The Diviners

Mark,

Okay, I’m going to need some convincing that Libba Bray’s The Diviners belongs in the year’s top five.

The setting was great and obviously well-researched. In fact, maybe a little too well-researched? A couple of times I felt that she overdid it on the slang and the various references to things that were going on in the twenties. On the other hand, it worked as both setting and character development, particularly for Evie. Favorite line from Evie: “I thought research would be more glamorous, somehow. I’d give the librarian a secret code word and he’d give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.”

The characters were generally well done. As I mentioned before, I had no trouble picking the book up after having put it down for a couple of months, so obviously Bray did a good job of differentiating the characters and giving them strong and memorable traits. I’m not convinced that there was a lot of character development, though. Did Evie really change much from the first to the last? Did Memphis? Is this a moot question because the book is the first in a series, and so there will be plenty of time for that?

The plot was intriguing and worked well, although lots and lots of things were left for the later books: Jericho, the Buffalo Project, Sam’s abilities, Mrs. Walker, Memphis and Isaiah and Bill Johnson, Theta and Henry. And of course, there were things that were only introduced at the end, like Mabel and the revolutionary, Arthur Brown. Or Miss Lillian and the cat entrails.

But I would agree with you that the basic Naughty John plot moved along and was resolved (we guess) by the end.

Theme(s)? I’m not sure. I guess one of the reasons I’m not super-excited about this book is that it doesn’t seem to have a lot going on besides the plot and setting. Which I enjoyed, but still . . .

So, what makes it special? What makes it literary? What makes it a top 5?

It’s definitely a book I’ll recommend (already have, in fact), but tell me more about your take on it.

– Mom

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