Guest Review! | Danielle Reviews The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Posted September 3, 2016 by Kait in Fantasy, Mystery, Reviews, YA / 0 Comments

Guest Review! | Danielle Reviews The Library of Souls by Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3) by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Penegrine's Peculiar Children #3
Published by Quirk Books on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Time Travel
Pages: 458
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library, Northland Public Library

A boy with extraordinary powers. An army of deadly monsters. An epic battle for the future of peculiardom.
The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.
They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

Rating: 5 stars

Note: There will be spoilers. Please only read if you’ve already read the book or are one of those weirdos who likes spoilers before they read something.

The Library of Souls is the third book in Riggs’s Peculiar Children trilogy, and honestly the work came as a nice surprise. That’s not to say the first two books in the trilogy were a let-down. I personally found them to be phenomenal. But there’s always something about the book that’s meant to wrap up a whole world and the stories that live within it. To me they seem to have a problem fulfilling the expectations of the reader. So much tension builds up in a series, keeping the audience going, and then when the tension has to leave and the problems within each story line need resolved, the words seem to fall flat on the page instead of enveloping us in their world as they had done so many times before. Riggs, quite successfully, avoided this problem.

Just as I did his first two, I devoured this book in about four days. It is quite easy to slip right back into Riggs’s world because he establishes it so well in his first book, and sticks to it so consistently in his second. While it is easy to simply praise or berate an author because they did lots of good stuff making you really like the book, or they totally suck and the book was terrible, I think it’s very worthwhile to take a look into what helped make Library of Souls such a successful end to a trilogy.

Easy opportunities to make Library of Souls suck that Riggs avoided like a champ:

  1. One of the most interesting aspects about the Peculiar Children trilogy is the fact Riggs uses these creepy pictures in conjunction with the story. Having pictures inserted right into your book can make it quite easy for an author to simply rely on the picture to describe itself, leaving Riggs to only have to explain its significance.  In theory, the book probably could have worked if he’d done this. Critiques may have called him lazy, and the book may have felt slightly lacking, but at the same time if you don’t know what you’re missing can you really miss it? Thankfully, Riggs decided to avoid this whole mess, and just describe the picture to you before you even saw it, which made for a very satisfying reading experience. Riggs set up his whole Peculiar trilogy as if it had no pictures at all, describing every aspect of his world, and the significance of each piece of it, then he put in pictures where they would fit and it was almost magical. Riggs allowed his readers the opportunity to literally see the world he had so masterfully built for them, literally materialize in front of them. But unlike a move, nothing was cut short, no characters were left out, everything Riggs wanted to be there stayed put.
  2. Riggs didn’t have Jacob make the easy decision. This could happened for one of two reasons. 1. Riggs is an extremely smart author, and realized the easiest ending would not have been the best ending for his book or his trilogy as a whole. 2. Riggs knows his character so completely well, he understands that, what I would consider the easiest most straightforward decision, was something Jacob never would have considered. Towards the end of Library of Souls Jacob has a very important choice to make that will set the tone for the ending of the trilogy as a whole. He can either stay in Peculiardom and live in a loop with Emma for the rest of his life, or he can go back to London, find his parents, and face the consequences. To me, the most straight-forward choice would have been for Jacob to stay in Peculiardom with Emma and the other peculiars and live in a loop with them until the end of time. He didn’t seem to like Florida much, his parents didn’t seem like the greatest fit for him in book one, and it really didn’t seem like there’d be such a great life waiting for him if he returned to his family. But Riggs appears to have kept something in perspective I’d completely thrown out the window. Jacob is only 16. He is only 16 years old, and in a matter of weeks has seen more than he ever imagined he’d see in his whole life time. There are so many experiences he’ll never have if he stays with the peculiars. So many things he always assumed would be part of his life. Cell phones, a driver’s license, college. Throughout the whole book, it was becoming increasingly clear Jacob needed some sense of normalcy after so many life changing events, and Riggs understood this decision would not be so cut and dry for Jacob. Peculiardom would always be there. As long as Jacob was alive he could find a way back. But the present was fleeting. Jacob only had the opportunity to experience it once. So instead of making the easy finish that would cut the book off or potentially take some time looking into the future in an epilogue, or discussing the beginning of rebuilding Peculiardom from Devil’s Acre, Riggs made the smarter choice.
  3. Riggs avoided taking the easy way out a second time after deciding Jacob would go home to his family. Reading about Jacob leaving Emma, and his new Peculiar family was agonizing enough. Life would have been so simple and easy if Jacob would have allowed Ms. Pereguine a quick mind swipe of his parents’ memories so they would never know he had run away. The choice would allow Jacob to avoid so many problems when re-entering his world, and again the book probably could have ended quite neatly there. Jacob goes back with his parents, it’s presumed he gets the ‘normal’ life experiences he’s looking for, he sadly says goodbye to Emma, they somehow stay in contact the whole time, and eventually he goes back to Peculiardom (perhaps in an epilogue) and the two live together happily ever after in a loop. Thankfully, Riggs avoided this ending as well, which I am quite happy about because I’m pretty sure it would suck worse than the first bad ending Riggs avoided. Having Jacob choose not to employ the mind swipe on his parents at the last second is a wonderful demonstration of his character. Jacob is so desperate to have some normalcy return to his life, it would lift quite a burden from his shoulders to be able to tell his parents what happened. Or at the very least, take responsibility for being gone so long. Jacob doesn’t want to deal with the burden of lying to his parents on top of already having to pretend a huge portion of his life hadn’t even happened. Accepting the consequences of his actions allowed him to be released of the burden of pretending nothing ever happened along with having to pretend he is not a peculiar.
  4. Riggs avoided making an unrealistic ending. Having Jacob go back to his parents, and avoid a mind swipe where Riggs’s first two ways of avoiding an unrealistic ending. Riggs also did a fantastic job making Jacob’s return to his own time realistic. His parents thought he was crazy, they were beyond upset with him, even thought he was going to kill himself. Riggs even handles the suicide situation artfully, by revealing Jacob’s parent’s concern he was suicidal through a session with Jacob’s psychiatrist.

Overall, Riggs did a fantastic job avoiding the pitfalls that very easily could have made the Library of Souls sub-par. The trilogy as a whole was a very well established, thrilling read. I highly recommend it.

Rating Report
Overall: five-stars

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