Tag Archives: New York Times Best Sellers

Stranded and Tortured… But Never Broken

dignity - hillenbrandUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louie Zamperini — it is the beautifully recounted and well-researched biography of a very brave man, who not only survived unimaginable ordeals, but learned to live beyond survival, and truly carved a meaningful life for himself afterwards.

Louis Zamperini grew up as a poor Italian boy who stole, misbehaved, and got into way too much trouble… until his older brother decided he needed to channel his little brother’s talent for running away into something a bit more worthwhile: he trained him to run track. Louie was a natural, and his desire to take on challenges made him push himself until he achieved something he never would’ve thought possible: to race in the Olympics.

Unfortunately, World War II came along to draft most (if not quite all) young men in the country, Louie included. Hillenbrand recounts the statistics of men who lost their lives, not only in combat, but also due to all kinds of accidents, technical failures, and training errors — they are a sobering number. Sadly, Louie and his crew were part of these men who became victims of their own plane: a faulty B-24 — The Green Hornet. The plane malfunctioned, and they crashed into the Pacific. Out of the eleven men on board, only 3 survived the crash — they spent 47 days adrift at sea, living off rain water, fish, and birds… mostly starving, dehydrating, fighting off sharks, and talking to each other to keep themselves from going insane. One of them didn’t quite make it (he lasted only 33 days) — what was to follow, would probably make the other two wish they hadn’t made it either.

After surviving their ordeal at sea, the men were captured by the Japanese. Louie and his friend, Phil, were mistreated, to say the least: they were separated, beaten, practically starved, denied proper medical attention, psychologically tormented, and worked half to death at prisoner-of-war camps. They endured this torture for over 2 years until the war ended in August of 1945.

“On Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive [the men] of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind. Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain. Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.

[…] Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.”

Surviving on the life rafts while out in the open ocean was quite a challenge — yet when Phil and Louie lacked water, they waited for rain; when they were hungry, they ate whatever they could get their hands on: fish, bird, or shark; when they were too weak to do anything else, they would talk to anchor their minds to their bodies so that they could live to see another day as lucidly as possible. But once they were prisoners of war, the Japanese soldiers sought to degrade them, deprive them of every basic human right imaginable, and to crush their spirit. Yet the POW’s found ways to keep their hope and will to live alight within these camps through small acts of defiance, by finding even the slightest bit of joy in whatever was around them: a funny duck, stealing sugar, putting on a silly play… even in the worst imaginable circumstances, a person can find a reason to keep going.

Louie wrote to his greatest tormentor, Watanabe in letter (after the war):

“It was not so much due to the pain and suffering as it was the tension of stress and humiliation that caused me to hate with a vengeance.

Under your discipline, my rights, not only as a prisoner of war but also as a human being, were stripped from me. It was a struggle to maintain enough dignity and hope to live until the war’s end.”

And yet, he held on… he did indeed live to war’s end.

Louis Zamperini’s story is impressive not only because he survived, but because his perseverance allowed him to continue living after his survival. Once the POW’s were rescued at the end of the war, they came home as heroes… but broken in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally… and Louie was no exception. Fortunately, after a long time, he found a way to heal… to forgive… and to give back to his community: he founded a camp for troubled youths, the Victory Boys Camp.

Although this life-defining tragedy lasted over 2 years of Louis’ life, he lived to the age 97. He passed away on July 2, 2014.

He lived quite a full, inspiring, and resilient life.

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The Quest Continues with The Throne of Fire

game of senet

In The Throne of Fire, the quest to bring balance to the world and Ma’at continues, as evil forces gain power and Apophis attempts to break free from his prison so he can destroy the entire world as we know it. No pressure, Kanes! Thus, Sadie and Carter start their recorded narration with no preamble: “Look, we don’t have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly, or we’re all going to die.” With only 5 days to find the lost Book of Ra, bring this senile god back from… wherever he is, and face Apophis as he rises… oh, while also either fighting against or joining forces with the House of Life (who is also currently trying to destroy them), Sadie, Carter, and their recruits are facing an impossible task. But impossible is what these guys (and gals) do best!

There are some new characters joining the Brooklyn House — including Jaz, the healer, and Walt, the charm-maker — who are holding their own under the Kane’s tutelage. But of course, the end of the world waits for no one, thus they must all try their best to fight evil and save the world. Sadie and Carter face some daunting challenges not only against their enemies, but with their own desires, and with each other. Still, Sadie manages to show she can hold her own, and make some odd-looking yet lovable friends (aka Bes). Meanwhile, Carter remains obsessed with finding Zia — but will she recognize him when she awakes? Their main struggle, however, is choosing what will be the best solution to the impending doom that awaits when Apophis rises: Do they go ahead and wake Ra, despite the fact he is old and weak and the gods don’t want him? Do they throw their support behind Horus? Should Carter take charge and rule? These are very difficult choices for teenagers who are barely dealing with the adult responsibilities already thrust upon them — albeit successfully.

In the end, they must simply take a leap of faith. Despite unnerving decisions, selfless sacrifices, and heartbreaking losses, the Kanes move forward. The future of the world is at stake, and so Sadies’ and Carter’s recordings go out into the world for anyone willing to listen and support the Brooklyn House at their most vulnerable time.

In typical Rick Riordan fashion, The Throne of Fire is a whirlwind adventure of constant suspense. We wonder about all kinds of serious questions: Are they making the right decision? Is this a trap? Why would anyone try to ride a double-headed snake? What’s with the zebras and the weasels? Who’d make a better boyfriend, Walt or Anubis?

Despite completing this part of the quest, much more remains to be answered — off to read The Serpent’s Shadow.

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The Blood of Olympus — the Prophecy of Seven is Fulfilled

prophecy of seven

“Never assume you’re safe, and never, ever tempt the Fates by announcing that you think you’re safe.” — Piper

The Blood of Olympus is one hell of a ride. At the end of The House of Hades, we left Percy and Annabeth saying ‘hello’ to the stars… but the journey to save civilization as we know it from Mother Earth before the Feast of Spes is most definitely not all stars and rainbows! While Reyna, Nico, and Coach Hedge take the Athena Parthenos west, in the hopes to make a peace offering and stop the massacre between the two demigod camps at Camp Half-Blood, the rest of the crew make their way east, to Greece, where they will most likely be massacred themselves.

The story is told through the perspectives of Reyna, Nico, Leo, Jason, and Piper — my first reaction, of course, was “Oh no!!” After all of the terrible omens, bad juju, the million oaths they all keep making (while I keep tally to see which one of them is going to break it), and overall sick feeling of “the Fates are awful sadists” — not to mention the many times I was tempted to stick my book in the freezer — I decided to trust Rick Riordan to simply tell the story… whether I ended up suffering through it or not. A hero’s journey is difficult, painful, and full of sacrifices. Reyna’s first sacrifice is her constant companion, Scipio… Nico’s shadow travel west is slowly killing him… even Coach Hedge must endure being away from his wife, Millie, at a most inopportune time. There are casualties among the Hunters of Artemis and the Amazons… (while I’m still mourning Bob and Damaesen!) And most importantly, we know that Gaea’s minions not only need the Blood of Olympus to wake her, but one of the Argo II crew members is destined to die. To say this story is nerve-wrecking is an understatement.

Still, the characters’ bonds grow so much stronger as they travel east battling anything and everything the Earth Mother throws their way. Nothing like a death sentence to make everyone get up close and personal… while eating gelato. Jason becomes much more likable — his perfection becomes as fuzzy as his vision — he becomes part of the crew, instead of the straight-laced leader who can never falter. Percy and Leo are hilarious throughout the entire ordeal, which is a much needed break in between the many near-death and monster-killing parts of every page. And we can’t forget the ladies on this team, who are not only incredibly strong and resilient, but also quite a force to be reckoned with.

In true Rick Riordan fashion, the story has loose threads and is open-ended. For those seeking closure, it seems that’s not his style… and I love it! Because even if there is no 6th Heroes of Olympus book, there is still room left to imagine and dream of this world where mythology is real (except for Atlantis — that’s a “fake myth,” just ask Percy).

For now, the quest is over… the spirit of Delphi is on hiatus… there are no prophecies to tackle… and “they soared into the unknown.”

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The House of Hades — a tale of anguish and unlikely hope

Percy and Annabeth

Love is no game! It is no flowery softness! It is hard work — a quest that never ends. It demands everything from you — especially the truth. Only then does it yield rewards.” — Eros / Cupid

The House of Hades follows up on the awful cliffhanger from The Mark of Athena. Everyone is on survival mode — Percy and Annabeth must survive Tartarus and reach the Doors of Death, as the rest of the team — Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, Leo, Nico, and Coach Hedge — travels on the Argo II to reach the House of Hades. Their trials and tribulations only grow worse with each turn of the page. Frank, despite his unassuming nature, must step up to take a leading role, while Jason continues to practice relying on others so that the weight on the quest is not entirely on his shoulders. Piper must learn to be more than just a persuasive voice. Hazel must learn to control The Mist and build up her confidence, as so much of this quest depends on her knowledge of the Underworld. Nico… well, he’s just a very complex individual. Meanwhile, Coach Hedge tries to conceal certain personal information, and Leo deals with the constant upkeep of their trireme, which is under unrelenting attacks and round-the-clock repairs.

The changing points of view allows the reader to keep up with the simultaneous events — sometimes jumping from one place to another at the most inopportune times, other times giving us just enough breathing room to relax for a millisecond. We follow Percy and Annabeth’s impossible and grueling journey through the most horrible of settings — in a surprising turn of events, there is more than just a horde of evil enemies down there… (a silver light as the end of this dark, dark tunnel?) As the larger group makes its way to Greece, they inevitably must separate — whether by choice or to divide and conquer their smaller errands along the way. Jason is able to get some insight into Nico’s antisocial behavior and inner turmoil. Piper and Hazel are able to bond as the only girls on the Argo II. Leo… experiences a change. As does Frank, who is becoming tougher and more commanding for the sake of his friends — he is such a caring and cuddly guy… until you mess with his crew.

I think Percy’s thoughts really sum it up quite well: “When he started looking back on the war with Kronos as the good old days — that was sad. […] Their lives just got more and more dangerous, as if the Three Fates were up there spinning their futures with barbed wire instead of thread just to see how much two demigods could tolerate.” The real question is, how much can I tolerate? I feel very much like the heroes of this quest: on edge, unreasonably hopeful, yet awaiting the moment when it all falls apart…

… I guess I need to keep reading.

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The Mark of Athena… and my shaky nerves.

Wisdom's daughter

“True success requires sacrifice.” Words spoken by the goddess Nemesis — surely, this is a bad sign!

The Mark of Athena demonstrates Rick Riordan’s increasingly suspenseful and exhilarating story-telling for the Heroes of Olympus… although I also keep wondering how much longer it’ll be until one of them bites the dust. There are just so many bad omens, foreshadowing of terrible things to come, and the ever-present “nothing ever goes well for a demigod” mentality.

Nonetheless, it is so wonderful to see Percy and Annabeth together at last. (I am finally able to officially join Team Percabeth!) From the moment the Argo II reaches Camp Jupiter, to the last excruciating moments of the story, my heart aches for them both. Yet, the development of each character’s personality, as well as the relationships between them, blossom throughout their quest. Cooperation between the seven chosen demigods is not only essential to their survival, but truly what helps them maintain the urgency of the quest — and prevents any of them from abandoning ship (which is often very, very tempting). As they try to escape the Roman legions of Camp Jupiter, aim to get rid of creepy eidolons, battle against Phorcys and Kato, try to avoid the various traps set for them, and search for clues to follow the Mark of Athena before setting sail for Rome (where things will only get exponentially worse!), the heroes need to rely on each other and learn that they are not only trustworthy, but valuable members of this quest.

Granted, it can’t be easy to carry so much power on one ship, no matter how grandiose the Argo II is. Percy and Jason constantly clash as leaders, since boys will be boys, and they want to out-macho each other. Frank fears Hazel’s interest in Leo, his short life-expentancy, and overall awkwardness. Hazel simply wants to feel useful due to this being her second shot of a meaningful life. Leo wants to desperately prove himself while keeping the trireme together, and trying to fit in with the group… he is quite uneasy about being the odd man out. Piper is cursed with that blade of bad news, Katoptris, so her nerves are always on edge. Annabeth is stretched so thin between ensuring the group holds together, and worrying about her own solo quest… the one no child of Athena has ever completed, and the one she must suffer alone. However, Coach Hedge is having a fantastic time… screaming out “Die!” every chance he gets. He is the much needed comic relief.

As I read my way through this group’s most difficult quest to date — riding along with Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, Leo, and Coach Hedge — I appreciated the references to prior adventures and previous books. These characters all have so much history — some more than others, but even the newest of crew members are invaluable at this point. Remember when Percy first awoke to hearing Annabeth say “you drool in your sleep”?… or how they took turns unwillingly holding up the sky?… or how Percy gave up the chance at immortality to be with Annabeth?

(… and where is Grover?!)

Of course, this all brings me back to the overwhelming amount of bad omens, and the many promises made that will no doubt be broken in the near future. I fear it can really go either way for our beloved heroes: perhaps a hero’s path is never easy, but after so much struggle and heartache, are they not deserving of some rewards at the end? …. or perhaps it’s all just horror after horror, and there’s a good reason why the Greeks invented tragedies.

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Percy’s Back!! … as The Son of Neptune

poseidon's trident

I am really liking this whole Roman aspect of the gods… but mostly, I love that Percy’s back! I missed him. Another thing I loved: his entire memory is wiped, but he remembers Annabeth’s name… and that is enough. Rick Riordan knows how to show some appreciation for Percy’s adoring fans.

Percy is at his most impressive in The Son of Neptune. The story begins as he battles two comical gorgons in Bargain Mart greeter vests, who carry some poisonous discount snacks — I must admit, I developed a soft spot for Stheno. He carries “old hippy-lady / Juno” across a highway — where he meets my new favorite demigods, Hazel Levesque (daughter of Hades) and Frank Zhang (… with quite the extraordinary heritage, even for a demigod) — across the Tiber River, and into Camp Jupiter. Here he is able to show off his vast power over water, crushing the gorgons, and saving Frank’s life. Finally, Juno reveals that horrible things are about to happen, and so they will need Percy. During the camp’s version of capture-the-flag, the 5th cohort (Percy’s new group and laughingstock of the camp) pulls off a tremendous win, causing Ares — I mean, Mars — to show himself and present the plucky trio with a prophecy and a quest. Granted, his prophesy is not as mysterious and rhyme-y as we are accustomed, but it gets the job done: “Go to Alaska. Find Thanatos. Come back by sundown on June twenty-fourth or die.” Did I mention Thanatos/Death has been captured… thus, the bad guys just won’t die?

This is one of the best adventures for Percy so far! There is humor, heart, action, all kinds of monsters, Roman myths, and suspense through the entire quest. Each character has such a rich backstory — it’s great to see some characters resurfacing, like Hylla as Queen of the Amazons. As a reader, I felt so invested in Hazel and Frank’s need to prove themselves, to help the camp, to defeat and conquer all challenges thrown their way because of their inner turmoil, troubled history, as well as sense of integrity and loyalty toward their friends — after all, these friends are the only family they have left. Even the most dislikable gods seem more reasonable and personable throughout this quest. I think we can all agree that Hera is truly the unfriendliest deity when it comes to demigods — as the goddess of marriage, I suppose we can understand why she loathes the mortal children of the gods… but it’s not like it’s their fault! Yet, as Juno, she is the only Olympian making a real effort to ensure the safety and longevity of her family: gods and demigods alike. I remember Ares quite vividly in The Lightning Thief… and I can understand why Percy hated him so much. Yet as Mars, he has much more depth — he reads The Art of War, he has a sense of duty, he foretells succinct prophecies, he doesn’t believe in senseless wars — he may not be my favorite Olympian, but I wouldn’t call him the worst either.

After seeing Percy demonstrate his daunting battle skills, reliving Hazel’s past in New Orleans and Alaska, and experiencing Frank’s doubts about being able to pull his own weight as a member of this monumental expedition, I couldn’t keep my hopes from going beyond the completion of the quest and wishing for the best possible outcome for all heroes involved. But prophecies never end well… I have so many questions, concerns, and suspicions: I don’t trust Octavian… I worry he’s so much more than a lame augur who enjoys disemboweling  teddy bears and beanie babies. I wonder about Reyna and Jason… and Piper. I fear whatever it is Juno hints at about Annabeth…

It’s enough to keep me reading for a good while longer.

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The Lost Hero …and brushing up on Roman Mythology

Festus and Prophecy

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan continues the story of teenage demigods who battle mythological forces to save the world from complete annihilation. I loved and devoured the Percy Jackson quintet:

1) The Lightning Thief

2) The Sea of Monsters

3) The Titan’s Curse

4) The Battle of the Labyrinth

5) The Last Olympian

.. and they were all wonderfully entertaining! I really enjoyed recalling my Greek mythology, and cheering for Percy as his journey transformed the troubled kid in Yancey Academy to the awesome hero of Camp Half Blood (and all of Western Civilization, really). Thus my surprise when The Lost Hero, which should continue the epic adventures of this magnificent band of demigods has… well, no Percy! Nonetheless, I understand that this is meant to start a whole new quest with different characters, and the story is told from a different angle. My Roman mythology background is not as sharp as my understanding of the Greeks, hence, I need to brush up on a couple of myths.

The story begins with confusion: Jason doesn’t know who he is, he’s not sure where he is, he doesn’t know who his friends are, and he’s calling everything by its Roman name… oh, and he’s supposed to be dead. But he has some great friends: Piper, daughter of Aphrodite, and Leo, son of Hephaestus — despite the fact that they don’t actually know him, and have trouble fitting into their own lives, they band together to save Hera… the unfriendliest of the gods. Of course, trouble ensues, secrets are discovered, the world is in danger all over again… but I still enjoyed watching the relationships develop, and having each character achieve a certain level of success and self-confidence. Who doesn’t root for the underdog?

I like that although the mythological universe of The Lost Hero is a familiar one, the story is somewhat different. I’m not sure how I feel about Jason… he’s great, he’s a born leader, he’s tough and strong, and despite some self-doubt, he’s just so perfect… but he’s no Percy Jackson.

So I’m looking forward to reading The Son of Neptune… I am very concerned for how things will fare for Percy without his memories to keep him out of trouble!

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The Infinite Sea… of Anger and Frustration

chess pieces

“He promised he would empty me. He would empty me and fill me with hate. But he broke that promise. He didn’t fill me with hate. He filled me with hope.”

… And if you’ve had a chance to read The 5th Wave, hope is death — but hope is all humanity has when it’s lost everything else that matters. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey picks up right where The 5th Wave leaves off. Everyone is injured, sleep-deprived, on edge, and hopeful, while shacked up in a crumbling hotel being overrun with rats. Once again we are able to experience the events as they unfold through the eyes of different characters, and even learn the backstory of Ringer and Poundcake. Cassie is hoping against all odds that Evan is alive and able to meet them at their rendezvous, Ben hopes Ringer is able to explore some caves that could be their winter shelter since they can’t stay in the rat-infested hotel for much longer, everyone else hopes Ben will survive his injuries and infected bullet wound. There’s plenty of hope and wishful thinking to go around. “No hope without faith, no faith without hope, no love without trust, no trust without love. Remove one and the entire human house of cards collapses.” So which one will be taken away? How to the Others plan to dismantle human existence and wipe it from the face of the planet? And most importantly, why are they being so methodical and cruel about it?

Anger. Frustration. Anxiety. Manipulation. I felt all these things as I kept on reading hoping to find some answers, hoping certain troublesome events would be resolved, hoping I would find out more about these sadistic aliens, and hoping things would be okay in the end, hoping there was indeed something to hope for. It’s the end of humanity as we know it, and I wanted things to be okay. I know…

Through Ringer’s experience we are able to learn more about the Others, their evil master plan, and their reasoning behind the attack on humanity — it’s all a rather confusing riddle, which only adds to the questions and frustration. Rick Yancey’s style is also deeply brooding and existential — but how else would we react when faced with the finality of our lives and extinction of our entire race? Each person is constantly faced with a choice of life or death — a choice that decides not only what happens next, but how their character and identity and collective consciousness of all of humanity will be defined. To kill? To die? To leave behind? To risk your life? To give up? To keep going? To break down and cry? To be strong and hold on? To trust? To suspect? To live? To love? To hope?

I read most of this book in one very long sitting because I needed answers. But what kept me reading was the feeling of experiencing it all first hand — all of my emotions matched those of Cassie and Ringer and Ben. Yancey chooses carefully how he presents information to the reader… and at times I felt I was being toyed with — Is he being cryptic on purpose? Is he messing with my head? Is he trying to throw me off? How could this be? Should I have seen this coming? … What I definitely saw coming was that I wouldn’t get all of my answers by the end of this book. I have a million more questions…

“You never know when the truth will come home. You can’t choose the time. The time chooses you.”

I cannot wait for the third installment of this trilogy.

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“You disappoint me,” she whispered.

the stars

I loved reading this book. I cannot praise Kate DiCamillo’s talent enough for weaving such details into a story and creating such beautiful characters. Edward Tulane starts out as the perfect little self-centered porcelain bunny rabbit. At the beginning his word is just so… exact. But Pellegrina sees that he disappoints — a little girl’s bunny rabbit should love that little girl just as much as she loves him. But Edward doesn’t love anyone… he cares only about himself. So he must go out into the world… his heart must be broken… he must suffer and constantly leave without saying goodbye… only then, does he learn to love.

Those stars which he finds so comforting at the beginning of the story, don’t care the slightest bit about him when he’s out alone in a field of crows! “I have been loved,” poor little Edward cries pathetically into the night… “So?” is the stars’ reply. It’s quite befitting that the book opens with a quote from “The Testing Tree,” by Stanley Kunitz: “The heart breaks and breaks / and lives by breaking. / It is necessary to go / through dark and deeper dark / and not to turn.” Edward’s heart learns to break again and again — he loses Abilene when he falls overboard, he loses Nellie when he is thrown into the garbage by her daughter, he loses Bull and Lucy when they are thrown off the train, he loses Sara Ruth when she dies, and he loses Bryce who loves him so much he cannot leave him a broken heap of porcelain…

Oh, Edward’s heart does indeed break and break — and as a reader, my heart broke with him. But it’s only through breaking that Edward learns to live and to love and to appreciate those around him. Do we truly only learn through loss? Is it only suffering that shapes the best of us? Is it the stumbles and mistakes and heartbreaks that makes us lovably imperfect?

In any case, I am happy this little bunny, scrapes and all, found his way home again.

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A Peculiar Read: Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ms PeregrineThis book had me at hello — which is somewhat strange, since I’ve been staring at this title for a while now (it has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over 52 weeks)… the cover looked somewhat creepy and I wasn’t sure it’d be my cup of tea. But then I read the first line. Jacob seemed like an interesting character I would enjoy getting to know — I wanted to go along on this journey of self-discovery with him, and most importantly, I wanted his grandfather to not be crazy. With tales of girls who could float through the air or make fire appear from their palms, invisible boys, and worst of all, monsters… who wouldn’t doubt the poor old man’s sanity. A man whose magical tales of childhood had sparked a boy’s imagination and thirstfor adventure, suddenly just seemed frail and delusional — still, Jacob’s declaration,”We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing them becomes too high,” feels like it goes deeper than just his grandfather’s stories… making him out to be a grandiose hero was a fairytale — the price (looking after him, defending him from his parents) became too high. Fortunately, Jacob was able to find his way to this strange loop of September 3rd… he met an extraordinary, if peculiar, group of people… he made a discovery after all. Thus, in the end, Jacob turns out to be more than a just teenage boy learning about his grandfather’s past, his realizations go beyond the peculiar children in Ms. Peregrine’s care, his observations are far greater than slightly creepy photographs in a box… “I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Yet […] I realized that leaving wouldn’t be like Ihad imagined, like casting off a weight. Their memory was something tangible and heavy, and I would carry it with me.” I must admit… I want to know what happens with this band of odd children and a bird. I think I’ll be reading Hollow City to see how Jake and his friends fare on their adventure.

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