Monday, November 6, 2017

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

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

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that nearly 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 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.
I love Libba Bray. I often refer to her as my favorite author. She’s an unbelievably talented writer. The trouble with these books is that they take her a very long time to write. They could take years. And this one ended depressingly badly in a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. How long must I wait to find out what happens next? 1 year? 2? 3? Maybe hold off on reading this one if you can, until the next installment. The ending is brutal.
The story was magnificent. The setting, the characters, the supernatural world this author weaves into historic context is just beyond anything I’ve come to expect in any author. I want to live in her words. I want to go to this NYC, where booze is illegal and ghosts are out for revenge. I want to dance with Evie, fight for my dreams like Theta, stand up for the working man with Mabel, get into trouble with Sam, write poetry with Memphis, play music with Henry, and learn science with Ling. I don’t just love these characters; I wish I could physically hang out with them. I feel like I know them.
Somehow, Bray is able to throw in everything to the mix. I was actually terrified in the scenes that took place in the asylum. There is nothing as creepy as evil ghosts who can control the unsuspecting bystander and make them do monstrous/murderous things.  I cried my eyes out for a character who was betrayed in the worst of ways. I was practically pacing to see what ramifications would occur for a possible explosion. I fell in love with Sam all over again. I shipped him and Evie so hard in this book, though I think like Evie, I used to be a little divided between him and Jericho.  And I felt so terrified for Jericho and everything he endured just to survive. The mystery with Sam’s mom was so good.
Stuff finally resolves with Memphis’ creepy neighbor. A lot is learned about Project Buffalo. There is a lot of sleuthing, plotting, betraying, escaping, and mayhem. Also, this book is political and relevant to today’s heightened arguments about immigration and racism.  This book is also loaded with all kinds of diverse romance. There’s a lesbian couple, a gay couple, and an interracial couple. And it’s so interesting and fun to read about this in the context of 1920’s NYC.
It took me a long time to read this book. It is a monster at 546 pages. I also had a killer sinus infection that limited my reading times. However, I’m so grateful that I took my sweet time reading this. It allowed me the ability to pick up on so many current day connections. And I got to savor my overall reading experience. At one point, stuff felt too good for the characters, and that’s when I knew a crazy ending would be approaching. And I postponed finishing it…That ending was just insane. Insane.
All in all, this was a wonderful installment in the series. The writing was beautiful. The characters were the best. I loved watching them work together! The setting was so interesting. The romance was sizzling. Pieces of the story were legit terrifying. The suspense was crazy. And the ending kind of ripped my heart out and I’m dying to read more. When will there be more???? I give it a 10/10.

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