Author: Ransom RiggsPublisher: Quirk Publishing
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Read it in: 3 days
Source: The library
I absolutely HAD to read this book. As a sucker for anything creepy, bizarre, or otherwise strange and phantasmagoric, I had this one on my TBR list from the moment I saw that disturbingly odd little girl levitating on the cover. Add to the fact that the story centers around an abandoned orphanage on a mysterious island?? Yup, I was all about it.
Jacob has just lost his grandfather. At 16 years old, all Jacob has left are memories of the fantastical, sometimes horrifying, stories that his grandfather used to tell him as a child, and the last words his grandfather uttered-- clues to the real story Jacob never knew. Now Jacob wonders if the nightmarish monsters his grandfather spoke of were not just metaphors for the Nazi soldiers that killed his family, but real monsters that still exist somewhere... and whether they are out to get him like they got his grandfather.
I'm actually not really sure what to say about this one. It's not that I didn't like it, but I had pretty much the same reaction to it as everyone else: it just was not at all what I had been expecting. I think the main problem is that people going into this book are like me-- they saw that extremely creepy cover and flipped through to see some equally creepy old photos and thought that this book was going to be scare-your-pants-off terrific, but then when you get into the actual story it just... wasn't. Definitely no scary-pants-action going on here.
And honestly, it's not that the story was bad-- there was a lot of suspense, some romance, some folklore, some mild creepiness with the villains. But I went into this book expecting something totally different. The kids were not creepy. And I was looking for creepy ghost children. I was looking for a story that gave me chills and shivers and made me jump every time I heard a noise while reading. What I got instead was a good story, but it fell a little flat next to what I had worked myself up to experience.
The concept was really great, and I loved how the pictures were incorporated into the story. That was such an incredibly unique and awesome idea, and it definitely kept me interested throughout the book. The story told through Jacob's voice was very real, incredible funny, and I loved all the uncensored snark and raw emotion that came through from his perspective. Jacob's point of view really made this story come alive for me.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed with this book, despite some great characters and an interesting premise. I really needed this story to amp-up the creepiness factor because I had been expecting a bone-chilling ghost story and got something very different instead. Not bad, just not totally living up to my expectations.
Seriously one of the most intriguing covers I have ever seen. If I was walking past this book, I would stop dead in my tracks to pick it up and see what it was about, even if I was running late to be somewhere. It would be like an involuntary reflex, that's how awesome this cover is. That picture of the levitating girl with the creepy face is so haunting, and the pics on the back of the book are even more nightmarish-- like, super scary! I wish that the story had the same creep-out factor as some of the photos did.