books and cleverness

I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective. 


I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:

***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book

The Diviners

The Diviners - Libba Bray

I'm debating between 2 and 3 stars. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and in that time still have not been able to figure out what to say about it, other than that I read it. Then I saw the closing sentences in this review: "Bray empties a wealth of topics into her complicated narrative—labor reform, a steampunkish robotics experiment, flapper culture, religious zealotry—but her trademark humor is less apparent. The large cast...ensures there’s plenty to write about in the sequels." And I think that pretty much captures it, not-really-flattering-tone and all. The jazz slang is fun. The characters are pretty flat, defined by a) their type (The Ziegfield Girl. The Harlem Poet. The Rakish Pickpocket. The Eccentric Uncle. The Quiet Friend. The Creepy Old Ladies.) and b) whatever their special gift is, rather than by personality. And it does feel as though it has all these elements dumped into it simply for the sake of More Stuff to Write about Later.