The week, Alison Lee and I read The Diviners, by Libba Bray. To me this book defies description, so I am going to give you links the ones on Amazon and Goodreads. I think the fact that they are so different says a lot. I will tell you that it involves teenagers in the 1920’s with supernatural powers, and features one girl Evie O’Neill who is sent away from her Midwest hometown to stay with her uncle in New York City. The book includes Ouija Boards, speakeasies, and Ziegfeld Follies.
I had a lot of mixed feelings while reading Diviners. One the one hand – I loved that the book was set in the 1920s, I loved the names (Jericho, Theta, and Memphis) I loved that it was a fresh look on a paranormal theme (no small feat in the current YA market). We’ve read a lot of books with one girl who likes one boy and that is basically the whole story. While I do enjoy that storyline, it was fun to read a constantly changing social web that highlighted the importance of friendship as much, if not more than, romance.
I loved and hated the book delved into so many points of view, and managed to weave them together into a coherent and unique narrative. As a writer I thought of this as very skillful, but as a reader I found this confusing and distancing. It definitely felt like Libba Bray was fitting two (maybe three) novels, into one book…. which also would explain the almost 600 page length of the novel. It took me almost 300 pages before I cared about any of the characters, but by the end I had connected with almost all of them.
To put this in simpler terms, I greatly appreciated the book, but I definitely didn’t love it. Still, I think I will stick with the series, if only to see what twists and turns Bray decides to put the characters through.