Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Book Review: Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3) by Libba Bray

Published: October 3, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Pages: 552

New York City.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming...

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

Thoughts: It's been about four years since I read the previous book in this series, which basically meant that it took me some time to reacquaint myself with all of the characters and get back into the story. I only have a partial memory of how things ended in the last book, but what I mostly remember is that I didn't like it nearly as much as I enjoyed the first book in the series. What about this one, you wonder? 

Though it did take me a little bit of time to get back into it, it felt like the story picked up pace a bit more in comparison to the previous book. I feel like the last one had some character introductions it had to focus on more than this one, which made this one flow a bit better for me. But nonetheless this book does have a lot of characters to keep up with - Evie, Sam, Jericho, Mabel, Memphis, Theta, Henry, Ling... Yeah. However I felt like Bray did a good job of focusing on the characters that needed focusing and had a nice balancing act between everyone. The story kept moving forward and it didn't feel like any person's individual story was doing anything but advancing it as well. 

This book also does a good job of making all of its characters very diverse. You have a whole range of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, and more represented among our core group of Diviners. The story is also, sadly, still very relevant to what's happening in society today. It's set back in the '20s in New York, and delves a lot into racism, sexism, and the rise of eugenics and just the general idea that some people are better than others. You'd never guess all of that from the synopsis, but it all plays a pretty large role in how things connect and who the real "bad guys" are. But yeah, you can see how this is all still relevant, and sometimes that made me kind of angry to think how little has changed in some ways.

Some of the book can be quite spooky when dealing with angry ghosts and creepy men running experiments on people. I've decided to jump right into the last book in the series so I don't have to remember everything from this one down the line. I'm not sure what to think of the actual enemy of the series, this King of Crows dude/creature, but the next book is probably going to focus more on that. Hopefully it all comes to a satisfying end! 

Would I recommend this series to others? If you're into this sort of story, sure. There are some books I recommend regardless of taste preference, but this series I would say only if you're into this sort of thing to begin with.

Rating: 3.5/5

Buy on Amazon

What I'm Reading Next: The King of Crows by Libba Bray

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