There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
The Diviners by Libba Bray
About the book:
It’s the 1926, age of jazz and speakeasies, and Evie O’Neill is thrilled when her parents decide to punish her by sending her away to live with her Uncle in New York. Evie isn’t quite what she seems, and that’s lucky because no-one else she encounters is either. Not everything is copacetic in New York and if she can’t get to the bottom of a series of gruesome murders, nothing will ever be the same again.
What I liked:
There was a lot to like in this book. The plot was great and Naughty John was genuinely scary. It’s technically a book for teenagers, but I never really felt that there was any reason for it not to be a book for adults too and there were a couple of scenes that I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to read alone in the dark.
Libba Bray has filled this story will some great, well-rounded characters. I particularly liked Memphis, Theta and Henry, but there were no characters that I would point to as being weak or unnecessary.
The world building was great too. The book really feels 1920s somehow, complete with all the politics of the period from the bright young things to the protests and racism of the time.
I loved the feeling in this story that no-one is quite trustworthy or quite what they seem to be. You would think you had someone pegged only for them to leave you guessing again.
Things I didn’t like:
This is very obviously the first in a series of books and the most obvious sign of it is the loose plot threads left hanging at the end. I have so many questions about what is going on and I know I’m going to have to wait for AAAAAAGES to find out the answers. Obviously, in a way, this is a good thing as it means I am guaranteed to read the next book but it’s still frustrating right now.
In parts, I felt that there were a few too many viewpoint characters and strands of plot. There were some parts in the middle where I felt worried to put the book down because I wasn’t sure I’d remember what was going on when I picked it back up after my day at work. By the end, this had stopped bothering me, but it’s worth being aware that there is a lot going on in this book and you will be required to pay attention.
I found Evie really irritating to start with. I think perhaps you’re supposed to and I had definitely warmed to her after the first 100 or so pages, but for a while I wished someone would just give her a slap and tell her to grow up. I guess, in a way, that’s what the plot actually does because she’s definitely lost some of her more annoying character traits before the conclusion and some of them were just there to hide what was actually going on with her. It’s worth being aware that for a while she comes off as incredibly self-involved.
I’m not sure it’s a complaint exactly but the earlier murders were definitely more scary than the later ones. I actually almost became less afraid of Naughty John as the book went on, which I’m not sure was what the author intended. It might have been, but I’m not sure it was.
This is an excellent book. It’s not perfect, but it comes quite close. Even the faults I picked on can be seen as positives in light of everything else. The hardback edition is also beautiful and well worth your money – with a book this thick, it’s almost better as a hardback because you know that it will survive the initial reading. Trust me, this is one you’ll want to reread so that you can pick up on all the little extras you missed the first time around.