Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: LIBRARY OF SOULS by Ransom Riggs

LIBRARY OF SOULS is the final chapter in the trilogy of books that began with MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. The second book of the series (HOLLOW CITY) ended on a major cliffhanger as Jacob and Emma find themselves in modern day London separated from the rest of their friends who have all been kidnapped. They find themselves staring face-to-face with a hollow, those terrifying creatures that hunt, capture, and devour peculiars, and Jacob discovers he is able to control the hollow and make it do what he wants. The conclusion is a bit of a shocker and makes up for the weak points found in the rest of the book.

LIBRARY OF SOULS begins right where HOLLOW CITY ended. Jacob and Emma and Addison begin their hunt anew to find their missing friends and try to bring about the end of the wights. Their journey takes them from modern-day London to a place of peculiardom called Devil’s Acre, a place where the unwanted, rejected, and addicted peculiars come to reside. It’s also where the wights fortress is located. Along the way they meet new foes and allies alike.

I really enjoyed MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. I thought it was a fascinating idea to write a novel and was intrigued by how well the story and pictures all fit together. Although I was excited by HOLLOW CITY, I was somewhat disappointed by it. The story lacked the depth and character development of the first book. I usually really enjoy the final part of a trilogy and was really looking forward to reading LIBRARY OF SOULS. However, I found the book to be the most disappointing in the series. The story wraps up the mysteries and loose ends of the first two books. It also introduces some unforgettable characters who I wish we would have had more time with (Sharon and Bentham) and has some grand climatic battles.  Yet, so much of the book feels forced. At times it felt like I was reading a story that was written just to beat a deadline. That’s the thing about turning one book into three: sometimes a story doesn’t need to be that long. I really think the series would have been better if it had been told in two books instead of three. Also, the gimmick that brought about the first book (photographs that inspired the story) has lost its luster in LIBRARY OF SOULS; the photographs aren’t needed now and the book even reads that way; the photographs aren’t central to the story anymore and are more of an afterthought. Personally, in some ways this series reminds me of the trilogy of Matrix movies (HOLLOW CITY ends very much in the same way that THE MATRIX: RELOADED does): the first story is so original and groundbreaking, the second story isn’t as strong but has some moments, and the final story fails to live up to the epic conclusion it has been building. That’s not to say LIBRARY OF SOULS is a bad book because it’s not. However, it’s just not the epic conclusion it should have been.

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