This book was my pick for our most recent book club. I had read a few reviews and seen the marvelously creepy cover as well as the hyped up marketing campaign and it sounded like it would be right up my street plus it’s young adult fiction, which has always done quite well in my book club.
The story follows Jacob, a teenage boy who has always been very close to his grandfather – a man who has told him tales of monsters and magnificent children with amazing powers all his life. When Jacob’s grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances Jacob starts to wonder if some of the stories might be true. Using weird photographs and letters his grandfather left behind, Jacob follows a series of clues that lead him to the remote Welsh island children’s home where his grandfather grew up but nothing is as it seems and soon he is pulled into a world more fantastical than he could ever have imagined – one which is under threat and needs his help.
It sounds kind of awesome, right? Except for the most part it’s not. The pictures that accompany the story, which are mostly real vintage photos are very odd and intriguing and weird and cool. It’s just that the writing kind of isn’t. I found myself unable to connect with Jacob at all. He never seemed like a real person and I couldn’t make myself care about any of his trials and tribulations or about really any of the peculiar children I encountered throughout the story. I also found the mythology to be a bit all over the shop and ultimately confusing and over-complicated especially when it came to the hollows. It wasn’t unreadable and I did like the way Riggs described his remote and mysterious setting but overall it just fell a bit flat for me and I don’t feel the need to read any further novels in the series.
Maybe the upcoming films starring Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson will work better, especially at the hands of Tim Burton, who does this kind of thing well… you know when he’s not being completely crap.
I’ve wondered about this one, too. I love the cover. I think I’ll just skip the book and hope for the best in the film. However, I’m REALLY getting tired of Samuel L. Jackson….
He is getting to a point where he is just Samuel L. Jackson playing Samuel L. Jackson.
The same bulging kick-ass stare. The same pimp suit. The demanding voice. I am tired.
Same. Forget the book. Just look at the pictures and make up your own stories.
I definitely would have enjoyed that more!
Now that is a cast!
I am hoping that they can elevate the material a bit and turn it into something special!
Nooooo! I keep seeing this book and hearing about it, and it looked like it would be right up my alley, and now you say this? Oh dear…
Maybe the movie is better because, if anything, at least there will be Eva Green to look at. And maybe Burton goes back to his roots some more, stops his super silly streak. It’s getting embarrassing now.
Some members of my book club loved it and I have seen some great reviews so don’t let me put you off. It just didn’t work for me.
I feel very much the same about this one. I think Tim Burton has a good chance of putting a nice touch to the movie though. As much as I didn’t think about reading the second book, there was a really awesome deal the other day and I picked it up. Haha! I just dislike anything that deliberately sets up for the next book…and this one so obviously did, not sure it really worked with it. Great review! 🙂