this mystery and catch a killer.
Meanwhile, Sam Lloyd, a determined pickpocket is busy with his own secrets as he tries to woo Evie. Jericho serves as an assistant to Uncle Will, but has his own dark secrets that he is determined to keep hidden. Memphis, a young African-American man, wants to keep his brother safe but struggles with his own past. Finally, Theta Knight is on the run from her former life, hoping to make it big in the city that never sleeps. While they all have their own motives and issues, these characters will be brought together through the actions of a serial killer and their own abilities.
Wowwwww. I liked this! What a great pick for The Book Buddies! Who knew bookclub books could be so fun?
While The Diviners is a bit daunting at 578 pages with different character perspectives every chapter, it is definitely a book worth reading! Bray has clearly done her research, making this a fantastic historical/supernatural read. Racial tensions, radical religion, post-war, family, and life in the 20’s are just a few things that stand out in this book that is quite filled to the brim with information. Personally, I did not feel that there was information-overload, but I really enjoy history, especially when it is well-researched, so I was happy to read through paragraphs of information.
The supernatural element was fun and wonderfully creepy. Bray paints such a clear picture that it’s impossible to read this book without having chills race down your spine. The murderer spooked me, and the grisly descriptions only adding to the fright.
In regards to characters, Evie could be a bit difficult to like. She felt like a cut out of what a stereotypical 20’s girl would be. However, she proved to have a bit more depth, although her mind was constantly on parties and other, more shallow, endeavors. I’ve seen reviewers criticize that Evie was a ditz and not a real heroine. While I agree that she could be ditzy and a bit melodramatic and annoying, she was who she was. Who says every female lead has to have a one track mind on the task? Who says they always have to be brave? I thought Evie was more balanced than other people gave her credit for. Aside from the 20’s lingo, she felt pretty real. She’s a 17 year old girl in New York City for the first time. Trust me, leaving Ohio to go anywhere can make someone a bit excitable. Overall, I found her much more enjoyable that Celeana/Aelin/Fireheart/Whatever from the Throne of Glass series. That is one heroine I cannot stand…. but that’s a rant for a later day.
When I realized how many characters this book had and that it alternated chapter perspectives constantly, I was worried that I would get people and events mixed up. This was not the case. All of the characters are their own people with their own stories. I found myself eager to read all of their perspectives, not just one or two. Bray did a good job of writing out each character to have their own purpose. Although this book did a great deal of world-building, it still provided an entertaining, funny, haunting, and sometimes somber story.
I’ll end with a final thought because I saw a few reviewers discussing it. Religion. It’s a touchy subject anywhere and anytime. Some people felt that Christianity was painted in a very poor light in this book, as radical religion/occult was a very prominent theme and darker parts Bible were quoted. I’m Catholic. Personally, I found the Bible quotations and the theme of “The End of Days” to be an interesting and very scary part of the story. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to the end of high school. I’ve read my fair share of the Bible, and you know what? There are some scary parts, and there are some people in this world who can and will twist these scarier parts to meet their agenda and scare other people. The killer was already terrifying, but the addition of radical religion and devoted followers added another layer of terror that kept me on my toes.
Also, the relationship Memphis has with religion (frustration, confusion, and doubt) versus his aunt Octavia (devout, trusting, and unwavering).
That was almost difficult to read because it reminds me quite a bit of how my mom (devout) and I (uncertain) differently view religion.
Really, I thought Bray’s perspective was interesting. However, I’m just one person. If the religion aspect was upsetting to you in any way, I am not dismissing that. It’s a book, which means it’s open to interpretation. Read it and interpret it as you see fit.
Will I continue on with this series?
Yes, yes, yes!
What do I hope to see?
I’d love to get more chapters from Memphis. I really liked his character, and I’m curious to see what he will do to keep his brother safe. I’m also interested in his relationship with another character (who will not be named because, spoilers!). While I know many people are excited over Sam and Jericho (don’t get me wrong, I am!), I’m really interesting in learning more about Memphis. I this he is really impacted by what happens in this book, even though he has fewer chapters than Evie and friends.
I would also like to see more of Evie going through the grieving process of losing her brother. It’s been a few years in the first book since she found out he was killed, but she dreams of him constantly. I wonder if she will continue to dream of him, and if she will attempt to make further contact with him.
What am I hoping not to see?
I’m worried about a potential love triangle. The first book has hinted at two possible relationships, and truthfully, I’m not sure this series really needs a love interest to work. But maybe I’m wrong.
Anyway, I definitely recommend this book! It’s not a quick, easy read, but it is definitely worth your attention!
Have you read The Diviners? Tell me what you think!