Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

I've had this sitting on my TBR shelf since the summer of 2012 when I attended BEA and received an ARC of it.  I really didn't know much about it, and that's part of why it sat for so long.  When I did see reviews of it, I knew I needed to read it.  But then, I think the sheer size of it kept me from picking it up until now.  I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads, although actually it'd be more like a 4.5.  My only complaint is probably at the very end.  Or maybe the length.  I feel that everything tied together really well until we get to the end, and the problem is basically solved, for this instance at least.  And then the story goes on to basically set up a sequel.  But the little stories that set up for that were really kind of confusing.  All I know for sure, is that something big is still out there, and a storm is coming.  So, not sure when a sequel comes out, but maybe I'll be able to get an ARC of it when I go to BEA this coming summer.

The blurb on Goodreads talks about one main character, Evie.  And yes, she really is the central character, but there are so many more side stories, almost more than is even let on in what few names are brought up in that blurb.  Evie has been sent to New York City to live with her Uncle Will after something disgraces her in the small town she is from.  Evie has this ability to see things about people by just touching something that belongs to them.  And when she lets out information about a certain engaged guy having a possible pregnancy with someone other than his fiancee, she is then sent away.  Which actually, is fine by Evie.  She can't wait to get to NYC and really be a part of the scene.  Evie is kind of a flapper in a way.  She's got her hair short, she speaks the lingo, and enjoys her drinks, even in this age of prohibition.  When she gets to NYC, she finds out that her Uncle's museum is one that is not that big, it is a museum of the occult and other supernatural things.  And when strange murders begin taking place in the city, the police come to him for help with the strange symbols and way the bodies are found.  Without even thinking, Evie touches a piece of the victim's clothing and finds that maybe she can help with her ability.  At first however she doesn't say anything to her Uncle, not knowing how he will take it.

There is one person who knows about Evie's ability, her friend Mabel, who lives in her Uncle's building and has been her pen pal.  Evie is so glad to have a friend, and takes Mabel under her wing, getting her out and about in the city, as well as trying to help her get matched up with Evie's Uncle Will's assistant Jericho, who Mabel has a bit of a crush on.  We learn that Jericho has a secret as well, although we're not quite told what it is until a big moment towards the very end of the story.

Then there is the glamorous chorus girl Theta, who works at the Ziegfeld Follies, and her "brother" Henry, who also live in the same building.  Mabel introduces Evie to them, and soon they all become friends.  Theta and Henry have their own secrets, ones that we don't really learn much about until towards the end as well.

Another big character that we spend time with is a boy named Memphis.  Memphis used to be a healer, we don't know exactly what changed, other than it had something to do with when his mother died.  And now his younger brother Isaiah seems to have an ability, and Memphis is helping, along with another woman in the neighborhood, his brother to hone the skills.

One other main character/storyline I will mention is Sam, a con artist that Evie meets when she first gets to NYC, arriving in Grand Central Station.  He also has a past, and a bit of an ability, and his storyline is one that will lead us on in the sequel I guess.

Okay, the reason I complained about the length, this was a very detailed story.  Not that this is a bad thing, just that there was a lot to take in, so it took a while to read it all.  Again, not a bad thing.  Although I can see how this could have been split into two or maybe three books the way many teen books are today.  Again, that doesn't need to be done, look at books like Twilight and Harry Potter, both very long books.  And Harry Potter is definitely as in depth as this book is.  I can see that The Diviners is a book I could read a second, third, or more times, and probably pick up something I missed each time.  A great story, just know that you'll need to set the time to read it, and be prepared to give it your full attention.  Unlike some stories this in depth I wasn't ever confused about who I was reading about, although once or twice I did go back a few pages, or to a different section with that character to try to remember exactly what I'd read about that situation the day before.

The bad guy was evil, and there was no cop out, in my opinion, it was done very well.  I also really enjoyed reading about places I may have been in NYC, and also places I might now want to visit next time I go.