Jacob Portman’s grandfather is crazy. He tells all these stories about when he was growing up in a home for orphaned children during World War II that can’t possibly be true. Stories about a boy with bees living inside of him, a girl who can heft boulders like they’re nothing, an invisible boy, and a girl who would float away if she didn’t wear weighted shoes. Jacob may have believed these tales when he was younger, but he’s older now and doesn’t believe in fairy tales. After his grandfather has passed away, Jacob and his father travel to the island of Abraham Portman’s childhood. As Jacob explores the island he starts to suspect that those stories may have been true after all and that those children may still be alive.
I did not want to read these books. The summary on Amazon kind of creeped me out and the pictures DEFINITELY creeped me out. But I read a review one day really praising them so I figured that it’s about time I sucked it up and read these books. And I’m glad that I did. These books are great! A little creepy at times (I would be scared out of my mind to encounter a Wight or Hollowgast in real life). But an interesting story with good characters. At the end of the book (at least the Kindle version) there’s an interview with the author. He explains how he writes these books. Sometimes the story comes first and he has to go find a picture to match, but sometimes he just has a very intriguing picture that he wants to weave into the story. I think that’s such interesting way to write a book! And he makes it work. None of the pictures felt out of place and the story always made sense. It never felt like he was stretching the story just to fit in a picture.
There were just a couple of things I didn’t like about these books. First, there were times when I felt like the kids weren’t acting in an authentic way (especially Jacob). The characters are young–at least at heart. Most of them have technically lived for over 100 years, but they still have the mindset of children and teenagers. Jacob is 16 and I just felt like the author wrote him older than he was supposed to be sometimes. The second thing is that the second book starts out feeling really hopeless and that feeling doesn’t quite go away for the whole book. I want to feel like these kids are going to be okay! It didn’t really make me want to keep reading when I felt like there was no way these children were going to make it out alive.
Overall both books were great and I felt that they were equally great (which isn’t always the case with sequels). Tim Burton is turning the first book into a movie with Asa Butterfield playing Jacob. I think this is a great match up. I loved Butterfield in Ender’s Game and I think he’ll do a great job with the role of Jacob too. The third book is supposed to be coming out this September and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it!
Overall Rating: 4
Violence: Moderate. Lots of fighting and some moderately detailed gore.
Sexual Content: None
Language: Mild (if that).