Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hollow City & Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

I decided to review the last two books of the Miss Peregrine series together, because otherwise I will most likely let slip too many spoilers – an unforgiveable act anytime, but especially with this series. Unfortunately, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book yet, I can’t even share the “official” summaries. That’s how many twists and turns this story takes.

Hollow City picks up at the exact point Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children leaves us. Jacob and his new friends embark on a manhunt, and the fate of all mankind hangs on their success. They face great danger, find both friends and foes in unexpected places, and each child must find the strength to do things they never imagined themselves doing. Library of Souls also picks up at the exact point Hollow City ends, and I can say all the same things about that book.

But there’s so much more to this series than that. Yes, it’s your great adventure, with a save-the-world plotline, danger, mystery, intrigue, everything you expect. It’s also very dark at times. Friends are lost, families separated, lines crossed. Not everything can be tied up in neat and tidy packages, and you can’t always protect each other from hurt. Jacob and his friends aren’t only children, they’re soldiers fighting for all they’ve known and love.

Something that really struck me was how you can actually see their journey taking a physical toll on them. So often in adventure stories the characters traverse entire countries like it’s next to nothing. But for Jacob and his friends every day is hard, exhausting, fraught with danger. They run on adrenaline but eventually it runs out and they’re left cold, tired, and with no warm and easy rest for the night. When they fight it’s not easy, where you’re not in the least worried about them winning at no great cost. There’s always a cost.

But through all the darkness they go through, there’s warmth, because they go through it together. Jacob’s friends are his ”found” family. They support each other, hold on to each other, and care for each other along the way – the way a true family does – even though none of them are actually related by blood.

The quality of the writing and storytelling stayed good through the entire series, and if anything improved. The settings always seemed to live and breathe, but weren’t described in such detail it made me want to skim them. The characters all stayed true to what you expected from them – no sudden changes in direction or personality like I’ve seen in other stories. A few characters in particular really gripped me, and made me care deeply about them. And the nearly seamless flow of each book into the next made it an easy series to stick with.

In each book, the plot expanded more than I ever expected, leading the series to an incredible climax. At times, I didn’t think there was any way all the plotlines could connect cleanly and leave me feeling satisfied and they absolutely did. Loose ends were tied up, and as far as I can tell, no plotline was forgotten. The ending was almost perfect – not exactly what I had dreamed of, but close enough to leave me very happy and contented. Where’s the fun in getting what you expect, anyway? But it did not leave me contented enough that I don’t want more books. Mr. Riggs, any way we can get a few more peculiar tales?

Four stars to the first two books, and five to the last.

Have you read The Peculiar Children series yet? If not, WHY not?

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