Book Review: "Hollow City"

Ryan Smythe ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Odd photographs usually don’t produce New York Times bestsellers, but that is exactly what Ransom Riggs used to create Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Using various vintage photographs of children that appear to have supernatural powers, like pyromancy, incredible strength, and levitation, characters are created and woven into a larger narrative.
The novel tells the story of Jacob Portman, a 16-year-old boy living the most ordinary of lives in present-day Florida. Tragedy strikes, and while on a trip to Wales, he stumbles upon the existence of supernatural people called “peculiars.” Pulled into their world, Portman quickly learns about beasts that are hunting down the peculiars one by one, and discovers that he has the ability to help.
The sequel, Hollow City, published January 14th by Quirk Books, finds Portman and his band of peculiar children racing against the clock to stop these beasts, with failure meaning the death of thousands, if not more.
It starts out very slow. As heart-pounding as the initial chapters are meant to be, what with the beast literally nipping at their heels, much of the magic from the first book is lost. Part of Peculiar Children’s beauty was the massive cast of peculiars that were introduced, and how each of their powers shaped their character. Hollow City limits itself by only retaining a small number of the original cast, and whittles that number down even further early on. Instead, much of the focus is put on a budding romance between Portman and Emma Bloom, a pyromancer. While not uninteresting, it sucks focus away from the rest of the group, to the point where they’d be forgotten when they aren’t in the scene.
It takes far too long for a larger cast to be introduced, but once present, the old thrill from the first book returns. Where Peculiar Children focused mostly on the discovery that peculiars exist, Hollow City takes it five steps further by explaining much more about how each one works, as well as showcasing just how devastatingly powerful some of them can be. That explanation coupled with a change of scenery to the nightmare that was World War II London brings about a true sense of unease, as well as the constant fear of being ripped in half by the ever-present beasts.
This book would have benefited from losing about 80 pages worth of introduction to allow for the better half of the story to begin closer to the cover. That being said, the back half is truly fantastic, and sets the stage for its sequel. Riggs looks to have a fantastic series coming out of his head, and will hopefully get it all down onto paper before the wait becomes unbearable.
Overall Grade: B (Easy to recommend, hard to put down.)

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