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Ransom Riggs – Hollow City

September 5, 2014

68. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (2014)
Miss Peregrine’s, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
1a. Miss Peregrine’s: The Graphic Novel

Length: 400 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 09 August 2014
Finished: 13 August 2014

Where did it come from? Amazon.
Why do I have it? I preordered it (and then let it sit on my shelf for seven months, because I am silly like that).
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 13 January 2014.

Being chased by soul-
eating monsters, you say? Through
the Blitz, you say? Great.

Summary: After the attempted kidnapping of the ymbryne Miss Peregrine by the wights, Jacob Portman and the peculiar children of Miss Peregrine’s loop leave Cairnholm island. They’re seeking other loops, with other ymbrynes, hoping that the one in London can help Miss Peregrine, who is stuck in bird form. But it’s not going to be an easy trek. Neither Jacob nor the peculiar children, who have been living in their loop for 70 years, are used to traveling through England in the midst of World War II. They are being tailed by the hollows, who feed on the souls of peculiars. And if they don’t reach help soon, Miss Peregrine may lose her humanity and be stuck in bird form forever.

Review: I was so excited for this book. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was something so new, so unexpected, so original, that it won me over completely, and I was hoping that Riggs would be able to recapture the magic in this sequel. But unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen, and a lot of it has to do with how he utilized the photographs in the first vs. second book.

In the first book, the vintage found photographs were part of the story in a very literal way. It read almost like a scrapbook, with Jacob seeing a photograph in the story, and then that photograph being reproduced for the reader. The fact that these photographs were real objects made it seem like the rest of the story could be real as well, and it wove everything together into a much more cohesive and special whole. In the second book, however, the images are mostly no longer physical photographs from the story, but are instead used almost exclusively as illustration. For example, Jacob & Co. meet the girl on the cover, in the circumstances pictured, but nobody stops to take a picture of her, and yet that image appears in the text as if they had. The disconnect from the way the photos were handled in the first book constantly made me stop and wonder about the context of the photos in the second book – why does this image exist? No one had a camera! – and made the overall effect much less cohesive… which is a shame, because that was a large part of what made the first book so effective.

(It also occasionally felt like Riggs had used up his best pictures on the first book, and then had to scramble a little bit to find more and weave them into a story for the second book – a lot of the pictures don’t have the same visual impact, and don’t seem as seamlessly connected – even leaving aside the question of context – as the pictures from the first book.)

But despite all that, this was still a fun read, and I still quite enjoyed it. The story continues to be imaginative and fast-paced, and I enjoyed learning more about the wider world of the peculiars and their history, and meeting new characters with new abilities. I also enjoyed seeing the familiar characters develop and grow. Emma’s and Jacob’s relationship has never been a huge draw for me – I’m a little weirded out by the fact that not only is she technically in her eighties, but also that she was in a relationship with his grandfather – but watching them and the other characters interact with each other and with their trying circumstances was handled with a deft emotional hand. But really, this story is mostly just fun – kids with strange superpowers being chased by monsters through the London Blitz. What’s not to like? 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely not a stand-alone – it picks up minutes after the first one ends, with almost zero recap of the first book. But for fans of the first book, while this one doesn’t quite recapture the magic of the first one, it’s still a fun read with plenty of twists and turns.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Cheap Reader, Entomology of a Bookworm, Sarah Reads Too Much and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: We rowed out through the harbor, past bobbing boats weeping rust from their seams, past juries of silent seabirds roosting atop the barnacled remains of sunken docks, past fishermen who lowered their nets to stare frozenly as we slipped by, uncertain whether we were real or imagined; a procession of waterborne ghosts, or ghosts soon to be.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2014 9:05 am

    7 months isn’t too bad – I’ve had the first one longer than that.

    • September 5, 2014 11:19 am

      Kathy – Oh, I’ve had some books on my shelves for a decade unread. But I feel silly about being in such a rush to get a book that I preorder it before it even comes out, and then not actually reading it once I have it.

  2. September 6, 2014 12:28 pm

    I agree with the use of the pictures – didn’t seem quite as compelling. But that ending? Argh! Now I can’t wait to read the third!

  3. September 6, 2014 4:21 pm

    Man, I do the same thing with preordered books. I preordered Malinda Lo’s Inheritance a year ago and I STILL haven’t read it. :(

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