By Ransom Riggs
This book is a quirky, fun, adventure that transports a modern American teenager through space into an isolated Welsh island, and through time to World War II. In Florida, Jacob finds his grandfather as the old man is dying and receives abbreviated instructions from him. After some psychological turmoil, Jacob and his father visit the island where the grandfather lived. Here Jacob finds a group of children with special talents that are living the same day over and over in a kind of time loop. They are being persecuted by others, and need Jacob’s help in order to survive.
The story is illustrated with photographs that seem to send the story off into new directions. Most of these photographs appear to be old, and well, odd. These visual images culled from many collections add to the story. They also make me wonder at the process of the story’s creation. Which came first, the photo or the character?
While I enjoyed most of this story, including the time travel and female characters, I found the violence to be unimaginative. The whole thing of shooting a gun to complete some kind of rite of passage to be a man didn’t work for me here. There were also times when I had to review how old the narrator was. For much of the book he seems younger than his years and when he suddenly acts his age, it comes as a surprise. Near the end, Jacob has to decide whether to stay in the time loop with these peculiar children, or return to the life he’s always known. While Jacob ponders the pros and cons of his choices, his decision doesn’t seem fully justified by the novel. However there is more to come…
According to the author’s website, there will be a sequel, and the film rights to this book have been bought. So expect to hear much more about these Peculiar Children. http://www.ransomriggs.com/