A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As Jacob and his friends travel through time and space, they often find themselves in the London Underground in different eras, leading to interesting comparisons and historical insight. They also experience life during World War II, from children forced to evacuate the cities and leave their families to the terror of the Blitz.
Strong messages about staying loyal to your loved ones -- and figuring out how to resolve issues when your obligations to different people conflict. Also, messages about showing courage and resolve in terrifying situations, learning that everyone's "peculiar" talents are important, and how to work together.
Positive Role Models
Conflicted about his responsibilities to his parents in the present day and his mission to save his grandfather's friends in the past, Jacob struggles with his conscience and with monsters as he continues to progress from spoiled, aimless rich kid to "hollow"-slaying hero. Love interest Emma takes the lead in keeping the other kids safe, and super-powerful Bronwyn uses her strength to protect them. All the kids are resolute, determined, and skilled at using their talents to help save their teacher and avert doom. Many adult characters are evil and scary, but others, especially the elusive Miss Wren, are wise and benevolent. Random strangers often turn out to be essential allies.
Violence & Scariness
A monster stabs a child to death. Jacob and his companions are in constant danger of being violently killed (as Jacob's grandfather was in Book 1), and they encounter the gory remains of many victims, including the horses of people who helped the kids. World War II is ongoing through most of the story, and the kids are in London when bombs fall on the neighborhood. Encounters with monsters involve weapons, magical and otherwise -- for example, exploding chicken eggs. Many of the vintage photos author Riggs uses to illustrate the story are freakish and grotesque.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jacob and Emma often sleep together, usually in a group setting, but it's only sleeping. They kiss frequently. One newly met character hopes in vain for Emma to share his bed, and one of the peculiars has an implied flirtation with a girl on the train.
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In contrast to the first volume, in which 21st-century Jacob has quite the potty mouth, the language here is 1940s polite, with very occasional "hell" and "dammit." One "screw it."
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Products & Purchases
Jacob's family business is a fictitious drugstore chain called Smart Aid.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hollow City is part horror tale, part cosmic conflict, part teen romance, and part coming-of-age saga. Teens who love creepy stories tinged with lofty adventure, first love, time travel, and historical adventure will happily devour this. The second installment in Ransom Riggs' series that began with the best-selling Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (now also a graphic novel, with a movie in the works, set for Sept. 2016 release) continues the adventures of 21st-century rich kid Jacob Portman in 1940, where he's joined forces with the "peculiar" kids who were once his late grandfather's friends. As in the first book, Hollow City uses real, often grotesque or creepy antique photos to tell its story. Book 1's frequent strong language is absent here, and sexual content is limited to flirtation and intense kissing that's described more emotionally than physically. Lurking hollows and wights have the kids in constant danger, and human and animal characters, including children and innocents, are viciously killed. Weaponry ranges from guns and knives to exploding chicken eggs.
Is It Any Good?
Imaginative and gripping, Hollow City keeps the pages turning and raises a steady stream of ethical dilemmas. When is a selfless act the right thing to do, and when is it destructive? What happens when you can't do right by one person you love without harming another? As the second installment in a series, it manages the challenges of moving the story along while leaving plenty of conflict and unresolved issues for future books. The strange antique photos, along with the typical creepiness of monster tales, make for a level of weirdness that may be too intense for some readers and will have huge appeal for others.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.