Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray

An amazon summary because I'm getting lazy about summarizing stories and just want to get to the meaty bits (WHAT, HONESTY IS GOOD POLICY), "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." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm going to disclaimer right here and say that this book is so interconnected that it's impossible to talk about any sort of sustenance to it without revealing something later in the book. So if you want to read it without knowing any spoilers, don't read this blog post. Otherwise, carry on.

So what the summary doesn't tell you is that there's a lot of different characters in this story that are connected to each other through all of the different acquaintances. It's like a chain of people with 'friendship' serving as the links.

...what that statement doesn't tell you is that there's about twenty or so characters you come across and have to remember all the details about and what's important about them and if they potentially have a power or not.

...this book took me a few weeks of putting it down and coming back to it and then taking some more notes on characters and then having to put it down and read something else; etc until I actually finished it.

...I suppose it was worth it merely to satisfy my curiosity about what Libba Bray has been writing (I've been kind of waiting with remote interest to see what she would do after The Great and Terrible Beauty series ended).

That was some ramblings. WHAT WHAT. No, wait, what? ....Yeah...

So The Diviners is set up to make you believe that the character is 'pos-i-toot-ly' awesome but really, she's quite a selfish whiner that serves as the catalyst of showing how all the characters relate to one another in some way by a connection being formed. The book is comprised of a lot of mini sub plots that is not going to be answered with one big plot that's mostly resolved (maybe) but an even larger plot is lurking in the background waiting to show it's true form in later books I presume.

Confused? Don't worry! I took notes.

One thing before I make this seem like a book bashing; as far as I know, everything about setting, speech, mannerisms, and all the aspects that go into effective world creating were done excessively well. When Libba Bray wants to recreate a time period in American History, she does it very well. There are creative liberties taken on some level I imagine, but to what extent I am unsure. I don't know if the museum actually existed, or if Manhattan was exactly in that fashion at some point, but the fluid world building and how the characters interacted with each other without slipping up or becoming tirelessly silly, it was great.

So let's talk about character connection mapping and why that's important (maybe). I'm only going to share what I gleaned about Evie's map, since if I sat here trying to do everyone's map, I'd basically just be rewriting the book. So let me not do that. Yeah.

So Evie started out in some small town in Ohio where she has two parents, and her brother James. James is dead and is relevant as he serves to show that Evie has a heart somewhere in the midst of all her selfishness. Now Evie got into trouble in Ohio by using her 'power' (and oh man will I get to that later) so her folks sent her to Manhattan to live with her sensible Uncle Will who is the curator of a museum and took in a ward of the state, Jericho. Evie wasn't put off by her 'punishment' though as Manhattan had her pen pal friend Mabel, and Mabel is 'goofy' (crush) on Jericho. So automatically, Evie is connected to her Uncle Will through her parents, and Evie is connected to Jericho who seems like an outlying character through bother Uncle Will and Mabel. It's not even complicated yet guys.

So as Evie gets to Manhattan, she won some money on the train which was promptly pick pocketed by a fellow named Sam Lloyd who also steals a smooch from her. Evie arrives at the museum, blah blah, she gets to the building where she'll be staying with her Uncle (which is where Mabel lives as well), and meets Henry and Theta. Theta and Evie automatically have friendship because they're cool like that, and through Theta, Evie knows Henry. Now because Theta is a Ziegfield girl (which is a fancy way of saying she dances in revealing outfits but is not a stripper...maybe) who gets invited to a lot of parties, parties that Sam Lloyd is at. So Sam Lloyd doesn't leave the picture folks.

At this point, Evie is connected to her parents, her Uncle Will, Jericho, Mabel, Theta, Henry, and Sam Lloyd. Just to show you how obnoxious this all is, let's take the Theta train. Evie knows Theta, Theta knows Memphis, Memphis is Isiah's brother, Isiah knows Sister Walker, Sister Walker and Uncle Will are connected from something in the past, Uncle Will is connected to Evie. Everyone manages to loop back to each other somehow. The book is full of a chain of people that are all interconnected. It's clever I suppose, but kind of obnoxious that so many characters are present. I suppose each one has a different power and it is called The Diviners not One person only has the powers LOL so there's that.

Oh yeah. Let's talk about the POWERS. OOOOOOO (imagine wiggling fingers).

So Evie is able to pick up objects and concentrate on them, feel them grow warm, and learn information about the past of whoever the object belongs to. Memphis was able to heal people at one point until he tried to heal his dying mother and lost his gifts (maybe, there's a very inconclusive scene, maybe more on that later, probably not though). Isiah is able to 'read cards'; if someone holds up a card where he can't see what it says, he can concentrate and read it. Isiah is also able to do the object reading like Evie does, but he seems to learn something about their future instead of their past. Sam Lloyd is able to control people's thoughts on some level as when he pick pockets people he thinks 'DON'T SEE ME' and people look right through him or do not notice what he's doing. Sam Lloyd seems to give mental suggestions I suppose, kind of like a Jedi mind trick. Theta does SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS as she gets all hot and blacks out when she does whatever she can do. I want to say that Henry is alluded to having a power as well, but I can't find anything about it in my notes. So he's a maybe. There's a strong implication that Sam Lloyd's mother has a power of some sort, there's a strong implication that Uncle Will knows something of powers if he does not possess powers himself, and that Sister Walker also has knowledge of powers or possesses power.

If you've ever read the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, and this thing happens where for the first, oh, four books or so it's like, "YOU'RE GONNA SAVE THE WORLD" and it doesn't tell anyone how they're going to save the world, what the world needs saving from, or basically anything helpful about the statement (did that series ever say who needed saving, or did they just drop it (I stopped reading it)); The Diviners basically does the same thing. It's like, OH MAN, CHECK OUT THOSE POWERS. HERE'S A BUNCH OF CRYPTIC AND HALF FACT STATEMENTS ABOUT POWERS, WIGGLY FINGERS, NOISES. Libba Bray clearly set her book up to be full of unexplained oddities that have the air of possible explanations in the coming books (if there's not more books then this book was an absolute waste of time and do not read it). Right now it basically gives you the beginning sentence on an implied piece of paper, and expects you to have enough patience to wait and be told what the rest of the page contains. It's freaking annoying as a hangnail.

I haven't touched on the main plot of this book folks. That's how twisted up this whole book is.

So the 'MAIN PLOT', I'm saying main plot as it appears to begin and end neatly in this one book, but it probably doesn't because whatever, can't keep a good killer down or some crap.

Okay, not tangent.

The main plot is essentially some murders have started to happen around Manhattan that seem to have some religious or paranormal involvement. The police detectives go to Uncle Will to be like, 'Dude, this body is covered in weird symbols, and you have a vast knowledge of crap like this, so what's going on with that body?' and Uncle Will's like, 'Uh, uh, I have no clue. TO THE LIBRARY!' which is kind of epic but MOVING ON FROM TANGENT LAND.

So Evie, being all selfish and attention seeking and wants to be around the 'city excitement' weasels her way into seeing the dead body gets all weirded out and accidentally uses her power on the body. So she gets all involved in it, Jericho gets involved, and inevitably Sam Lloyd does as well, and they basically become Scooby Doo except everyone brings something to the table and not just Thelma.

The plot on that basically wraps up at the end of the book after revealing a lot of weird power, exposes the readers to the idea that belief and conviction hold a lot of power, kind of splatters some religion in there for good measure, and then waits for the second book.

All in all, I'm not sure if I enjoyed the actual story of the book more than the puzzle of the book.

Take that as you will.

Happy reading!

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