Saturday, March 1, 2014

YAck Attack: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Published: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

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.  (
Donna was the Keeper of the Book this month and it appears she chose a winner.

Sya: Also, when are we talking about the Diviners?

Heidi: Oh oh, can it be now? I really wish she's finish the second one already. There are supposed to be 4 and I'm not sure I have the patience to wait a decade to read them all.

I've read all of her books, but Diviners was the first one that I something close to loved. I think she finally got the balance right between her characters/humor/story.

Oh hey! Pub date August. Yay! That may be worth going to BEA again for.

Sya: I hated A Great and Terrible Beauty and initially didn't like the idea of The Diviners. I ended up listening to the audio which has the most phenomenal narration.

Donna: Now. I'm only 50 pages in and the SETTING and the creepy. *sigh*

Sya: I was actually on pretty strong painkillers for my back for the first few nights I listened to this. I had a few deeply scary waking dreams in which I wasn't entirely sure that Naughty John was not in my house. Really.

Also, that opening passage about the wind is as close to perfect atmospheric writing as I have ever read. Just gorgeous.

Donna: *squee*


Sya: This one certainly has words.

Chachic: Just started reading this, about 5% in and I really like the writing so far. It feels authentic for the setting - not that I know much about the 1920's. I remember reading A Great and Terrible Beauty and the sequel years ago and didn't really like them. This one seems promising.

Donna: THIS BOOK. Although I'm getting a little annoyed by Evie's constant slang but that's the only complaint I have. It's not constant so it's easier to get past.

But the book is SO CREEPY. I love it. *clutches book to chest and smiles goofily* The setting and the mood and the ambiance. I LOVE old New York anyway and Bray just nails it. She's got my head movies going good.

Sya: I think that Evie's annoying slang is grating, but intensionally so - it suits her slightly try-too-hard-wannabe-partygirl persona really well. And yes - the CREEPY! Seriously, it's horribly dark in places. The audio has the Naughty John refrain sung and it still runs round my head when thinking of the book. Eek, indeed.

Donna: Agreed. It's definitely HER and if she were a real person I'd find her incredibly annoying but I'm at a point in the story where she's kind of leveling out because Mabel just put her in her place and her focus is shifting more towards finding a murderer than partying.

Can I just say how much I love it when an author can write a haunted house story? I LOVE HAUNTED HOUSE STORIES.

Chachic: This book is REALLY creepy! I don't mind Evie's slang, I actually find it charming.

Maureen: Yeah, after gritting my teeth through about half the book on Evie's slang, I realized that it's part of her putting on a big show for the world about how cool and hip she is. Are those anachronistic terms for this book? I don't entirely like Evie, but she feels very real to me.

Oddly enough, while I appreciate the depth of the historical setting, after awhile I started to feel like Bray was showing off her research just a little too much. "LOOK. LOOK at all my research. I can state specific stores and streets from the 20s. LOOOOOOK."

Donna: Yes, Evie definitely comes off as some kind of wannabe I'M SO COOL LOOK AT ME I USE ALL THE RIGHT WORDS AND WEAR JUST THE RIGHT CLOTHES and she just wants to do what's cool now, although I feel it's a bit more than a front. She seems to actually enjoy the life she's aiming to live being a flapper and drinking. I just think her insecurities come through and she takes it to the next level with her commitment to the cause. In Ohio it was her life's mission to live like a flapper because it's what she enjoys. In New York things start to level off, especially once the bigger problem comes into play and you get to see Evie leave those things behind because she's caught up in something more than drinking and parties.

See, I LOVE old New York (Pete Hamill, anyone?) so the detail doesn't get to me at all although I can definitely see how it could get grating. Bray is VERY detailed, I think mores with the fashion of the time as opposed to New York itself. If anything that's where my hang-up is with Evie; she just uses every bit of 20s slang imaginable and while it fits her character I'm wondering how much of it is Bray showing her work. Memphis, Theta and Mabel, who are in that same scene, are much more level about it all (again, a testament to Evie's personality but the line between that and research is thin).

Maureen: Yeah, the other characters were definitely not as prone to it as Evie; probably one of the reasons I realized how it was working in the character. She kind of reminds me of Cher from Clueless. Definitely the gorgeous sparkling party girl with a good heart and slightly wonky priorities.

Melissa: I *finally* picked it up last night. And yeah: wow. It reminds me of Great and Terrible Beauty, but it's supposed to, right?

Donna: I'm not in love with the ending. The overall story arc was resolved but there are more strings left hanging than tied up. A lot was introduced throughout the course of the story and not resolved and for such a long book that's kind of aggravating. I'm such a hypocrite for saying that but at the same time I loved the book so it doesn't bother me as much as it would have if I wasn't impressed with what I was reading. I'm looking forward to reading the next one and I don't feel coerced into it.

I never read GaTB.

Heidi: Yes, I couldn't stand Evie at all, but I think the fact that there were so many other good characters in this one kind of distilled her for me in a way that made it more palatable than say Gemma Doyle? I think that Evie is really a very Libba Bray type character, but that she finally realized that those characters annoy a lot of us. Libba Bray herself has always come off as very LOOK AT ME AND HOW COOL AND HIP I AM in real life to me.

Though I'll admit I think I did enjoy the GaTB trilogy more than most people. I read it very early in my YA days, and I wonder if I read it now if I would stomach it the same way?

Love the creep factor in Diviners though. I simply devoured this one, not even noticing how long it was because omg couldn't stop.

Sandy: Jumping in briefly to say that the end to the GaTB trilogy gutted me and it took me a long time to even think about reading another Libba Bray book. KARTIK. JUST WHY.

Melissa: I never made it through the third GaTB book. I can only do so much creepy, and it was over the line for me.

Donna: If I eat the flesh of The Diviners, will I absorb it's creepy power?

Maureen: I think I read the first GATB book but gave up on the rest of the series. Was reluctant to read her others (the Printz winner, Beauty Queens, etc) because of that first experience, but wound up loving them.

Angie: I enjoyed the first GaTB book, thought the second was creeptastically fun, and then the third one went right out to lunch in the most ridiculous way possible. Still a letdown whenever I think about it. Haven't read any of hers since, though I know I probably should.

Melissa: I actually really loved both Going Bovine and Beauty Queens. Bray does creepy really well, but she also does brilliant satire and wacked out weird excellently too. She deserved the Printz she won for Going Bovine.

Nicole: Oh, oh, oh, I LOVE Beauty Queens. (I'm working my way through the Diviners slowly, I swear! I just haven't commented yet because y'all are saying much more interesting things than I.)

Chachic: I finished Diviners last night. Looks like I'm the only one who didn't like it as much as I was expecting? It had a good start but then I really didn't connect with any of the characters and I felt like the different strands of the story (Evie, Sam, Theta, Memphis, Blind Bill, etc.) weren't brought together. And like Donna said, there were some loose ends. As a result, I just wanted to finish reading the book to get to the end but I don't think I'll be picking up the sequel.

Donna: There definitely were a few story lines that weren't brought together and it was one of the reasons why I wasn't thrilled with the ending. Like Blind Bill. He was barely in the story but has one of the biggest cliffhangers. And James who's effectively a non-entity until the very end. I think she strikes a good balance and I'm able to keep track of all the characters and they're all very different from one another so I don't have a blending issue but there's A LOT going on and for as long as the book was, to have so much hanging out there at the end is a little peevish.

Chachic: Exactly. I wasn't confused by the number of the characters, I just found it annoying that there was so much at the end that wasn't explained. It felt like the book/series was trying to keep its air of mystery so readers will be left wanting more. It didn't work for me.

Sya: Y'know, I can't really remember how it ended. Hmmm. I can remember the vague gist of it and certainly how the whole creepy house climax bit worked out but as for the stuff with Jericho etc, it's all a bit fuzzy. Certainly, I had forgotten all about Blind Bill. I am clearly going to have to read it again before book two appears.

Maureen: My hold for the audio version has come in at the library. I wonder if it'll be different the second time around?

Donna: I think you'll need to re-read the ending just to see where all the various plots got left off. There are a lot of them. And it leads into finding more out the second read around because there's SO MUCH going on that I think the more subtle details will make their way through the second or third time around.

Maureen: Listening to it, I also realized that Evie is a pathological liar. Just for the hell of it. I do like her a little better this time around though. She's just arrived in the city.

Melissa: I actually didn't mind Evie. I thought she had spunk. And I was able to get past her constant slang. And you have to admit that she really came into her own at the end. (You go, girl!) But you all are also right that the ending ending dragged out and left too much unwrapped. I felt like the book should have ended a good 30 pages before it actually did. That said, it was a good creepy read. Don't know if I'll read the others, though.

Heidi: Oooh, I'll totally do the audio for a reread before I read the second book when it comes out. I don't think I would have made it through Beauty Queens in text tbqh, but I thought the audio was fantastic.

Sya: The audio is extraordinarily good. Like I said before, I couldn't get into the text at all. I also had the same issue with Beauty Queens so might give the audio a go. I kind of wonder what that says about Bray's style that two of us have struggled with her written word. Not that that is a negative thing per se, but interesting.

Heidi: It IS interesting. I think I would have enjoyed Going Bovine much more on audio as well. She does do her own narration for Beauty Queens, but she does such a great job with it. I'd be interested to hear what you think if you do give it a go!

Donna: I'm going to slap this up on the website this weekend. Any more words, say them now.

Melissa: One more thing: I totally shipped Evie and Sam. When she ended up with (spoiler) Jericho, I was actually disappointed.

Heidi: Psh, see, I LIKED Sam. I did NOT like Evie. Therefore happy. Though I like Jericho too so I suppose that doesn't add up. Also didn't want to see nice ol' what's-her-butt brokenhearted.

Melissa: LOL, Heidi. I didn't mind Evie. But Jericho fell flat. And there was NO chemistry between them (unlike with Sam). Which makes me wonder what Bray's going to do with them later.

Chachic: I thought Evie would end up with Sam too! Oh well, I wouldn't be surprised if the next book has a love triangle.

Melissa: ARGH! NOT THAT!


Maureen: I didn't read that as "ending up" with Jericho. I haven't reached that part in the audiobook yet, but my impression was that she was kissing him for the hell of it, just to see what it was like. And I was Very Disappointed in her for Mabel's sake. Totally broke the Girl Code. There's much more spark with Sam, if only because they're so perfectly alike.

Donna: Agreed on the Mabel front. Evie isn't too great of a friend by the end of the book. And please, no love triangles.

Sya: Surely there won't be a love triangle. I didn't mind Jericho but he was a bit flat. Certainly, I didn't particularly care if Evie ended up with anyone. I was too busy being creeped out.

Heidi: MABEL that's what good ol' what's her butt's name was. But yeah, Evie was a real crap friend to her and I liked her. I do agree it's too early in the series to say what way any connections will go. Hopefully no love triangles. LB hasn't done it before so I trust!

Donna: You all fail. How is it that the one person that doesn't give a flying dick about RA reminds the court to name a role for the king? The post is on hold until you all come to your senses and get your jobs done.

Maureen: !

Will. Maybe it's the voice the narrator is using, but DAYUM. So Uncle Will is RA.

Melissa: You only remembered, Donna, because you're posting it. :) I second Maureen's suggestion.

Donna: You're right. My amount of caring otherwise would have been nil. Do we have a third? Say?

Sya: I concur.

Heidi: I'm really going to have to listen to this audio as my mental image of Will has just been VASTLY changed.

Donna: Yeah, pretty much. Not what I considered Will to look like at all. Naughty John, maybe . . .

Sya: DONNA! Don't be mean.

Maureen: Well, that's downright unsettling. Also possibly valid . . .

Sya: MAUREEN! Don't encourage her.

Maureen: Am I a troublemaker now? Excellent!

Donna: So RA can never be a villain?

Nicole: RA makes the best villains. Have you seen BBC's Robin Hood? He's the only good part - a villain clad in all leather.

Donna: You're asking me if I've seen anything with RA in it . . .

I think he'd be a better fit for Naughty John. A charismatic, sociopathic, homicidal ghost bent on turning people to his flock and ruling the world. Or stodgy Uncle Will.

Maureen: Stodgy, maybe, but with the tragic past. Man can rock a tragic past.

Sya: Ok. Donna wins this one largely because I think that Knight of our Realm, Tom Hiddleston is a better fit for Uncle Will.

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