Hollow City: Ransom Riggs

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I would have liked to write this review after having read the first book in the series, to provide some continuity, so to speak, but well, I never really did get around to it (yes, my reading process is messy, like me). Anyway, it isn’t particularly difficult to follow the events that unfold in this book; the author does give a sort of summary in the first few pages.

Jacob Portman is a peculiar, a boy with the ability to see killer ghost-like creatures called hollowgasts. To fulfill his grandfather’s dying wish, he found himself on an island housing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where he finds other children with special powers like him, living in a time loop maintained by their guardian, Miss Peregrine, which keeps them young forever. After some events in the first book, the home on the island is destroyed, Miss Peregrine has been turned into a bird, and they are in war-torn London. They need to find other guardians to help restore them to their time loop before they are killed by bombs or hollowgasts or worse.

What is most interesting about this book are the photographs. The author is a collector of curious vernacular photographs, and used some of them to create the story. The pictures are really interesting (the cover photo gives you an idea)- some trick photography, some plain weird, all black and white vintage, and the way Riggs weaves his narrative around them is pretty cool. What I also liked were the abilities of the kids; yes you have your standard superhero abilities like telekinesis and super strength, but there are also eccentric abilities like control of bees and being lighter than air. Even Jaccob’s ability is pretty non-standard for a superhero.

There have been several phases in young adult fantasy- first it was vampires, then witches, then dystopian. It is refreshing to find books that break the mould; with its interesting concept, it was no wonder that I finished the book in one long read. A movie based on the first book is coming out, and it’s directed by Tim Burton, so I’m hoping the delightful eccentricity of the book is suitably brought to life.

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