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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) - Libba Bray

I finished this book yesterday on a return flight from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Let me start by saying that the only prior Libba Bray book I had read was A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I liked, but didn't love. I liked it enough that I bought the sequels, but I didn't love it so much that I actually read them, although I still intend to do so someday. This book may inspire me to give that series another go.

The Diviners is an ambitious book - it is very long for a YA and it has a lot of moving parts. There were aspects of the book that I thought were very successful, some that I found a little bit awkward, and some that I didn't really like all that much.

What I didn't like: I really grew to hate the flapper-speak. I am sure that people sprinkled their daily speech with flapper-isms, but I felt like the constant "pos-i-tute-lys" and "baby vamps" and the like were distracting. I think that Bray was making a point about how shallow Evie was at the beginning of the book, and her growth as a character, because she did seem to use less of the over-the-top speech as the book wore on and she grew up a bit. Which brings me to the next point. Unfortunately, Evie just isn't a very likeable character. Perhaps this will change as the series continues - and I will definitely read the follow-ups because I liked the story a lot. Evie reminds me a bit of the main character from KMM's Fever series, who is all pink glitter in the first book and ultimately grows up into a superbadass warrior woman. If I were deciding whether to continue the series based upon my affection for Evie, it'd be a no go. She is annoying, self-centered, shallow, and reckless. One of those character traits in a heroine is good - keeps her from being a Mary Sue. All of them make for a MC who is sort of a pain in the ass.

However, what I liked way outweighs what I didn't like. I loved the setting overall. I loved Jericho, and the tiny clockwork elements that Bray added to the story (a bit of steampunk for the steampunk lover in us all). I loved, loved, loved, the ghost aspect of the book. I thought that Bray did an excellent job picking up the disturbing threads of historical American evangalism, spiritualism, and cult behavior, and using religious zealotry as a basis for her story. This is a uniquely American story and relied very little on European historical and religious traditions. This aspect of the book was well-excecuted and fascinating.

I really liked the romantic elements as well. She skirted a love triangle, but ultimately, I felt that she treated the romances in the books in a way that was very realistic, and appropriate for a young adult book. There was no sense of obsessive-love-at-first-glance, and she focused on developing friendships, connections and relationships between her characters first, and allowed the romances to develop in a much more organic fashion. She also broached the topic of interracial attraction/romance in a way that I thought was also very period-appropriate and compelling.

The ending was satisfying - there was a resolution to the primary conflict, but hints of a far bigger story to tell.

This book is well-researched. Bray's writing is workmanlike - she doesn't put words together as gorgeously as a writer like Maggie Stiefvater, but she writes a strong story, and this was a really strong first entry in a series that I expect to really like as it continues.