Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.
I was so excited for this book to come out that I put my name on the hold list for it at the library before anyone else did. It was on my desk at work the day it came out! And I forgot I even put a hold on it; I think I’ll end up buying it too. I kind of want to own this whole fantastic series.
When I read book 1, I had no idea there would be a sequel. And while it ended with a serious cliffhanger, it did have a sort of cool ending that I would have accepted as a standalone conclusion. When I heard news of this book (which came out three years after the first), I wasn’t sure how I felt. How could it possibly compare to the mystery and introduction to such a fantastic world? But as I tend to do, I read the sequel because how can I resist a return to some of these unique and wonderful characters?
And I’m so glad I’m too weak to stop reading a series after the first book. What a colossal mistake it would have been to not have continued with this story! The story gets stranger. Now, instead of one time loop, there are many. There’s peculiar animals, more peculiar children, peculiar adults, and more eerie photographs in-between. Then of course there’s missions at sea, kidnappings, soul-eating monsters only Jacob can see, romance, secret passages under crypts, birds that are people, frozen buildings, murdered soldiers, bombings, and first class train rides!
The whole peculiar world is at stake, and the kids are racing with the clock to save a certain headmistress that only has days before turning into a bird permanently. Behind all of this mayhem, is a World War II backdrop and pieces of history. There’s also the guilt Jacob feels for not going back to his father, who now must be looking for him -possibly assuming he’s dead. There’s also the building relationship between Jacob and Emma, which is as weird as it is romantic. And just when things seem to finally be going in the right direction, Riggs throws out another unexpected twist that I had no idea was coming!
The cliffhanger at the end of this one is so much crazier than at the end of the first. And the plot of this book is also a lot crazier. It’s a lot darker too. There’s this overwhelming refugee feeling to the whole thing. While a lot of the kids are much older than they appear to be, they are still children crossing boundaries, attacked over and over again, no longer able to return to their home. There’s this scene where the peculiar children get off a train in London, and blend in with hundreds of other children, boarding trains, leaving London. One of the peculiars bonds with a normal child about to leave because they both had their homes bombed. And it kind of hit me all at once that even though this story is fantastical (with time travel and monsters), it’s also very real.
I think that’s what I look most about this book. Even though the situations and the characters are beyond believable, there is this sense of realness to all of it too. Riggs still writes at a very adult level, and I can see a lot of teens and kids putting these books down before getting to the juicy stuff, because it’s not the easiest language to understand and get into. However, it’s this same language that paints such a real, yet fantastical world and I can’t imagine this story without it.

I can’t come up with anything that I didn’t like about this sequel. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more than the first book. There was definitely more action in this one and more adventure. There was less horror and less time spent in Jacob’s time period. I can’t wait to read book 3. Hopefully it won’t take another 3 years to come out because I don’t how I could wait that long. This gets a 10/10.

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