I have to admit: I liked the first book better. I think it’s because the concept of mixing old photos with the story was new but got old by the second volume, and Hollow City felt a little too reliant on the first novel.
Hollow City picks up where Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children leaves off, with the children fleeing their safe zone, called a loop, in order to find another group like them who can help them get their guardian Miss Peregrine back to human form. They follow clues and fight enemies the whole way until about ¾ of the way through the book they find the last remaining ymbryne Miss Wren. Just as the children are regaining hope, they find out that Miss Peregrine’s evil brother Caul is behind their troubles in a spectacularly cliché way: a play on the evil twin gambit.
Even up to this point, most of the characters remain static, which is understandable as many have been frozen in time for over 50 years, but it does get old when many of them are pretty established types. Bronwyn is tough but motherly, Emma is the girl next door, Olive the little girl who wants to helpful, Horace the smarty pants etc. Jacob, the formerly modern boy turned Peculiar doesn’t grow much in character either but he does start learning more about his abilities as a detector of evil Hollows. Really, the only interesting character was Addison the Peculiar dog (he’s Peculiar because he can talk), and he only has a few scenes.
The final scene in which Jacob ends up back in the present with Addison, Emma, and a hollow sets up for the final volume well enough, but Jacob’s phone call with his father really irritated me. The father seemed stuck on the idea that Jacob was on drugs, and Jacob’s “I hope I’ll be able to come home some day. There’s something I have to do first.” struck me as equally pointless.
There are some good moments. When the group meets Addison, the story introduces new characters and some new information about the Peculiar world which was badly needed. There is also a scene in a 1940s London train station where the children manage to blend in with all the other kids who are being sent out of the city for safety. There’s also a really touching little scene when Olive makes friends with Jessica, a (probably) normal girl being sent to the country to avoid the air raids on London.
I really hope volume 3 isn’t just Jacob struggling to learn new powers so he can miraculously save the world, reach an understanding with Emma, and make his decision about which world to live in. That would be too predictable. And in a story that’s supposed to be about the not-standard, I’m just hoping book 3 doesn’t go the predictable route.