Book Review: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

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 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…
I just…
I don’t even know where to start with this book. It is amazing. I consider myself to be one of Libba Bray’s top fans. I picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty back in 2003 when it was on the new arrivals shelf, and I’ve religiously followed her work since then. I have read The Gemma Doyle trilogy more times than I can count.
But this… this book is her best yet. It’s amazing – one of the best I’ve ever read. It has everything; gasp-inducing horror, tremendous character growth, an overall sense of dread that left me unable to put it down, and plot points that broke my heart. The cast of characters have grown so much over the first three books in Libba’s four-book series, and I feel as though they have become truly real and fleshed out by this entry.
My favorite thing about this book is that we continue to see more and more diversity throughout the cast. The cast is racially and ethnically diverse, but also includes many characters who identify as various sexualities. I would love to also see some gender diversity present, but I can not complain whatsoever because Libba is doing what I wish more YA authors were… characters who identify as a sexual minority are main characters, and their sexual orientation is not their defining characteristic.
That bears repeating. There are lesbian, gay, and questioning characters whose defining personality traits are NOT their sexualities. 
As I mentioned in my Lair of Dreams review, Libba does not shy away from discussing the harsh realities of being different in the 1920s. Unfortunately, some of these harsh realities described in Before the Devil Breaks You are still reflected in American culture today. Libba doesn’t pull punches.
This book is so intricate, and there are so many things going on, that I can’t say much without spoiling it. Trust me, this is a journey that you should take for yourself – totally spoiler free.
Also, if you have the chance, the Audible version of the book is incredible. January LaVoy is probably the best reader that I have ever listened to. I plan to look up more of her audiobooks just to hear her again!
Here’s to my first 5-Bard review! Before the Devil Breaks You certainly deserves it!

Top Ten Tuesday





Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make You Not Pick Up A Book


If you like any of these authors/topics/genres, please take my opinion with a grain of salt.  I am not bashing said authors/topics/genres, just pointing out that these are things that will make me put the book back on the shelf. (There are exceptions.)

1. Cheesy Mysteries
I love a good mystery story: one that thrills me and tricks me around every turn.  I do not,, however, like really super cheesy mysteries with weird nicknames and random titles that go along with the number of books in a series.  For example, any of the Stephanie Plum novels.  (This is also one of the exceptions, if I hadn’t been forced to read the first one, I would have never read it or picked up a copy) 

2. Nicholas Sparks
I’ve had a few friends who have met him…and they haven’t said anything particularly flattering about him as a person.  Plus, I really don’t like to go into a book knowing that it is going to make me cry or depressed.  I’m in it for the ride, but every Sparks book I’ve ever read follows the same trope: Sad. Sad. Sad.

3. Terminal Cancer
I’ve had two family members pass away from terminal cancer and my mother is a survivor of cancer.  So any book that revolves around the main character having a slim possibility to live through Cancer really brings up a lot of bad emotions for me, so I tend to avoid them.  However, I will read the occasional exception: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. 

4. Snooki
I feel like this is somewhat self explanatory.  

5. Current Politics/Politicians
I am a huge history buff.  I tend to not really care for current topics or politics unless they are involved in my decision for voting.  I just really would rather stick to my history books. 

6. Horror
I’m a huge scaredy cat. There. I said it.  There are definitely some exceptions, especially Anna Dressed in Blood, I ended up adoring that book.  But most Horror like The Shining?  Yeah, I’ll avoid it like the plague.  Unless, that is, someone plans to stay up with me all night?

7. Shakespeare Conspiracy
I do not like reading about the possibilities of Shakespeare really being a patsy for Christopher Marlowe and for the random Dukes or Lords that some claim he really was.  I am a strict Shakespearian.  I firmly believe that William Shakespeare wrote his plays. I’ve been given many different books to read that are supposed to argue about Shakespeare’s true identity, but they all end up sitting on my shelf gathering dust.

8. Alex Flinn
After I disliked Beastly so much, I avoid any of her books.  I don’t particularly want to immerse myself in the world that I already don’t like. This, again, is personal preference, if you are a fan of hers, then go for it! I support all authors…I just don’t care to read any more of Flinn’s novels myself.

9. Most Middle Grade
I tend to really love early readers and children’s novels, but for some reason some Middle Grade books are written a little too young for me.  I think part of it is that I actually skipped reading Middle Grade when I was actually at the age to read middle grade. I went right from what I call early readers to what was Young Adult at the time. However, I’ve been more open to it now and am excited to say that I am enjoying the genre much more now. 

10. Any fashion books
Aren’t they out of date by the time they make it to printing? 


What are some books/topics/authors that you avoid? 

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