Today is another two for one!
I honestly thought long and hard about breaking these two books up, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
In my mind they are inseparable. I think that’s because I read them one after the other. Man, I flew through these books!
Not only were they not difficult, they are low YA, but they were action packed. The characters promise to be peculiar and the plot promises to be hairy!
This is a SPOILER-FREE book review! Even though I am reviewing both I won’t go into too much detail. I’ll give you the plot synopsis for both books at the bottom of this review so you can choose to read both or just one.
Going into Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the only thing I knew for sure was the obvious inclusion of strange photography. I guessed that this book would revolve around a orphanage of sorts. I even teetered on believing it might be about a traveling freak show. I wasn’t completely wrong on the latter part.
From the start, Ransom Riggs throws at the reader some great characters and great fun.
Jacob is your average teenage boy and when I say average here, I don’t mean average boy with flawless skin. Jacob has an undesirable job, a strange family, an even stranger best friend, quirky personality traits, and a crazy grandfather. Jacob is immediately relatable and endearing. I was immediately rooting for him.
My favorite part about Jacob is how real he is. His every reaction felt normal and natural. His inner, teen, dialog had me laughing and eye rolling. This story is a great example of a grown author tapping into his inner young adult to write in a teen’s perspective. I felt that this story had great character development. As a ‘coming of age’ sort of novel this book really does well. It’s an unconventional spin, but it still manages to be touching.
There are aspects of both books that were unexpectedly gruesome and scary. There is one particular aspect of our ‘evil’ characters that truly terrify the pants off of me. If you read the books then I’m sure you agree that the way those things walk sounds like something straight from a horror flick. (Once again, if you read the book I think you know what I’m talking about.)
And yet, I don’t think this book was meant to be horror. The focus certainly wasn’t on the terror of the novel. I would be quick to call this book more alternative historical fiction than horror. In that aspect I felt that the book was confused. Horror or no?
I loved the action in both books. This was another place where I felt the story telling was very real. The characters go through real hardship and respond realistically. Not everyone is able to survive, thrive, or wants to fight evil! Some of us truly are just sheep in the midst of chaos. I like that Jacob goes through that quandry more than once. If you felt there wasn’t enough Action in the Miss Peregrine’s then hold out for Hollow City! It delivers!
Overall, Hollow City improved on everything that Miss Peregrine’s lacked or I wanted more of.
I wanted to know more about the peculiar children- you find out more of their back stories and their relationships.
I wanted to see more action- Action is multiplied by five.
I wanted to know more about this peculiar setting/history- loads is explained in Hollow City.
I wanted Jacob to become more awesome- Awesome factor is doubled.
Uh…yeah….I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say this: I really wish the romance had not happened. That was just- er, um…wrong.
Photography: Gutsy or Gimmicky?
I struggled with the photographs throughout both books.
At first, I thought the photographs were an original, neat, and an intriguing idea. As I progressed in the story I wished there were less of them. In the beginning, the pictures make sense. They directly correspond to the story. As the story progresses and more of these photographs are explained or introduced they become more of a distraction. I’m fully capable of imagining what these people or things look like. In fact, on several occasions, I liked the way my mind put together the descriptions more than the images.
I give Riggs huge kudos for doing something I haven’t seen in a modern novel. It had to be incredibly difficult to sell the ideas of these photographs strewn thoughout his story. And they were fun. But in the second novel these pictures are even less necessary. They serve absolutely zero purpose in the second book. In the second book there aren’t even any pictures taken, it’s like snapshots of what Jacob sees which makes the idea of the photos completely wrong.
I still can’t decide if the story would be the same or better without the pictures, but they were interesting. I’ll give him that.
Overall, these books are sweet, heartbreaking, quirky, and mesmerizing. I highly recommend as a summer read. This book is certain to give you a good poolside adventure. I will certainly be sharing these books with my freshman. This book was just too much fun not to share! I can’t wait for the next in the trilogy! (I think it’s just going to be a trilogy…)
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.(Goodreads)
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. (Goodreads)
Click the pictures for the books’ Goodreads pages!
Thanks for reading! (sorry for skipping out last week. I was feeling the summer heat! :p )