I mean, who couldn’t use a long, engrossing series to read right now?
After about ten years, The Diviners came to an end this February, and finally, after rereading the first three books, I finished the series! And you guys, I’m pleased to say that it’s now officially taken its place on my ‘all time favorite series’ list, despite a few small hiccups.
It is, weirdly, said hiccups that gave me the idea to give you an in-depth review of the series that will hopefully be useful and interesting for those who have and have not read the series.
I used a code to hide the spoilers, and while it was working fine when I finished writing the post, somehow it crashed since then. To solve this issue, I clearly marked the spoilers and the end of spoiler-y parts, and I even made the font smaller so you can just scroll past them. 🙂
REVIEWING THE DIVINERS BY LIBBA BRAY
Before we jump into this review – I can’t be the only one who struggles with starting reviews!? I should crack a joke or share something deep to capture your ATTENTION, but as I’m neither funny nor wise, this is a real struggle. Either way, the characters are my favorite part of the series, so uh, let’s jump into why I love them, I guess?
Okay, so! I bloody love this cast! They are entertaining and complex, and they have slowly become this adorable little found family throughout the series, which, yes, is my favorite trope. They are so so so different, which leads to lots of conflicts (not to mention that not everyone is best friends within the group) but it is due to these differences that they fit together so nicely. They complement each other.
What’s fun about this cast, and how the series is written, is that each novel concentrates on different members of the cast – with the exception of the final one, maybe, because that did give them near-equal page time – yet they all manage to shine. Obviously, I had my favorites, but I genuinely loved everyone, including Jericho, who I could not have imagined liking prior to the final novel.
Sadly, with the exception of Jericho, the final novel did not contain as many outstanding scenes with our beloved characters as expected. In fact, it felt a bit like Bray has used up all her best ideas already. Some of the things the characters revealed, said, or did felt repetitive and, dare I say, boring.
Spoilers: A good example of this is Isaiah. I think he grew way too much during the series to still be complaining about “being left out” due to his age. After the nth time, this felt so inauthentic, especially when this was, at parts, his whole personality. Do better for younger characters (compared to the rest of the cast), authors, I beg you! End of spoilers.
Besides the friendship and found family aspect, the romance in the series is also noteworthy. I think I’m not the only one who feels iffy about love triangles, and boy, was I bothered by the one between Sam, Evie and Jericho. I didn’t see the point behind it when each of the three was interesting in their own right, and given how intriguing the books were, there really was no need for further drama.
Spoilers: To be fair, the love triangle was a-okay at first, when all feelings between Evie and Sam, and Evie and Jericho were tentative and light. However, as Sam and Evie’s relationship deepened in the final book, I was increasingly frustrated by her on-going attraction to and feelings for Jericho. Even so, I was baffled when it was brushed off with a “she just wanted him to keep liking her for selfish reasons.” Not because it couldn’t have been true, rather because I don’t think a three and a half book long romantic interest can be resolved that fast. To make matters worse, Evie and Sam never even discussed her feeling for Jericho, and to me that didn’t feel like Sam saying “I trust you” (which would be healthy), rather, it felt like Evie and Sam both ignoring the elephant in the room until it was resolved. I don’t know, mate… this love triangle was drawn out as fuck just to then be resolved in five sentences. *sighs* End of spoilers.
Sam and Evie, though, really stole my heart. I loved their banter and how, despite their best tries, they were continuously growing closer as the series progressed. It was, in part, due to all their sass and arguments that their cute, wholesome moments hit hard every single time.
That is not to say that the other relationships didn’t affect me. I loved Henry and Ling’s respective relationships, as well as Theta and Memphis, who were so damn lovely together. I don’t much care for love at first sight – and that is what we have here, I’d say – but this was done well, really-really well.
I believe Bray is in incredible writer – she does her research and creates realistic historical settings that do not brush away the problems of the time. Yes, the 1920s were glamorous… for certain parts of the population. She addresses the issues of the time, while presenting them in way that makes them comparable to our society today. Essentially, we see the good, the bad, and the abominable of the 1920s, which is what makes this series feel authentic.
Finally, props have to be given to Bray for being an excellent story teller – every part of the story feels thoughtfully written. The books are long and detailed, and – with the exception of the final novel, where I was overwhelmed by all the parts that could have been edited out – they are masterfully plotted. Each scene is significant one way or another, which shows in how the characters, most of whom don’t know each other at the beginning, slowly come together.
Spoilers. Regarding the final novel, I was frustrated by how boring and tedious it was at parts. The main action took, I think, 100 pages, and the rest of the novel was filled with insignificant parts. Also, I can’t be the only one frustrated by the characters – who are, generally speaking, intelligent – still not realizing that they shouldn’t be “killing” the ghosts? The end of Before the Devil Breaks You showed that they were FINALLY understanding that what they do is wrong… just so they could continue it in this novel, and be surprised when shit hit the fan because of it. End of spoilers.
Without spoiling anything, I need to mention that the ending of the series was not as satisfying as I expected. Much of it left me uninterested and bored, so my four star rating is solely thanks to fact that I would DIE for these characters. The way some things were handled made little sense, and uh, for those who read the final novel, I’m going to list a few things under the spoiler tag.
Spoilers: Jericho’s relationship was a weird way to end the love triangle, and his death was kind of a cheap way of killing someone of the “main cast” but sticking to the least liked character. Mabel’s death was heartbreaking in the previous novel, so I’m glad the grief remained in this too, but the way it did, meh. On top of that, Will also died in the third book, just for his death to be barely addressed and then promptly forgotten? Same about Jericho at the end of book 4. I am confusion. On a different note, I COULD HAVE SWORN (and I’ve just reread the rest of the series!!) that it was strongly hinted that the young girl they sought out in The King of Crows was not good?? So for that to be the twist in the final book… phew, wtf. Finally, the ending and resolution came a bit too easily, with certain things making no sense, e.g. at one point, they said that they would all suffer radiation from the machine but in the end they didn’t? Memphis gave up all his power, but was still able to gain back enough to save the day? End of spoilers.
Overall, I adore this series. From where I’m standing, its first half is stronger than its second, but nonetheless, it comes highly recommended for me. If you love excellent, realistic friendship, cute relationships, complex characters, and an engrossing, detailed historical setting, The Diviners is perfect for you.
What’s your favorite historical fantasy novel or series? Any found family/excellent friendship novel I should be aware of? (I love, love, love this trope, no matter the genre.) Have you read The Diviners? Do your agree with my thoughts? Who is your favorite/least favorite character? Book? Romance? (From the series.)
Please, share your thoughts! I’d love to chat about this series. 🙂