Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Free-For-All Reading: The Diviners

I want to start speaking with 1920's slang. I had to resist the urge to write down  the slang that was used throughout The Diviners to have it on hand for life incorporation. This may seem like an odd thing to start off with when talking about a book but it struck me as I was reading and actually speaks volumes about the world that Libba Bray has set up.

I hadn't read anything by Libba Bray before The Diviners. I have, once again, bought A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels but have read neither of them. I knew she was going to be at one of the signings I am attending tomorrow and I've heard such amazing things about The Diviners, I thought it might be a good place to start my Bray education.

Now, having read The Diviners, I understand the hype. I was not disappointed.

The book covers such an amazing scope of characters and themes and ideas. I didn't realize it was the first book in a series, I thought it was a standalone and I went into it seeing it a little differently because of this. Not in a bad way. There were very few pages, in all of it's nearly 600 page glory, that I didn't find myself completely engrossed. I greedily devoured the book, trying to see how on Earth Bray was going to wrap everything she had started up in so few (ha!) pages. When I realized how few pages I had left after the defeat of Naughty John I was a little dismayed. There was no way it could be properly wrapped up (remember this was my first encounter with the works of Libba Bray). I quickly realized that there was going to be more.

I can't, reasonably, say that I'm disappointed. I wouldn't say no to more.

Evie took some adjusting to but I think she was supposed to. She's spunky and fierce but not inherently likable. It definitely took character development before I started to feel for her. She needed to grow and take responsibility for something that was happening. I don't necessarily mean that she was the catalyst, more that she began to feel like it was her responsibility to fight the growing darkness. As the story progresses she grows into her gift and proves more than willing to bear the burden of her gift, even though I'm not certain she fully understands what that means yet. The Evie from early in the book needed the weight of her gift and its practical use in her life. It makes her solid.

There wasn't a male character that I was in love with right away. Jericho, Sam, and Memphis all had their moments but none of them made me totally swoon. I was actually okay with this because that wasn't essential to the story. There was so much else going on that by throwing in this totally swoon worthy guy would have lessened the impact of what was going on a little.

I was never as taken with Sam as I expected to be. He's snarky and witty and cynical. Pretty much everything I usually love in a fictional guy but there just something that put me off him a little. Jericho grew on me, though, as I suspect he was supposed to. When I thought that the book was a standalone his part of the story felt...unnecessary. It was an unneeded complication. But now that I'm done I can't wait to see how exactly it ties in. We see the beginning of the web but not the whole thing just yet.

Memphis. I like his brooding poet ways. I like that he loves but gets frustrated with Isaiah. I love how he is with Theta. They have such a fast and strong relationship. And the way it is set up introduces a whole new level to fate aspect of the story. They instantly feel as if they are supposed to be together, everything else be damned. I love the image of them on the street together at night, parting and her shouting her name back to him. It's an iconic sort of image that I could see so clearly.

Running with Theta, the inclusion of her back story and the unclear nature of her power (just heat?) was baffling at first. It was really interesting but I wasn't sure why it was there until I realized the series thing. She's such a complex character. Her relationship with Henry also makes me happy. I adored that whole section. She, Henry, and Evie all come off these shallow flippant people until we get to see them further. I realize this sounds ridiculous and obvious but there's something so broken about the depth of these characters that it felt worth mentioning.

The Diviners is honesty disturbing. From the terrifying reminder that some people are really as disturbing as the Brethren to the suggestion the just belief can start something so terrible. It's the sort of creepy that you don't necessarily notice while reading. Then when you pause in reading you think for a second about Jacob Call and their honest belief and you're legitimately freaked out. The murders are gruesome and upsetting in a way that only ritualistic ones can really pull off. And oh, Libba Bray pulls them off.

The Diviners is so heavily entrenched in its world. I was impressed by how well Bray pulled this off. I've read so many novels set in the past that don't feel like it. And not in a "the issues are so timeless" sort of way. Some just don't work. This works so, so well. Everything about this book just dripped with the 20's. The research that had to be involved to pull this off is astounding.

In addition to the creation of a convincing world, I am incredibly impressed with Libba Bray's ability to turn the city and the elements into characters. The city, the house, the wind were all as involved in what was going on as any of the characters. Following the wind to check up on all of the characters, highlighting that web still without exposing it, was brilliant. By the time the showdown with Naughty John happened I was equally as frightened of the house.

Libba Bray has weaved a very tangled web in The Diviners. No one is innocent and everyone has secrets. I can't wait to see what they all are.

Overall: Massively Epic.

I'm starting Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken next. I was hoping to have it done before the signing but work's been really crazy this week. I had multiple job interviews around two jobs and just generally being worn out. Which is, sadly, why I didn't get to this week's Top Ten Tuesday even though I wrote out my list on break at work. I hope I'm better next week.

What did you ducks think of The Diviners?

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