The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners is the first in a new series. I was kind of sad to learn this, not because I don’t like reading trilogies, or quadrilogies, or whatever, but it means more plots and characters to keep up with over the long run, and I already have more than enough plots and characters to keep up with. However, I liked this book enough to say, with a sigh of resignation, that I’m into it and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Here’s a description of The Diviner’s from Amazon: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

As I was lying around the house, stuffing my face with Christmas goodies and reading this book, my brother-in-law asked me the pet peeve question: “Whatcha readin?” Here’s my diatribe on that subject, in case you don’t know it already: Reading Rants from a Couple of Book Snobs. I replied to him, saying, “Do you really want to know, cuz are you going to read it?” Then I started thinking about it. How would I sum up this book to a lay person—a typical non-reader? I decided to call it a Young Adult mix of Stephen King (particularly The Stand), and Indiana Jones, and maybe Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody.

I say Stephen King, The Stand, because there are some graphic horror elements and portents of end times (eschatological and not, for once, apocalyptical) with a common dream/vision shared among several of the main characters. That common dream/vision featured a shady, dark character of a dubious nature. I don’t think he’s Randall Flagg, but he could be. But with a top hat.

I say Indiana Jones because my brother-in-law would more readily recognize that name before Amelia Peabody. There is a lot of relic hunting and historical research, but Diviners is set in the 20s (as opposed to Indiana Jones in WWII) and takes place in New York.

I say Amelia Peabody, because, ultimately, this story is a historical mystery with clues to discover and trails of evidence to follow to stop a sadistic killer. Instead of turn-of-the-century suffragettes, though, we’ve got flappers and philosophers. Small spoiler* – the killer is not the same bad guy haunting the main characters’ nightmares. I think the mystery villain will become more prominent in the next book.*

This is the first YA title I’ve read in a while that lacked a strong romantic element. It’s nice to read a novel with a female lead who isn’t constantly angsting over a male love interest. HOWEVER, I have a feeling romance will become a bigger factor in the next book. By the end of this story, the main character, Evie, has several guys vying for her attention, and she’s going to have to do something about it.

The best part of this book was that Evie was well drawn as a character. She was no Mary Sue. She had major flaws – selfish, spoiled, sarcastic, impulsive – that made her annoying at times, but she was also smart, witty, and brave. I know people like her. You probably do, too.

As for criticism, the 20s lingo got a little annoying (see “pos-i-toot-ly” above). Maybe it was accurate and I’m being harsh. Maybe in 90 years people will read the dialogue of 2012 and think, “People didn’t really say ‘OMG!’ or, ‘Whatever,’ or ‘I know, right?’ all the time, did they?” Also, there were times when I found the atmosphere and scene building a tiny bit pretentious, or maybe I just expected a YA book to pander more and this one didn’t. So, maybe that’s a backhanded compliment, after all.

Get it. Read it. I think you’ll like it.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. xlibrisbookreviews
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 14:38:24

    Reblogged this on xlibrisbookreviews.

    Reply

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