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"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #2) by Ransom Riggs


“I had come to the island to solve my grandfather’s mystery, and in doing so I had discovered my own.”

Hollow City picks up right where the first novel ended. Jacob and his peculiar friends are trying to take rowboats across the sea to the mainland, having just survived an attack by wights. Their time loop has collapsed and Jacob is stuck in 1940 until a ymbryne can send him back home. Miss Peregrine can’t do it; she’s sick, stuck in bird form, and if they can’t find another ymbryne soon, she will be lost to them forever. So Jacob must help the peculiars evade capture while trying to find the last free ymbryne.

This book has inspired me to invent a new adjective: creepadore -- when a thing is creepy and adorable at the same time. As in, “This book is so creepadore!” LOL. As with the first book, this story pits the expected innocence of YA child-heroes against the horror of unseen evil forces and combines all that with strange vintage photos to create a slightly disturbing picture book.

I loved how the characters dialogue reflects both innocence over age, and the time from which each character first originated. When the characters find their first loop, Emma declaration of “We’re somewhenelse!” made me laugh. She’s a kid even though she’s not a kid. I was surprised to find that Emma and Jacob were growing together, too, toward a romantic subplot. I didn’t really think the book needed a romantic subplot, it had a lot going on to begin with, but as the story continued, I was surprised to find I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t overly distracting, and in some ways it made their character evolution more believable; as they struggled with choices, they encouraged each other or called bullshit when necessary. It didn’t feel cheap, forced, or meaningless.

I enjoyed seeing the scope of what these peculiars are capable of; when the first book introduced them, they were living their lives in sanctuary, having fun with their abilities. In this book, fleeing for their lives and fighting back when cornered, the reader gets to see how dangerous these kids’ abilities can be when used as weapons. In that way it was interesting to see who wants to rush forward to battle; you’d think Bronwyn’s formidable strength would make her an obvious candidate, but she just wants to protect people, while Hugh with his stomach full of bees turns out to be a deadly enemy. And it’s hard to forget Millard, invisible nerd, dropping exploding chicken eggs where they’re least expected.

Speaking of exploding chicken eggs, I don’t know what I’d do with an Armageddon chicken, but I want one. Although I suppose if I had one I’d wind up on some sort of homeland security watch list. The world of peculiars continues to expand as the children search out other loops and find one that’s a menagerie of peculiar animals. Most of the loops have been raided already, leading Miss Peregrine’s peculiars to ask, and find the answer for, the obvious question: How are the hollowghasts even getting in? It isn’t supposed to be possible.

And what about the photos, some of which are creepier than others. You’ve get rather peaceful scenes like a silhouette on a beach, strange landscapes and architectures early on, which were tame compared to some of the images that appeared later. Like the photo I assumed (and hoped) was a post-mortem portrait of two grown men “sleeping” in a small bed, with two skeletons wedged in between them (one of which was kind of gooey looking). Ransom Riggs managed to incorporate photos both peaceful and grotesque into the story to create a unique atmosphere.

The closer I got to the end, I begin to realize: there’s too much going on. There’s no way this can end well, if it’s going to end at all… And sure enough, a cliffhanger ending rears its infuriating head. The only thing left to say now: Where the Hell is Book 3?

Rating: 5/5

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