Review: The Diviners

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray
Release Date ~ September 18, 2012
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ~ Hachette Book Group
ISBN13: 9780316126113
Review copy received from HBG Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:
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-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Libba Bray is a master of Young Adult paranormal (in my opinion) and The Diviners is perfect proof of that claim. The Diviners is a creepy, bold tale that will leave your heart pounding in anticipation.

  1. An eerie, macabre storyline:

    I'm the kind of person that likes to be scared... but just a little bit. And The Diviners struck a perfect balance between some of its more disturbing scenes and humour/mystery to ensure my nightmares weren't horrific.
  2. Part murder mystery, part ghost story:

    There's a difference between reading true crime and ghost stories, but somehow the lines end up blurred here. The evolution from one to the other is flawless with its gradual development and slow reveal of the mystery. And I liked the inclusion of both aspects, which are similar yet distinct, because it appealed to both my curious nature and my imagination.
  3. A real Roaring Twenties atmosphere:

    This is positively brilliant on Libba's part. I have rarely read a book with such a strong sense of atmosphere which completely consumed me, and without losing my interest. The incorporation of appropriate slang, attention to detail in the descriptions, and the setting itself all reflected the time period and it really stood out to me.
I had some mixed thoughts on the characters, however. I didn't love Evie but I didn't hate her, either. She's clearly a flawed character and far from perfect - I don't mind that at all and think that's a rather accurate reflection of a teenage girl. I don't want perfect characters. But I never felt like I truly connected with her, and I think that can partially be attributed to the sheer number of characters introduced and the switching points of view. For this reason, it also seemed to take a while for the plot to build, and overall that's where the book suffered.

Importantly, there were a few too many subplots which were briefly introduced yet without any follow up. It's clearly a set up for future books in the series, but I wasn't a big fan of the simple introduction without any development whatsoever. 

This story is so unlike other books I've read that even with its weaknesses, I adored it! It's an exceptional YA book, and Libba Bray has impressed me yet again with her talent for weaving a story and immersing me in the reading experience.


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