Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Divining the Future of Us

Published:  September 18th, 2012
The Diviners (The Diviners # 1)
By: Libba Bray
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780316126113

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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces!

Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

     Evie O'Neill has a bubbly personality, loves to party and has loads of friends in her 1920s Ohio town.  She also unfortunately has a talent for reading objects and being able to tell people's secrets from them.  When she exposes the secrets of the wrong person, Evie's parents send her to live with her Uncle Will in New York, who curates the Museum of "Creepy Crawlies," thinking it will be a punishment.  It isn't too long before she's living it up in speakeasies, befriending glamourous Ziegfeld girls and partying until dawn.  Then things take a dark turn when murder victims start showing up in the city with nothing in common, except for strange and ritualistic markings made to their bodies.  The police enlist the help of Evie's Uncle Will, realizing that they are connected to something occult related.  But no one realizes at first just how sinister these murders are, with a killer who himself is no longer alive.  How do you stop a killer from striking when he can't be killed because he's already dead?  It's up to Evie, Uncle Will and her friends to figure it out before it's too late.  This was a book that I was looking forward to a lot.  I really enjoyed Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy, with it's historical and paranormal/fantasy elements woven together - its something she does well.  So I was excited to see her go back to her strong point of writing.  That said, the plot was something very different and new from the normal, run-of-the-mill YA fiction which I appreciated.  It was obvious that Bray had definitely done her 1920s research.  However, she really went to great lengths to make that obvious and she really went overkill on the 1920s slang in the book.  It was almost 600 pages of novel and almost the whole way through I really felt like I was being watched and winked at the whole time about how "smart" and period the characters were.  It was annoying.  Also, the amount of plot and world-building made things move at a mostly glacial pace and almost caused me to quit reading a few times.  There was very little character development due to how many "main" characters there were (Evie, Theta [Ziegfeld girl], Mabel, Jericho, Sam, Uncle Will, Henry, Theta, Memphis and Isaiah) and how wide the plot tried to spread itself around them.  I finished feeling little connection to any of them, even Evie who I could tell the author wanted me to care about.  Evie came across as selfish, airheaded and extremely immature 99% of the time, with the other 1% being when she showed kindness or common sense (usually followed by idiocy or unwitting meanness).  Overall, I was disappointed with the lack of character development and the overly self-awareness of the plot.  Good story, not so wonderful follow-through.  I probably won't read the next one due to my ambivalence.
VERDICT:  3/5  Stars
*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

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