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For today’s Fiction Friday we tried something a little different – Stephanie, Kati, and I all decided to read the same book and then have a mini book discussion about it, which we’ll be publishing in part here. Kati chose Libba Bray’s “The Diviners,” and since it was on Stephanie’s TBR pile and I’d been curious about it for a while, it was a lock.

A quick warning before we begin – we tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there might be a few small ones…be warned.

First, we all had to figure out how to use google chat:

Heidi Lang has her fingers crossed

Kati:  \fingers crossed

Heidi:  Heh heh…Kati messed up…

Kati:  I still haven’t figured out how to do that….

Heidi:  You do a forward slash “me” first, and then type

Heidi Lang knows how to do all

Stephanie:  I don’t know how to do that either… ooh. Lol!

Kati:  /”me” ???

Heidi:  No! me w/o quotes!

Kati:  \me is hiding…Nope, still not working.

Stephanie:  close! /

Heidi:  No! Forward slash!

Kati is hiding?

Heidi: 😀  

Stephanie:  Yay!  

Heidi:  Okay, now that we got the important stuff figured out…

Kati:  Ok…Diviners….

Heidi:  Exactly.

Stephanie:  Let’s go!

And then it was onto the book discussion!

Heidi:  My first question is to Kati. Why did you choose this book?

Kati:  Because I liked A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray. Also, the premise sounded really interesting. A creepy paranormal story that takes place in the 20s? Total awesomeness!

Heidi:  Don’t you mean it sounded like the berries? ;)

Kati:  The cat’s meow!

Stephanie:  I thought it was a great choice…although I got a little nervous when it got to my house and I saw it was almost 600 pages… I was like, I really hope this book is good.

Kati:  Lol! I was nervous when I noticed that, too!

Heidi:  I was pretty excited to read it, too…until I started the prologue and realized it had a creepy ouiji board in it! Those things freak me out!

Stephanie:  I laughed so hard when Heidi sent the email asking why we picked such a creepy book!

Kati:  Me too.  

Heidi:  Well, I’m glad my suffering amused you people… >; p

Kati:  While we’re on the subject of the prologue, what did you guys think of it? I wasn’t sure it was entirely necessary.

Stephanie:  Haha! I was just going to ask that!

Kati:  I must be a diviner. 😉

Stephanie:  For sure!

Heidi:  I thought it set the tone of the book…but I also don’t think it was really necessary. I mean, I liked the bit about Naughty John and how he said he was going to teach them fear – that was nicely creepy, but then we never saw those characters again, so it felt a little…tacked on.

Kati:  I agree. I also didn’t like how it was in a different tense from the rest of the book.

Stephanie:  I totally agree…I think it did a great job setting the tone, but I think it would have been much better without it. Since most of the book was about who the murderer is, I felt like it would have been even more exiting if I hadn’t read the prologue. Or I would have at least liked to have seen those characters again. And yes, I didn’t care for the third person present tense either!

Heidi:  What did you both think of the setting? Why the 1920s?

Kati:  I loooooved the setting!

Stephanie:  I loved the setting, too!!!

Kati:  It made me really want to go to a speakeasy.

Stephanie:  Yeah! I want to go somewhere that requires a password! I don’t think there was a single moment that I didn’t feel as if I was in the 1920’s!

Heidi:  Who was your favorite character? Least favorite? I didn’t love Memphis, although he grew on me near the end.

Kati:  I wouldn’t say he was my least favorite character, he just was a little boring…I’m not really sure who my least favorite character was though. I mostly liked them all.

Stephanie:  Yeah… I liked Memphis, I just liked reading about Evie more, I think she was my favorite… but I actually liked all the characters, too.

Kati:  Evie was my favorite, too.  

Heidi:  One thing I really liked about Evie was she was kind of different from the usual YA protagonist. Usually it seems like it’s the quiet, boring, more plain girl who is the main character, and then her best friend is the super outgoing beautiful one. It was kind of nice seeing the switch here.

Stephanie:  I noticed that too. I liked that about her. It made her such a fun character, and it also made her struggles so different. It was kinda nice that she had very different strengths and weaknesses from other YA heroines. I really liked how she worked so hard to help Will’s museum.

Kati:  She could be selfish, but it was really those acts of kindness that made her stand out. 

Stephanie:  This is a little off topic, but I was really glad that Kati warned me there were so many characters! I think I might have been a little confused when I started, otherwise.

Kati:  Glad to be of service.  😉

Heidi:  There were a lot of characters…do you think there were too many, or did it work for you? You don’t usually see so many in a YA book, either.

Kati:  It threw me off at first, but I don’t think it bogged down the story.

Heidi:  Yeah, I thought it worked alright, I think because the chapters all moved along quickly and all the characters felt fleshed out and solid, so I could keep them apart fairly easily in my mind.

Stephanie:  That’s a tough question…I know that she’s building up a lot of stuff for later books, so I hate to say I think she could get rid of so and so, but I felt like some of the Memphis storyline really dragged down the pace, and I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more tie in with him… ya know. I think I would have just liked a little less…if that makes sense?

Heidi:  Yeah, I can see that.

Kati:  I can see that as well.

Stephanie:  Yeah… but I did like seeing what his job as number runner was like, and some of the stuff with his brother was cool… I just felt some of it dragged. I think I would have liked to have seen more with Sam!

Heidi:  One thing I liked about Memphis’ chapters is how they dealt with race. I feel like it’s usually a lot more heavy-handed, especially in YA, but they don’t even describe the color of Memphis’ skin when we meet him – they just describe him as a good looking boy, and we figure everything else out through context. I really liked that.

Stephanie:  She did do a good job with that! It didn’t feel heavy handed or stereotypical at all. I didn’t feel there was anything in this book that really forced me to suspend my disbelief, which I think says a lot, since it was a 1920’s paranormal. 

Heidi:  What did you think about Jericho’s romance with Evie?

Stephanie:  I liked the romance… I wish there had been a little more! If I had magical powers, I’d probably be on the lookout for someone else different like me, too.

Kati:  But just wait till she finds out about Sam’s powers.

Heidi:  Ah yes. Sam.

Stephanie:  You might be right…I think I see a love triangle forming

Kati:  Oh yeah.

Heidi:  There’s definitely a bit of a triangle here. But for some reason, I don’t really mind it in this case. Not sure why? Maybe because it doesn’t feel like there’s one good choice only.

Stephanie:  Exactly, Heidi!

Heidi:  So Stephanie, I have to ask, are you “Team Jericho” or “Team Sam”? 

Stephanie:  I’m team Jericho! But I still really like Sam!

Kati:  Sorry….I’m team Sam. I like Jericho, but I tend to like tricksters best….

Heidi:  I’m Team Sam, with hints of guilt about Jericho…

Kati:  Hear hear!

Stephanie thinks the sisters are ganging up on her.

Heidi:  Heh heh. Sorry, Stephanie. 😉 So. Would you two recommend this book?

Kati:  Definitely! Great characters, great setting, great writing….

Stephanie:  Only if you’re not easily scared 

Heidi:  Heh heh. Hey, if I can get through it, anyone can, I say. 😉 So, how did this book compare to Libba Bray’s other books?

Stephanie:  This is the first Libba Bray book I’ve read.

Kati:  A Great and Terrible Beauty had really believable characters, too. However, there were less of them.

Heidi:  I think she does a great job creating strong female characters who don’t just feel like stereotypes or cookie cutters, and who have genuine flaws that make them seem like real people.

Kati:  She’s also really good at paranormal in historical settings.

Heidi:  Are you planning on reading the sequel to The Diviners?

Kati: Yeah, I’m totally getting the sequel.

Stephanie:  It depends on the reviews it gets…I’m curious to see where the story goes, but I’m always nervous about sequels, ya know?

And that’s a wrap! So now I’ll turn to all of you – have you read The Diviners before? If so, what did you think of it? And if not, are you planning on reading it? I definitely recommend it!