CBR #119 – Twenty-Three Skidoon’t

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

I guess I just don’t like Libba Bray’s Diviners.  It sounds cool at first — a 1920’s based series about people who develop superpowers. Touching items and getting visions, shooting fire, dreamwalking, making themselves invisible, healing touch, predicting the future. There’s even kind of a steampunk cyborg.  But, man, it just grates on me for two huge reasons.

First, the fucking slang.  It’s just…ugh.  It’s so goddamn overdone.  It’s the opposite of the fucking berries.  It’s like reading James Joyce if everyone only spoke like Mr. Burns.  It’s so thick and unwieldy. It’s like Bray found a book of terms from Great Gatsby and just fucking sprayed down her entire book with it.  Stephen King doing his Uncle Rastus with every black character over the age of 40 isn’t this bad.  I can’t deal anymore.

Second, she feels like she’s checklisting.  Stereotypically.  Small town girls in the big city.  A jew. A handful of black characters.  An Asian.  A gay. His lover, who’s the overwrought version of Cajun, CHER.  Socialist anarchist’s daughters. And then she makes sure to give each one of them an afterschool special.  If done well, it flows effortlessly.  Otherwise, it feels like your ticking off boxes to make sure your book is socially relevant and sensitive.  So she’s making sure she touches on every issue at the time.  The characters blend together.  It just takes me out of the story.

And this second installment just feels like she’s giving EVERYONE powers.  There’s so many folks with powers now.  And meanwhile, we’ve got a number of possible dangers.  There’s too many goddamn storylines going on to follow properly.  We’re weaving in and out and it’s just…it’s like a goddamn CW show.  Teenagers feverishly making out while hiding their poorly special-effect secrets.  I don’t know.  I know folks who love this series and this author but it’s just not doing it for me anymore.

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