Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 46: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Unknown-1I recently joined a new book club (having grown terribly disappointed with the choices made by my other, Twilight-loving club). So far, there are only two members in our group, but I’m loving it. We talk about books we’ve loved and books we’ve hated, and we’ve made huge lists of books that we’ve recommended to each other. Our October book was The Diviners, and to be honest, neither of us was all that fired up about reading it.

And we both ended up really enjoying it.

The Diviners is a ghost story that mostly takes place in pre-depression, New York City. Prohibition is in full swing, flappers are the new “it” girls, and on Broadway, Ziefield and his Follies are all the rage. Evie has just moved to the city to live with her uncle (her parents simply couldn’t handle her drinking and her lifestyle out in Ohio). Evie’s uncle is the curator and manager of New York’s premier museum of the supernatural (or as they call it in the book, the Creepy-Crawly Museum), and Evie JUST SO HAPPENS to have a touch of supernatural power. She can see details of a person’s life, simply by holding an object of theirs.

Of course, a crazed serial killer is terrorizing New York City, and Evie, Uncle Will, and his assistant Jericho (who has some crazy secrets of his own) band together to prove that this killer is no normal human, and that the entire human race is at risk. We also meet a few other New Yorkers who have supernatural powers — the lovely Theta, who is a stylish Ziefield Girl; a handsome young healer in Harlem named Memphis Campbell; a con artist named Sam who can literally disappear right in front of you; and Theta’s roommate Henry, who perhaps has some powers we haven’t quite figured out yet. As Evie and her team raced to stop the murders, the evil spirit “Naughty John” hurries along to bring forth hell on earth.

This book is considered to by YA, but I”m not sure why. The murders are as brutal as anything I’ve read before, and the religious fanaticism and aspects of racism were tough to swallow at times (not because of Bray, but simply because the information was unpleasant). I guess because Evie was only 17, the book gets the YA label slapped on.

The story was pretty fast-paced and hard to put down. Libba Bray is really a very good writer, and she clearly did her research. She grabs you and hooks you with her language and her description of the time and place. I felt as if I could clearly see, hear, and smell 1920′s New York City through her words.

My only complaint: going into it, I had no idea that this was the first in a trilogy. I kept waiting and waiting for the end of the story, and then BOOM. It just ended with perhaps more mysteries than it began with. But really, why am I surprised? I think it might be a federal law that all books for clever young adults must come in groups of three.

Three and a half stars.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

Even Stevens’s #CBR5 review #18 – A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

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My feelings about A Great and Terrible Beauty can be summed up by the following fact: When I double checked my Goodreads list to see what I had read after The Eternity Cure, I completely forgot that I had even read this book.  It was a total fluff book that had potential to be very interesting and just fell flat with an unremarkable protagonist and a forgettable story.

Gemma Doyle finally gets her wish to leave India and move to her native land, England, and attend boarding school. But this opportunity came at a great cost – Gemma witnessed her mother’s death and was subsequently shipped off to live with her grandmother. Gemma goes to boarding school and is immediately confronted by the requisite group of mean girls, with its tall, blonde, and beautiful leader (totally not making that up), Felicity. After the mean girls are thwarted in an attempt to prank Gemma (the only truly enjoyable scene in the book), she becomes friends with two of the girls, Felicity and Pippa. Gemma also brings her roommate, Ann, into the group for God only knows what reason. If you looked up wet blanket in the dictionary, I’m fairly certain Ann’s picture would be there. I haven’t read a more lifeless yet completely annoying and tiresome character in quite some time and there were several times I was rooting for someone to slap her just to liven things up.

Anyways, the girls start dabbling in magic, some bad shit goes down, blah blah blah far-fetched contrivances and predictable plot twists. I just couldn’t with this book.  Like I said: plenty of promise in the premise and setup, total letdown in the execution. It’s not even a bad book per say, just… blah. I mentioned in passing in my last review that some series feel like rehashed material and this is one of them.  I also read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and that fell short for me as well, although I enjoyed it much more than this one. I’m not even curious enough about the girls’ fates to pick up the next installment and I think perhaps this author is just not for me.

sonk’s #CBRV Reviews #6-10

So once again, despite my best efforts…I’ve fallen behind on my reviews. Now I’m playing catch up. If you’re so inclined, my reviews for books #6-10 are up. Links below (I disliked most of these books, which is probably why it took me so long to review them).

#6: Big Boned by Meg Cabot (2 stars)

#7: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (4 stars)

#8: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (2.5 stars)

#9: The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (2 stars)

#10: Quiet by Susan Cain (5 stars)