Picking up where I left off about a month ago. So this is sort of a first impression opinion post.
When I first read Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series, this phenomenon seemed to happen: I just could NOT get into the story at all. A Great and Terrible Beauty had some beautiful writing and great attention to detail. I don't know what it was, but I had started reading the book and put it on hold a total of three times before I finally hunkered down and got past that strange barrier. And after that, I enjoyed the book alright -- it wasn't the best of reads, but it was enough to keep me hooked in and interested.
And now, with The Diviners, the same exact thing has happened.
Here is a brief rundown of my thoughts written by the chapter up to how far I'd gotten before I put it on hold due to one series marathon, new book releases, and other interests...
First Chapter: A Late-Summer Evening
I'm sure I skimmed over half of this chapter without really knowing what the significance of describing an entire city in intricate detail merits if we won't even be seeing it again. As far as the summary depicts, our heroine is leaving the town anyway. The scenes taking place with the Ouija board and then the very last paragraph of the entire chapter were the only parts I cared enough about to pay attention to... so, whatevs.
I've read this first chapter three times (due to that mental block that keeps drawing me away from this book), and it still doesn't get any better. If anything, I'm starting to wonder if this is my blatant disinterest in historical fiction, or if Libba Bray's introductory style just turns me off since I had the same problem with A Great and Terrible Beauty. While I love her writing style, her pacing just hits me as being kind of slow.
Second Chapter: Evie O'Neill, Zenith, Ohio
No big comments.
Not sure how I like Evie right now -- spoiled, snobbish, selfish, destructive trouble-maker... Things I absolutely hate in main characters. Then again, she's different and outlandish, so this might be fun and unconventional from typical YA females. I certainly ended up liking Gemma Doyla in a neutral I-don't-outright-hate-you way by the time I finished the last book in that trilogy. Not saying that I loved her or that I'll love Evie, but we'll see where this goes.
Dialogue and narration might be a bit tacky, but I'm not familiar enough with 1920s lingo to know whether or not this fits the time period. As I've mentioned, my interest in historical fiction is a little on the meh side. However, I might start up a counter for how many times someone says "pos-i-tute-ly" or ends their exclamations with a "-ski". I feel like a teenager trying not to roll my eyes at the thought of lame parents trying to sound cool...
Third Chapter: Memphis Campbell, Harlem, New York City
Not much to go on. Moving along now.
Fourth Chapter: The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies
I totally want to see a Museum of Creepy Crawlies (says the nerd in me). Cause THAT is an interesting chapter title too.
Anyway... about the book itself:
"If God is an all-knowing, all-powerful deity, how can he allow evil to exist? Either he is not the omnipotent god we've been told, or he is all-powerful and all-knowing, and also cruel, because he allows evil to exist and does nothing to stop it."
"Well, that certainly explains Prohibition..."
-- page 37, Nook edition
Yeah. I can't believe it actually started getting a little exciting. I should have seen it coming. I wish I would have caught up with the museum and Uncle Will before I had decided to start a new book (nay, a completely new SERIES of four books I borrowed from the library that lasted me four weeks since THAT excursion flopped as well...)
Evie, Evie, Evie... maybe it's the nerd in me speaking. While I like your penchant for sarcasm and wit... how could you NOT find interest in the free guided tour of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult? I could spend hours in a place like that and never get bored. And Jericho, the young history nerd buff? I'm interested already! :D
Setting that aside...We're jumping into the thick of the story now: The Diviners is finally coming to light. I'm almost wondering if she couldn't have shortened the first three chapters into one prologue to show us the "troublesome Evie" stuff and introduce Memphis, then send her off to New York. And then, Chapter Two, BANG! we get into the religious controversy speeches with a dash of Diviners talk laced into it.
Then again, I guess even if I didn't know how to appreciate the build-up from the first three chapters, others might find it good.
Looks like this is the chapter that finally did it for me and I choose not to drop the book for this reason.
Gemma Doyle hooked me with character development and writing style and story creation. Hopefully The Diviners does the same. As a first impression, I see a very solid 3 star rating in this book's future. If reading a book feels like such a chore to me, it's hard to give it more than an average rating even if I end up enjoying it in the end. Unless there's some surprisingly pleasant twist or whatever that truly catches me in awe.
So we'll leave it at that for now.