Title: Before the Devil Breaks You (Diviners #3)
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural
Other: Amazon, GoodReads
Grade: C (3/5)
This post will contain spoilers for the book series. If you would like to read my review for the first book, The Diviners, click here.
This was one of those books I was waiting anxiously for. I read the first two books last summer, and the third installment didn’t come out until October, and then I was on a wait list at the library just to read the darn thing. Anyway, my point is that sometimes when you wait too long, you set yourself up for disappointment. I’ll get to that later.
I enjoyed this series because the story was creative and interesting, and I wanted to see how everything came together. Evie, Memphis, Theta, Sam, Henry, and Ling are all Diviners. They each have a special gift, and no one is really sure where that gift came from. Evie can read objects, Sam can become invisible, Memphis can heal, and so on. But more importantly, they tend to get themselves into trouble with ghosts. In this book, that trouble has escalated. It’s more dangerous. And more importantly, some of the mysteries in the series are starting to be solved.
There’s also diversity, and those diverse characters are main characters. Furthermore, Bray seems to have a good understanding of what challenges her characters might face because of their differences. It is never glossed over, and she isn’t afraid to explore unsavory truths.
The characters have also grown. Well, some of them. I feel like some characters are still essentially the same as they were (like Memphis and Henry). But Sam and Evie? They’ve both grown into characters I like. Okay, I’ve liked them since the beginning, but they’re just a little less…bratty?
However, this book was disappointing, and I’m not entirely sure I’ll read the next installment.
The story is muddled between the several viewpoints its told in. Granted, I don’t particularly like books with multiple POVs. I tend to pick a character I like, and that’s the character I want to read about. Despite this, there is such a thing as having too many perspectives, and Libba Bray has done just that. Like I said, there’s Henry, Ling, Evie, Sam, Theta, and Memphis. And those are just the Diviners. There’s also Mabel and Jericho. And sometimes, she dips into other perspectives. A nurse at the local insane asylum. The homeless guy who lives with Memphis. The villain. And honestly, it’s just too much.
Because of this, I found myself skimming over several chapters. It was mainly the chapters from Mabel;s perspective because honestly, what was the point of that? She’s a boring character, and her story really isn’t important to the main plot.
There were also times when Bray was too preachy. Before I go into this, remember that this book is set in the 1920s. One of the new characters lives in an asylum at a time when psychology was in its earliest stages. Lobotomies were considered a form of treatment. And yes, Bray does explore the problems with this. But she also has an entire chapter dedicated to a young nurse who sees the problems in how the mentally ill are treated. Furthermore, she seems to have a really profound understanding of depression and the like. Ultimately, this felt incredibly unrealistic for the time period and completely unneccessary to the book. Essentially, it was one of the MANY times Bray seemed to include something pointless to plot and character development (because the nurse was hardly even a minor character) just to give herself a soapbox.
And honestly, it just wasn’t that scary. The other two books were scary (at times). This wasn’t, and that was unexpected.
Finally, some of Bray’s plot/character decisions felt like a cheap way out. For example, there’s a love triangle at the center of the book between Evie, Jericho, and Sam. How Bray solved that love triangle was not only incredibly crappy, but felt completely unrealistic for that character. It was a bunch of bologna. And I wasn’t even rooting for that character, but the point still stands.
Ultimately, I think that this installment will leave fans of The Diviners series wanting more. It just wasn’t quite as good as the last. However, it does leave on a horrible cliffhanger that might pull in those of who were disappointed into wanting to read the fourth book.