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.
This was the book that I bought with the money that I got after returning Unwind back to Barnes & Noble since my copy was inconveniently missing the last 50 pages. I intended on buying Unwind again, but then I saw The Diviners and I figured, “What’s the point in buying Unwind again when I’ve already read it? Why not just buy a whole new book that I can enjoy? I can always buy Unwind later when I plan on rereading it if I ever do!” So yeah. Long story short, The Diviners has been added to my collection of books.
For buying this book, I wanted to enjoy this a lot more than a did. And not just because I paid a good twelve bucks for this fat book (not that I’m complaining… Okay, I am a bit. Just a bit), but also because so many BookTubers and reviewers I like loved this book and gave it either four or five stars, and when I read it and didn’t really like it, I felt so bad. It didn’t even take me the entire book to feel bad. It took me the first hundred pages. I wouldn’t say I had to force myself to finish The Diviners, because I didn’t. I could just say that it took a lot longer than it should have. If I liked it, it would’ve taken me a week or so. Instead, it took me two weeks. And the only reason–the only reason–that I persevered the first 300 pages was because two of my teachers give us 30-60 minutes a day to read, which is where I get a lot of my daily reading done (okay, four-days-a-week reading, because I only go to school four days a week). But still. It shouldn’t have had to take my school hours to finish a book. I should get home and still want to read it, which sadly, I didn’t want to do.
Anyway, onto why I didn’t really like this book all that much. As my first Libba Bray book, I didn’t really know what to expect other than what others told me, so you can imagine my shock (or irritation?) when the first murder–the first interesting plot point–didn’t even occur until around page 70 or 80. Yes, it took that long for something interesting to happen. That’s not good. In regular books that are 300-400 pages, the first interesting thing happens in the first 1-40 pages. I once read this quote from James Dashner, and he said that if your plot doesn’t start on page one, then you don’t have a story. I don’t completely agree with this, because you do need a starting point, but I agree somewhat. I think it’s more like either chapter one or two. Sure, “chapter one” of The Diviners had the ouiji board and all, but other than that, it took 10-15 “chapters” to get the plot rolling.
And let’s not even talk about pages 100-400. Nothing. Happened. Pages 400 through the end is where everything happens and reels you in until you finished it. I’m surprised I didn’t have to force myself to read to page 400 like I had for The Book Thief.
I don’t want to make this review too long and excruciating, but there are a couple of things I need to point out before I end this. I’ll number them for you.
1. Memphis. I literally didn’t even know that Memphis was black until around page 350-400 when Memphis showed up with a white chick and his friend Gabe admonished him for that. I’m not saying that Memphis being black is bad, I’m just saying that this fact shouldn’t been made apparent within the first time we meet Memphis. The other thing about Memphis is that I don’t even know why he’s in this book. The Diviners is written in third person, and so Bray can have a bunch of different perspectives. But come on. Memphis had no real place in the overall plot.
2. Evie. I liked her, but she was a bit boring. I think Jericho would’ve been a better main character as for his big secret in the end. I think this aspect of the book should be explored more in the second book. That will definitely make it more intriguing to me!
3. It was too long. The story could’ve been told in 300-maybe 400 pages rather than almost 600.
4. The entire book seemed more like a gigantic prologue to a bigger, better book rather than a book on its own. Also, Diviners were barely talked about. In the book. Called The Diviners. There’s something wrong with that.
5. This book wasn’t even creepy. In all the reviews I’ve seen or read, the reviewer says that this book scares them and it creepy. Yeah, no. I’m literally so scared of horror movies so you can’t say that I’m not easily scared. And you can come up from behind of me and say “boo” and I’ll scream like I’m being murdered. But the whistling? Sure, creepy. But the scenes where Naughty John made an appearance weren’t even scary. This book wasn’t scary. At all. I was disappointed. Not in the writing, because I don’t look for scary books, but in my expectations.
6. The lingo of the 20’s made the book hard to follow at times. I don’t know. I think Bray should’ve given us a dictionary or key or something.
7. The entire book seemed like Bray was just trying to show off her extensive knowledge of the 20’s rather than tell a story. The description was great, but I think it was a bit excessive.
But I have to admit that I liked the whole occult aspect as well as the mystery! The ending was really interesting, and it’s what saved this book from one star. My verdict is that if you’re going to read this book, then you either need to be into the 20’s or like chunky books. I think you should get this from the library if you really want to read this rather than buy it. Then you can buy it if you like it! Clearly many people see something they like in this book, so it’s worth a shot for you, I think.
(And this review still ended up being long… What can I say? I’m a ranter. I don’t mean to; it just happens.)
Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ’em off for a coupla stones.