I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just a couple of weeks ago, through happenstance. The fact that Hollow City came out right after that and that I received a review copy is basically a blogger miracle. Riggs’ debut impressed me with its lush writing, eerie tone, and air of magical realism. Even so, sequels make me nervous these days. Second book syndrome plagues many a talented author, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hollow City. I need never have worried, however, as Hollow City basically blows Miss Peregrine’s out of the water with awesomeness.
Where Miss Peregrine’s was slow and contemplative, gorgeous and thought-provoking, for most of the novel, Hollow City starts out with a bang and continues at a pretty fast clip all the way to the incredibly intense conclusion. The stakes are raised so much higher than in the prior novel, and danger follows behind the peculiar children at all times. Though I love a well-done slow pace, as Miss Peregrine’s is, the increased danger and faster pace made everything feel so much more real and immediate. Hollow City is a much more intense read.
The children embark on a series of adventures together, all with the aim of saving Miss Peregrine, who has gotten stuck in bird form, and finding a place to hide. They hope to find a surviving ymbryne, so that they may shelter within her time loop. I especially love this plot because it reminds me of Animorphs: View Spoiler ». Whether this is an intentional reference, I can’t say, but it gives me a lot of nerdjoy.
What I like best about Hollow City is the teamwork the group exhibits. They don’t all trust each other implicitly quite; they’re a lot of tension between Enoch and Jacob especially, but they are working towards a common goal. Where I didn’t have a great sense of most of the peculiars as individuals in Miss Peregrine’s, they all get so much more characterization in Hollow City and all get a chance to shine. Each ability has use, and no one character is the savior of them all.
I especially want to comment on the girls in the group, and laud the fact that they are so incredibly powerful. Bronwyn’s the most physically strong in the group, while also being the kindest and most loving. Emma winds up being the de facto leader of the group with Miss Peregrine incapacitated. So often even fiction devoted to a badass heroine will fail to show any other strong women, but there are so many of them in Riggs’ series. I really love the way that he gives so many characters a chance to show their different kinds of strength, rather than making Jacob the big hero of the series.
The formatting of Hollow City is as lovely as that of its predecessor. Though the pictures aren’t as logical this time, given that in Miss Peregrine’s they were all photos shown to Jacob, they are still used very effectually. The pictures help sell the magical realism feel of the novel, and make the incredible fantastic elements feel very real. Plus, they’re creepy and haunting.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The one factor I’m still not in love with is the same thing that I didn’t like in the first book: the romance. I simply cannot ship Jacob with his grandfather’s ex-girlfriend. I can’t and I won’t. That’s really all I have to say about that bit of ickiness.
The Final Verdict:
All of the powerful elements that made Miss Peregrine’s such a success remain. The tone and writing style are much of a piece with the previous novel, which I can say with more authority than usual having read the first book so recently. If you loved Miss Peregrine’s, be prepared to love Hollow City just as much or perhaps more.