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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

YA Review: Hollow City

I honestly, truly tried to keep from writing this immediately after finishing the book. I really did. But I need to talk about it, guys. I need to talk about my feelings here! I need to at least get started, or I'm going to explode! Fair warning: this review will contain spoilers for the first book. It is, after all, a sequel.

(Wednesday Edit: I had to add three links to this and some minor formatting, and convinced myself I'd scheduled it. Whoops. This was supposed to be up Monday. I apologize for that!)

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Published: January 1st, 2014 by Quirk Books
Genre: Somewhere between YA Fantasy and Horror
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 396, plus the acknowledments and what not
Part of a series? Yes, it is the second book of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series.
Got via: Quirk books sent it to me! Thanks, guys!
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): September 3, 1940. Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them—but she’s trapped in the body of a bird. 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. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine.

But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

Review: You guys. I can't right now. I didn't really mean to read this in one sitting. But I was sitting there and reading, and a few hours later, I was staring an distressingly decreasing amount of pages left. Now I'm sitting here staring at the Goodreads page of the third book like Veruca Salt. "But I want it NOW." Guys, I really do. I think I actually liked this one even better than the first book, and if you read the review I posted last week, you know how much I enjoyed that one. This one worked just that little bit better for me, and I enjoyed it that much more.

Seriously, guys, enter the contest because you want this.

Plot Talk: Hollow City picks up right after Miss Peregrine (I'm not typing that whole title out) ends. Like same day, same hour, maybe like five minutes later. I don't have strong feelings about that, really. I'm fine with it, but I'm also kind of okay when books don't do it. Either way, I'm good. But I know my mom really likes when sequels pick up right after the last book ends, so if you're like my mom, you'll like that. Jacob and the peculiar children are now on the run, and they don't even know who they can trust or who they should be wary of, especially with Miss Peregrine, their teacher, protector, and more, still trapped as a bird. They have to go "loop" jumping to journey to London and attempt to find help - with only hope and fairy tales to keep them going.

Compared to Miss Peregrine, this book's plot is quite a bit more active. There's more action versus the creeping discovery of the first book. I think that actually makes this one less freaking scary because frankly, a lot of the tension of the first book nearly scared my pants off. Neither of them are bad, don't get me wrong, there's just somewhat of a change. This one also becomes partly a survival/on the run plot, which I do enjoy. Always makes you appreciative of clean underwear! There's also a large found family element that I think many of us are drawn to. That's in the first book, too, but I love how it's portrayed in this one.

Oh, and I think the romance is a little more prominant in the blurb than in the book. The romance isn't such a large part of the book that I would call it a paranormal romance, or a romance at all. Definitely a romance subplot, or element, but, you know, they have other priorities besides the smooching!

Characters: One thing I mentioned in my Miss Peregrine review was that I found Jacob's voice somewhat inauthentic for a teenaged boy, and that his characterization lacked slightly. In Hollow City, both have improved. His voice reads much more teenager to me, and he gets to be a deeper character. He grows, and I enjoy his growth, the peculiar things about him that are revealed, and his portrayal in this book all in all. I especially liked the mysteries he discovers about himself, but I also enjoyed the struggle he has with himself in deciding who he wants to be, and the line between growing up and trying to be his grandfather, which he knows isn't healthy.

I also really liked knowing more about the peculiar children, as almost all of them got much more time given to them, and we learned more about them. The book has a lot of female characters, and it's nice seeing a large group of women and girls, and how different they can all be. Bronwyn, for example, is one of my absolute favourite characters.

PG-13 stuff: Again, I think a lot of the stuff with the monsters is quite scary. Or at least it is to me! I find the wights and hollows terrifying, honestly, which is why I do catagorize this between fantasy and horror. There's also a fair amount of violence, and (trigger warning) a female character is groped by a male antagonist, and threatened vaguely along the lines of sexual violence. And probably some language, too, but I'm having trouble remembering that (I tend to not think too much about cursing in books, honestly), and I didn't make notes.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: The only thing I wanted to mention was that there are a group of Romani people in the book, and the book solely uses the g-word. While the 1940s character would likely use that term, I would have liked it if Jacob knew that that word is along the lines of a racial slur, and not used it so liberally in his narration. Additionally, I think the depiction of them perhaps relies on some stereotypes (there's a "fortune teller" in the Romani group, for example), which may have been true at the time out of necessity of persecution, but I kind of have to question it. I'd like to hear from someone who is better versed in this stuff, but it raised red flags with me. Especially when the pictures that are supposed to represent the Romani people are almost entirely of people who are white, or white passing. I understand the limitations of the photography available, but it's disappointing to essentially whitewash characters of colour like that - and otherwise, there are not very many of those in this book.

I keep coming off like a buzzkill in these sections! But unfortunately, I do feel like I need to point these things out as a critical consumer, and an honest reviewer, so there it is.

Cover comments: Again, I love it. I love that it's creepy and strange, and just looks a little wrong when you look at it. I also like that it goes well with the first book, with the same font and detailing. I realize that's a little strange, but you know how book people are. We like things to match. Oh, and I'll mention here that in this book, the photos have a sort of dark brown background versus a dark grey/black background, and I like that.

Also, when you take the dust jacket off, the book underneath looks and feels very old-fashioned, with that rough textured cover that a lot of older books have. It also has a neat little detail on the cover that I'll let you discover yourself when you get this.

Conclusion: This book, and this series, so far, is so different and awesome. Unique. I love the blend of photography and storytelling, and the way they work together to tell the story. I really enjoyed the cast of character, especially the peculiar children, and how Jacob's voice has settled into itself. Ultimately, I think the diversity is lacking, which is the reason this one loses points with me. Other than that, I enjoy them very much, and I have high hopes for the third book! Four out of five roses, and fingers crossed that the third book ups the diversity for that extra half rose.

Other notes:

- Random note about how I hate when characters in books lose their stuff. Clothes or anything else. Or, I mean, I don't hate it, but it makes me all sad for them.

Remember to enter the contest! Trust me, you guys want this one.

Peace and cookies,

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