Posted February 14, 2014
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
By Ransom Riggs
By EMILIA NUNN
In the sequel to his bestselling novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” Ransom Riggs continues the strange and twisting world of peculiars and their dangerous enemies.
“Hollow City” continues with the wondrous use of bizarre antique photographs, which help to outline the story and its characters. The novel picks up with the narrator, Jacob Portman, and his band of peculiar friends leaving the island they called home after it has been destroyed. They soon find themselves stuck in 1940s Britain at the height of the World War II German Blitzkrieg, and no plan to keep themselves safe from the enemies who hope to destroy them.
This sequel introduces the reader to a variety of new characters, both peculiar and ordinary, as well as gives a more concrete outline to the world of the peculiars. Although Riggs’ first novel in the series created a world easy enough to believe, it still left so many questions unanswered. By moving the characters from the limited safety of the island, the author is able to open up a whole new world for the children to explore.
By working with such a secretive topic as “peculiar children,” who hide their powers, Riggs’ set up a difficult task to introduce them to a narrative world of normal characters. However, he does this seamlessly, as in the following excerpt: “Apologies if I failed to properly introduce myself,” said the Gypsy leader. “My name is Bekhir Bekhmanatov. And you are our honored guests.” He bowed deeply. “Why didn’t you tell us you were syndrigasti?”
“We gaped at him. He had used the ancient name for peculiars, the one Miss Peregrine had taught us,” he wrote. In this excerpt, Jacob and his peculiar friends begin to realize they are not alone in the world.
My one quandary with the novel is the believability of the narrator’s thought process. It is difficult for me as a reader to believe that Jacob Portman, who has been sheltered for most of his life, would throw caution (and his parents) to the wind in the hopes of staying close to a peculiar girl. It is not his lack of adventure that causes me to question him, but rather his lack of passion for the quest he chooses. If the girl is what holds him in the novel, then there needs to be more pull for me.
However, I do understand the constraints put on young adult authors to keep their work “smut” free, and this does cause a challenge when trying to display a deep desire between two young adults. In this genre, I believe Riggs excels, as he is able to mix the fascinating traits of the peculiar children, with the terrifying adult choices they are forced to make. This combination gives the narrator’s voice an “on the edge” of adulthood feel, as if one major moment will eliminate his childhood forever. Riggs’ writing clarifies how important childhood is, as well as how easily it is lost.
I’m looking forward to the next novel in this series and the fascinating pictures it will portray. That will always be one of my favorite parts of Rigg’s storytelling: his ability to piece together a complex and expressive plot all through the use of a few antique photographs. It leaves me wondering, what if all books were pieced together this way? What kind of literature would we find then? These pictures illustrate intriguing animals, strange landscapes and confusing contraptions, allowing the reader’s mind to wander even further into a world of the peculiar.
Overall, I believe this novel was a successful sequel to Rigg’s first novel in the series, and that these peculiar children will find their names alongside those of Katniss, and Harry, and Jace. In a world where young adult literature is becoming darker and stronger, Ransom Riggs has earned a spot at the top.
- “Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children”
- Author: Ransom Riggs
- Publisher: Quirk Books
- Published: Jan. 14, 2014
- Length: 402 pages
- Print list price: $17.99
- Kindle price: $8.97