Monday, December 14, 2015

More Strange Children

Hola, after a day full of Christmas shopping and wrapping gifts, I thought I would take a break and do a quick non-holiday related rambling.  I had finished Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (the second book in the Peculiar Children series) a while ago and totally forgot to ramble about it so here we go.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
When we left our peculiar children they were fleeing the collapse of their time loop due to the interference of the scary hollowgasts.  They are traveling with their caretaker Miss Peregrine who is trapped in bird form. Emma (the girl who can produce fire) and our main guy Jacob (the boy can feel/see the hollowgast) continue to act as leaders to our ragtag band of misfits.  After a bad storm they lose almost all their belongings but manage to retain their copy of the book The Tales of the Peculiar which turns out to be able to guide them to various areas.  They use it to travel to the Menagerie, a hidden loop populated by peculiar animals (and my favorite part of the book).  Here they learn that Miss Wren, this loops caretaker has gone to London to try and combat the hollowgast invasion.  The kids leave Fiona (the plant growing girl) and Claire (the girl with the mouth in the back of her head) at the menagerie so that Claire can recover from an illness.  Meanwhile Emma, Jacob and the rest of the kids, Bronwyn (super strong), Millard (invisible boy), Olive (lighter then air) Horace (has prophetic visions), Enoch (can animate the dead) and Hugh (controls bees that live in his stomach) continue on to London.  They end up with a Gypsy band that risks themselves to help the children once they realize they are peculiars, as they have a close relationship to them historically.  Using their help they hop on a train and find the loop to 1940s London...right in the middle of World War II.  During their travels they run into a pair of sisters, one of which is a peculiar herself (it is her we see on the cover of the book) who pretty much gives the kids a hard time for their attitude towards supposed "non-peculiars" and declines their invitation to join them.  The kids hook up with a reluctant Melina a peculiar who can work with the peculiar pigeons that lead them to the next step in their journey.  They also join a pair of brothers who are very peculiar and very much do not like to be split up.  The intrepid group end up in a loop that features a circus, which as one can imagine has all kinds of peculiars in it.  They are brought to an iced in building, which turns out to be a sort of un-official-official headquarters of the peculiars and has been under siege by the hollowgasts.  They finally find Miss Wren who agree's to help them turn Miss Peregrine back to a human.  While this process is going on, Emma convinces Jacob that he needs to go home and be with his family.  Miss Peregrine is finally returned to human form, but much to the shock and horror of the whole group, it is not Miss Peregrine that emerges, but Caul, her brother who tricked the kids into traveling with him so he could finally catch the last of the guardians.  There is mass chaos and the majority of the group is captured.  The book ends with Jacob back in his present calling his father and finding out he is able to control the hollowgast.
I realized as I read this book that it had been a couple of years between reading the first book and this one and had to go back and get the gist of the first book so the second one would make sense.  Where the first book felt original and fresh, a lot of this book felt like the author was trying to fit it in with the pictures he had (weird and awesome pictures feature prominently into this book as they did in the last one.).  In the first book, the photo's were actually part of the story, with Jacob finding them in his grandfathers collection, and more at the destroyed orphanage, they felt more integrated to the story.  In this book the photo's were used for strictly illustration purposes.  I personally felt that much of the book was their as a reason to show the photo's instead of the photo's furthering the story.  I also felt the story was a bit disjointed and hard to follow, I kept wanting a guide to how the peculiar world worked...but that may have also been 'cause I don't remember the first book all that well.  On the plus side I LOVED the idea that a book of "tales" actually had hidden information and the fact that the bird was Caul and not Miss Peregrine was actually surprising were both pretty cool.  I continue to love the personality of some of the peculiar children and the way Hugh used his bee's to save the group made me smile.  The book was okay, and I suspect as I finish the series I will appreciate it more as a whole then as any single book (at least I hope so).  If nothing else, the photo's make for very cool and pretty visuals.  I give this book 6 out of 10 iron shoes and recommend it to anybody who read the first one and wants to know what happens next.  Hopefully it will be a shorter interval between the next books and the rambling will come soon.  Side note, if this post is incoherent it's 'cause Hubbin thought it would be a good idea to drink a couple glasses of wine and three shots of rum before writing  Happy Reading Everybody!

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