Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, starts immediately after the ending of the previous book. So because I can’t think of a better way to start this review, why don’t we begin in a similar way?
The book opens with Jacob, Emma, and the other peculiar children lost at sea, trying to find land and, ultimately, another time loop with an uncaptured ymbryne to heal Miss Peregrine. I don’t think I explained the term “ymbryne” in my last post, mostly because it was barely used in the story. But since it’s a pretty common term in Hollow City I’ll explain for those of you that haven’t read the book. An ymbryne is more or less the caretaker of a particular time loop and controls the repeating timelines. Without one, the time loop falls apart, and that’s precisely what happened to Miss Peregrine’s when she was captured by the wights. They’re also in charge of taking care of peculiars and helping them develop and control their powers, educate them, raise them — basically, act as their mother.
Anyway, not to sell this book short, but Hollow City is almost entirely focused on the peculiars traveling through 1940s London trying to find the supposedly one uncaptured ymbryne, Miss Wren. They make a lot of stops, and there are noteworthy events that happen within the book, but… I don’t know. I can’t remember too many details about what happened. They find a home for peculiar animals, which has hands down one of my favorite characters in the series so far if only for his appearance alone. They meet up with some gypsies that know of and sympathize with peculiars. They get captured by wights and make a pretty cool escape thanks to Hugh, one of the main peculiars that controls bees that live inside him. They find a raided loop and rescue a pair of peculiar twins that can see through the dark using sonar and a telekinetic girl. They find Miss Wren, she heals Miss Peregrine, then a ton of really awesome and surprising things happen that I don’t really feel like spoiling. But that’s it.
I’m not sure if it’s because Hollow City falls victim to the dreaded “middle book” of a trilogy syndrome or if it’s because the peculiars never stay in one place too long, but I’m having trouble remembering a lot of scenes that stood out compared to the previous book. Which is strange, because in many ways I enjoyed Hollow City more. It improved on some of the flaws I had with the previous book, which I really appreciated. For one thing, the characters felt more developed. They don’t evolve into anything too complex, but I appreciate what was done. For example, Bronwyn, the girl with superhuman strength, is shown having more affection and care towards the younger kids and the injured Miss Peregrine, almost treating them like a mother would. There’s a small hint towards a romance between Hugh and Fiona, the girl who can manipulate plants. And Enoch, the boy who can animate inanimate objects, becomes one of the most negative characters I’ve ever seen, possibly because of his anger towards Jacob for hooking up with Emma. I was sincerely surprised and almost disappointed he didn’t become a bad guy out of pure jealousy; his attitude through the entire book screams future betrayal.
Unfortunately, Jacob doesn’t get much more interesting from the last book. In fact, narration aside, Jacob feels like just another peculiar tagging along rather than the main character. Which I guess may be a good thing considering he’s still pretty boring. His shining moments come from saving the group from hollows, which only he can see and is slowly learning to become better at detecting. But other than that, he’s a typical main character saying typical main hero things.
Emma remained my favorite character and is still one of the more complex, realistic people in the book. Funny, remember last week when I complained about other people complaining about her relationship with Jacob and how it’s wrong because of the “age difference?” Well now she has a problem with it too! Even though she was ecstatic with Jacob’s decision to stay with them, for some reason, towards the end of the book, she suddenly decides that it’s wrong for him to stay with the peculiars and for the two of them to be in a relationship. This fight more or less gets put on hold, but I’m curious to see where it goes. Does Emma really have some sort of moral dilemma with their situation, or is this just one of those scenes meant to have Jacob rethink and ultimately reinforce his decisions that he already made?
The old photographs are back, and… well, if some of them felt forced in during the first book, then Hollow City is even guiltier of this. In the first book at least some of the pictures made sense in context. You know, like Jacob’s grandfather showing him photographs in the story? Here, though, that’s pretty much lost. The photos exist primarily to compliment what’s happening in the story, and unfortunately, more scenes feel like they have to go out of their way to introduce a photo. Like the previous entry, I don’t feel like they’re unwelcome, but considering that the photos seem to be the one unique thing from an outsider’s perspective of the series, they don’t seem necessary and mislead readers into thinking it’s scarier than it is. It’s a fantasy series, not a horror one. I think something like Harry Potter‘s quirky illustrations at the beginning of each chapter would have been more appropriate.
Except for this photo. This one’s amazing. I frickin’ love this dog.
I still really enjoyed my read of Hollow City, but I’d be lying if I said some parts weren’t a little dull. The last chapter, however, was so exciting for me. A bunch of stuff comes out of nowhere and really raises the stakes for everyone involved. Normally I don’t really care about spoiling stuff in these reviews, but the end of this book was such a welcome surprise for me I want you to be surprised too, if you’re reading this to get a feel of whether or not you want to get into the series. That being said, I think in many ways this book is better written than the first, but something about it wasn’t quite as memorable. So if you’ve read the first and aren’t sure if you want to continue, I unfortunately couldn’t give you a good answer one way or the other.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the review. I’m really looking forward to the next installment and giving my thoughts on it. Hope everyone’s having a great week! 🙂
Info for my edition of Hollow City:
- Published 2014 by Quirk Books
- Hardcover, 399 pages
- ISBN 978-1-59474-612-3