Audie Award Nominee, Best Teens Category, 2013
Something dark and evil has awakened....
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-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened....
This audiobook includes an introduction read by Libba Bray.
©2012 Libba Bray (P)2012 Listening Library
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It was a fairly enjoyable listen (largely due to the fine narration), but the story leaves quite a bit to be desired.
I believe that a young adult novel at its best will appeal to all audiences. Every adult has survived adolescence and can relate to that tender age - exciting, frightening, heartbreaking. But the characters - young and old alike - are significantly underdeveloped. Their dialogues and backgrounds often feel cliched and contrived and while I don't dislike them, it is difficult to empathize with them.
The story is an interested premise. I loved the backdrop of 1920s New York City. Add a mysterious serial killer with a supernatural twist, and you have the beginnings of what could be a fascinating tale! Unfortunately, the story often gets lost in melodrama and conclusion-jumping. The connections between events fall short for me. And the characters are always surprisingly calm (and sometimes even seem excited) about the horrifying events that are unfolding around them.
The story is a strange juxtaposition between writing that seems to be intended for a younger audience, but with subject matter for an older one. This story had a lot of potential, but despite my best hopes, it was largely unmet. Perhaps the second book will bring more depth to the characters and their stories.
I purchased this because I had enjoyed the author's previous works, even though the premise and blurb didn't really sound that enticing. I didn't know much about the '20s, and wasn't that interested in it, but I needed an audiobook for the commute so I took a chance. I'm so glad I did! The author brings the '20s and all its sparkling energy to life in this book, and I really felt immersed in it, in a way that I rarely do with YA novels. The narrator did an excellent job giving each character a unique voice, and capturing the inflection and tone of speech in the '20s. She even sounded great singing some of the songs!
Unlike the other reviewer, I thought the characters were well fleshed out and true to life. I liked reading from all of their perspectives, even though there were a couple of characters that would probably annoy the hell out of me if I knew them in real life.
Best of all, the story moves FAST, which is especially impressive considering how complex and layered the plot is. There's a lot of stuff going on at once, but Ms. Bray manages to keep all the balls up in the air and the pages (figuratively) turning. The scary parts of the book are genuinely scary--another thing I have never seen in a YA novel.
One caveat: the story starts out a bit slow, and the main character, Evie, comes off as a brat when we are first introduced to her. It also takes a while for modern ears to get used to the '20s talk without snorting and thinking of one of those cheesy noir detective movies. Hang in there. It's definitely worth it.
Two main things about the book disappointed me:
1 - Evie. Good lord - she is "positootly" annoying. I figured Bray was creating a character for you to dislike - not hate - but dislike and then have some revelation that turned her around. Nope. Annoying through the book-ski.
2 - The story just sort of ended. I guess I didn't realize that there was a follow up. But they hit the climax with a few chapters left. Figured we were going to have one of those "oh he really wasn't dead" sort of moments. We did not and the story just sort of ended.
I think we understood it was set in the 20's. I think she could have used the colloquialisms much lighter.
Sweet jesus-ski. The chipper-ski dialog was the just the elephant's butthole. Yeah, that all got really old.
I am a school counselor that loves horror, fantasy, autobiographies, self-help, and Christian genres. I am a BIG bookworm! Reading is life!
Captivating, thrilling, and historical.
The most memorable moment for me was when Blind Bill put his hands on Isaiah and caused him to go unconscious. I was so shocked and pissed off that he would exploit a child's gift in order to better himself. I know he's a bum, but I did not see that coming. Then, I did not understand why he threw Ms. Williams under the bus to Octavia? There are others but it will spoil the book.
I have not listened to January LaVoy before, but she is my favorite narrator now! She did a phenomenal job separating the characters through voices and accents. I was blown away! She made the story come alive for me and I would have not gotten that experience if I had read it myself.
Yes, I was anxious to know if they would figure out that they were dealing with a demon and how the heck they were going to destroy him!
If you love the 20s and paranormal stories then you will love this book! The author did an amazing job at creating solid characters and a smooth plot using a historical background. I wanted to know if there was actually a person that killed people under the persona naughty John in New York.
The author does a good job fleshing out each of the different characters and giving them a unique voice. Evie in particular is good example of how to do a flawed protagonist (she can be quite selfish, short sighted and even annoying at times) who is still heroic. Of all of the point of view characters so far I’ve enjoyed Memphis and Theta the most. Hopefully in the next books Mabel, Henry and Sam (not to mention the Chinese waitress) will get a little more attention.
Be warned that a lot of the mysteries surrounding the characters are not resolved, and are being saved for future books.
Overall the reader is good giving the characters distinct voices.One problem though is that she should really brush up on her pronunciation. There are quite a few words she just doesn’t say correctly (rifling in particular is used often enough in the book to be very annoying).
The story wasn't awful, but I wouldn't recommend the book just for the story. The characters don't develop much, the plot feels formulaic (or classic, I suppose, depending on one's point of view), and there's a lot of extraneous descriptive detail to make it clear that the author did a LOT of research about the time period. It's the narrative performance by January LaVoy that puts this over the top from "meh" into "highly entertaining" territory. She's very good, and I'm looking forward to the next installment.
The era, the 20s slang, the ominous threat of supernatural doom, the realistic and palpable frustrations of the young heroine, the variety and diversity of the characters! Great stuff.
The main character Evie is great, not too Mary Sue-ish but a bit naive and a little insensitive. I loved the complex and troubled Theta, and her roommate Henry seemed like a sweetheart, too. Uncle Will? Mabel? Jericho? Sam? All wonderful. But my favorite? Naughty John! Otherwise they wouldn't have had anything to do...
The opening scene! A ouija board! A carefree flapper party! And a terrible evil unleashed upon an unsuspecting world!
I wished I could have read it when I was 17.
As with many Libba Bray books,the ending got away from her. That being said, the beginning is always good enough that I am willingly, knowingly, prepared for a confused finish.
Libba Bray's trilogy that begins with A Great and Terrible Beauty was wonderful. I've read, and listened, to each book many times. Her next offering, Beauty Queens, was the worst book I've ever listened to on Audible since 2003. And this, The Diviners, is the second.
The main character is unsympathetic, to the point of being unlikable. Most of the other characters are flat. Apparently the author thought so too because in the end, there is no explanation of what happens to them.
Its not frightening. Though there are two scenes that are sickening and unnecessary - a wife being beaten (graphically and at great length) and an animal being sacrificed. Shame on the author for trying for violent titillation in a book that's supposed to be for young people.
The narrator is okay when just narrating but she contributes to the unlike-ability of the heroine, her very high voice with no emotion persuading the listener how shallow the character is. The two main male characters have apparently had lobotomies, they are performed with such tedium.
Do try Ms. Bray's trilogy but give this one a miss.
The prose is very nice, and the 20's are well researched. The performance is good quality, with the wide range of voices being well done and distinct.
Unfortunately, the plot is crap. I hate to put it that way but it was like an anti-firework. Started off with great promise, and exploded in such a way as to spoil what good came before. The main character's chief personal challenge, articulated in the beginning of the book, is being short sighted and selfish. By the end of the book, she's a petulant, disloyal, self centered, publicity hound. The magical rules established don't apply to the main character. The efforts expended in gathering information and items to defeat the villain are worthless because apparently you don't need specific artifacts, rituals or even anything relevant to the plot action to win if you feel special enough about your own lucky charm. Add on that the majority of characters, characters with several chapters devoted to them, have no impact on the resolution of the story at all.
"Evil rising - only psychic jazz babies can save us"
This is awesome. There's a murderer in New York leaving gruesomely displayed corpses with arcane messages. Teenage flapper, Evie, has disgraced herself back home and been sent to stay with her uncle in Manhattan as a "punishment". He's an expert in the supernatural and is called in to help the police. Gradually we meet a cast of diverse characters who all have secrets in their past and some of them have powers they don't fully understand. 1920s New York comes alive around you. I love all the jazz age slang and historical scene setting which is never heavy handed and adds to the atmosphere of the story.
I thought it ended a little bit abruptly but is clearly setting up a series which will doubtless focus on different characters and I can't wait to listen to that too.
January La Voy is FABULOUS. She is almost as good as Rupert Degas which is the highest praise I can give to a reader. Her characterisation is spot on. Every character has a distinct and clear voice of their own. She only fails on an Irish accent but as it's an isolated incident I can forgive her.
One tiny tiny tiny quibble about something that wouldn't be a problem on the page. Right at the beginning, some words are spelt out on a ouija board and it's done letter by letter quite fast with no recap so I had to go back and listen a couple of times to get the sense. Derp!
"Chilling and Thrilling"
o I finally read my first Libba Bray novel! I'm so glad I finally picked up something from this author, but I have to admit this was a lengthy story. Although, I didn't have to read it, because I was read to by the January LaVoy. LaVoy joins Rupert Degas as one of my favourite narrators.
Evie comes across as frivolous and superficial when the story begins. She's determined to live life to the fullest and is a compulsive liar, simply because she's living life at a thousand miles an hour. Why slow down and give a truthful, uncomplicated answer when you can reel off a fantastical tale. Initially, I was really disappointed that she was the main character, but slowly I started to sympathise. Sure she's enjoying life, but that's the superficial tale, and she believes it and others do...but what's really driving this desperate clutching at parties, people and distractions? What happened to her relationship with her parents after a family tragedy, and could this be at the heart of her lifestyle choice, her desperate attempts to be seen and recognized and praised?
Set in the roaring twenties (1920s) the dialogue is filled with slang and the obsession with celebrity rivals our modern times. I didn't expect the story to get more and more sinister. I thought the murders would be described in a detached way, after all there was just a slight hint at the supernatural to start with, but then all of a sudden there are gruesome murders and such gory, skin tingling, hair raising nastiness that I found myself creeped out!
The Diviners offers scares, thought-provoking sub-plots and wonderful characters. Evie is joined by such a wonderful cast of supporting characters that I'm desperate to get my hands on the sequel to find out what happens to everyone next. Domestic violence, racial discrimination and even a sci-fi element feature in the lives of her friends. I'll be counting down the days to the next installment :)
"Brilliant! The roaring magical 20s brought to life"
I had no expectations of this book and narration as I didn't know the author's work. What a fantastic surprise. The narration was also superlative.
"Performance better than story"
It was read beautifully but unfortunately the plot didn't really pick up until half way
"You Won't Regret Spending Your Time With This"
This is a good book. You will not regret spending your time here. I sure as hell didn't. This book had been recommended to me over and over again, specifically in audio format, so I was excited to start.
The setting and tone really sell this book. Spooky 1920s New York? Yes please. Most of the characters are incredibly real and so full of life. There are a couple I found to be a little bland and/or annoying at times, but for one of these characters I think that it is just a representation of his personality, but for the other I think just missed me. He is supposed to be a very interesting love interest, and I just wasn't into him.
Evie, the main character, I found to be very likeable. She's outgoing, spunky (there's a word I don't use often!), and makes honest mistakes. She's brave and we both share a certain morbid curiosity.
The only negatives I can say about the book is that I found that it dragged a little in places, seemed to be a bit on the long side for what was going on, and most of my favourite parts of the book seem to have been set up for future books. I plan to listen to Lair of Dreams, the sequel, next month, so I have my fingers crossed that my favourite characters will actually have a chance to shine.
Definitely give this one a go.
"The narrator of this makes it absolutely fabulous"
The story is good but what really drew me in to this story was the fabulous voice acting. Definitely recommend for YA and even adults who like a good story.
This book grabbed me right away and held my interest. The 1920s lingo helped to create a period feel. I'm not easily spooked but there were some genuinely creepy moments. I can't wait to read the next book.
"Nice period language and a very good narrator"
A very cool story from the 1920-ies in New York. I particularly love the jargon, and the mixed genre discerned from the subject matter. January LaVoy is excellent, even a rusty old blues singer is believably rendered, and she adds to my understanding of the different characters' voices and sociolects.
"Don't listen to this alone in the dark."
The plot, it took me a while to get into- perseverance was both necessary and rewarding though and once it warmed up it was a fantastic book.
The nursery rhyme- chilling and eerie it sticks in your mind!
That New York accent, it was brilliant, really took me to the streets and speakeasies of the Big Apple.
This book would need no tagline and I hope to God nobody turns this into a film because it is perfect without the harsh and unnecessary abridging a screenwriter's pen would bring.
"Great performance, a damn good book - near perfect"
Yes, absolutely, if I thought they would enjoy a grisly supernatural mystery in roaring 20's New York. Even for those who wouldn't normally try this genre, I'd urge them to give it a go.
Evie O'Neill is a glorious central character. She's bratty and spiteful, flippant and entitled, but Bray manages to make her compelling and sympathetic, showing how her exterior hides a damaged heart and her compassion and kindness make her other traits more understandable.
It might be my limited experience of American accents but she was wonderful at evoking characters by accent and tone. Her narration was pleasant to listen to throughout but the different character voices made it really come alive.
Yes, though its length made that impossible! I certainly didn't want to put it down and I was eager to get back to listening whenever I could.
I cannot wait for the sequel! While the plotline was fast-paced and enjoyable, it did end up dragging a little at the end, but only in comparison to the wonderful pace of the rest of the novel, and the well-drawn characters meant there was no chance of me stopping listening!
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