Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book Review: Before the Devil Breaks You

Title: Before the Devil Breaks You (Diviners #3)
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fantasy | Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Purchased
Format: Physical

New York City.1927.Lights are bright.Jazz is king.Parties are wild.And the dead are coming...
After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of 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 fact-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 (goodreads)

Reading Before the Devil Breaks You made me feel like I was watching Infinity War all over again. I am broken. 
Plot: Holy mother of God, this series is pure genius! Before the Devil Breaks You served more as a two-parter for the epic finale between the Diviners and the King of Crows, but nothing felt unnecessary or like filler. The hard part about writing reviews for sequels is that you have to be insanely vague because NO ONE likes spoilers, so let me take a stab at it!

This was the novel that Evie and company got their answers. We learned more about Project Buffalo, how Diviners came to be, and how Will and Sister Walker were connected; I don't think I could count the times my mouth fell open in shock. Where Before the Devil Breaks You differed from The Diviners and Lair of Dreams was that there wasn't an entity that the group had to destroy. There were ghosts who committed terrible crimes and set New York City on edge, but they mostly served as puppets for the Ultimate Boss Battle, because of that, I felt that the focus wasn't so much on the paranormal. Instead, there was a lot of backstory to each of the Diviners and what purpose they had.

Characters: Like all of these books, it's the characters that stole the show in Before the Devil Breaks You. I was happy to see Ling join the group and explore her own struggles. This was the time for decisions and all of the Diviners had sacrifices to make. Surprisingly, the character who I enjoyed reading about the most was Theta. Before the Devil Breaks You explored her past before she became Theta Knight, and how she fit in with the group of Diviners.

I'm still waiting for Evie's full transformation. In Lair of Dreams, it felt like she hit rock bottom and I was hoping that Before the Devil Breaks You would lead to her growth, but it looks like The Sweetheart Seer has a bit more growing to do.

Another character I was happy to see in  Before the Devil Breaks You was Mabel. Her previous story arcs made it seem like she was destined to play the side character, but it was good to see her take charge of her life in this book and choose right from wrong.

And now lastly, the romance. The subtle love triangle between Evie, Sam, and Jericho wasn't so subtle in Before the Devil Breaks You and I didn't like how quickly Evie could go from one or the other. I have always been Team Jericho and I have a few choice words about his arc in Before the Devil Breaks You (none are good). At this point, I would rather Evie be alone as it seemed that she was just jumping from guy to guy as a distraction.

Worldbuilding: I'm under the impression that Libba Bray is a literary genius; she makes writing seem so easy and effortless!I What I loved about Before the Devil Breaks You was the subtle jabs at current American politics and how we're fated to repeat our atrocities. I don't want to know how much research this series requires, but I appreciate Libba Bray for writing the glitz and glam of 1920s America while never forgetting the genocide, inequality, and blood that helped pave the way for a small percentage of those who deemed themselves "true Americans."

 There was a line in the author's note that really made me sit and think; Libba said that she wrote Before the Devil Breaks You to acknowledge the ghosts of America's past and for all of us to realize that we live in a haunted house. I think that line will stay with me for a long time.

Short N Sweet: Before the Devil Breaks You will leave you wanting more. If you haven't read this series yet, now is the perfect time to start!


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