I am writing from New York, where I am busily attending Kidlitcon. Yesterday I attended two lovely publisher previews, at Random House and Harper Collins, where us bloggers heard about many wonderful sounding books (about which more later), enjoyed tasty snacks, and left with generous bags of books. It was then banquet time, where very good company (I sat with Kelly from Stacked and Leila from Bookshelves of Doom, neither of whom I'd met before today), and more tasty food combined to make a very pleasant evening.
The particular upshot of all this is that, due to the generous bags of books, there is no way I want to take my ARC of the Diviners, which kept me company on my journey, back home with me. So I am quickly sharing my thoughts.
The Diviners, by Libba Bray (Little Brown, YA, Sept 18, 2012) --paranormal historical fiction in which the excitement of life as as party girl in New York in the Roaring Twenties turns into the excitement of trying to stop a murderers, would-be Antichrist!
The Basic Plot: Evie is a flapper girl, desperate to plunge into life and (this is my opinion) immerse herself in sensory overload so that she doesn't have to think about things she'd rather not thing about (such as her dead brother. Such as the effects of her actions on other people. Especially the effects of her preternatural gift--the ability to hold an object, and see things about its owner). So when her parents send her off to her uncle in New York (curator of a museum of the occult), she's thrilled.
When the first bizarrely grotesque murder victim is discovered, and Evie's uncle is asked by the police for his opinion on the occult elements of the crime, Evie goes along for the ride, excited to see her first New York crime scene. And finds herself into very dark and dangerous waters...because this is no ordinary murder, and no ordinary police force can stop the inexorable progression of killings. Killings that might lead to hell on earth....
And in the meantime, the canvas of New York on which the murders are being played out is as full of characters as a Bruegel painting. All of whom have secrets...
My Thoughts, written in haste because of needing, like Evie, to hurl myself back into the giddy excitement that is Manhattan (although I don't think Evie would be interested in Kidlitcon):
--Evie annoyed me at first, but grew on me. I decided that I liked having a flawed character front and center--she was very believable, but with room to change as she became more mature. And she has her good points.
--the first few murders, before the identity of the murder was confirmed, were very interesting indeed. After Evie and co. figure it out, the next murders are still interesting, but not as much so because we know what's happening.
--there were too many characters of interest with secrets and too many bits of unresolved or apparently extraneous side plot. I really really did not think it added anything to the book, for instance, for Jericho to have the particular secret that he did. I'm sure that it will all be useful in future books, but I do think that The Diviners could have been trimmed and tightened. It was very long (the final version, according to Amazon, is 608 pages) and I don't think it really needed to be that long.
Final Conclusion: Even the snappy dialogue, interesting characters (even though there were perhaps too many of them, they were all interesting), and a creepy, supernatural mystery weren't quite enough to keep the ball rolling as briskly as I would have liked.