22 December 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Somehow my updates got out of order. I actually finished this before ELEANOR & PARK, but oh well.

HOLLOW CITY, the sequel to MISS PEREGRIN'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, picks up right where MISS PEREGRIN'S left off, with Jacob trapped in 1943, rowing across the sea to mainland Wales. It kept up the air of wonder and mystery that its predecessor introduced, and introduced a grander scope: the idea that not just Jacob and his friends, but the world itself, was threatened.

Ransom Riggs posed a lot of interesting questions about determinism, morality, and time in HOLLOW CITY. Since it took place in the past, Jacob knew the general shape of world history that would proceed forward from 1943, but at the same time, he had no idea what was going to happen around him, specifically - and he had to face his powerlessness to change the future in any meaningful way for "normals." HOLLOW CITY proceeds from the popular conceit that history is more or less fixed, and that time will course-correct itself if one tries to alter things.

Jacob had a lot of growing up to do, as he became something of a leader to his bunch of friends. As the only one who could see hollows, he knew it was up to him to protect his friends. But he was also so much younger than them, though it didn't seem it, and he was out of place and out of time. Jacob was so eloquent in his conflict, it broke my heart.

Of course, the photographs returned. Riggs scrounged up even more peculiar, amusing, or downright creepy photos to use in the book. They were deep and provocative and in beautiful black and white, evoking classic black-and-white films like Orson Welles' THE THIRD MAN.

Often times, sequels fail to live up to the promise of their original. Not so with HOLLOW CITY: it more than lived up to MISS PEREGRIN, and exceeded it, broadening the world and ratcheting up the stakes and driving the reader ever deeper into the world of the peculiar.

It should be no surprise that, since it's part of a trilogy, HOLLOW CITY left off on a cliffhanger. I can't wait for the third book to come out.