Do you know how long it's been since I read a book that actually had fresh, unread-- unheardof fantasy concepts in it? It's been so long. It's been close to ten years since I read a book that widened my imagination's horizons with new ideas that I've never before heard. Reading this book felt like opening my eyes for the first time again, and seeing the world as brand new, with parts and possibilities in it that I had never before known existed or were there!
I feel like I've fallen into this mundane belief that everything that could be known in the fantasy world was already known-- that nothing new was left to surprise me.
This book changed that and blazed like a lightning bolt across the earth before my feet. I felt like a kid again reading this book. How rare is that?! I felt like I had things to learn once again about the world, that not everything was discovered, that there was still some mystery left in this planet, and still more things I had left to discover!
Suffice it to say, the personal impression aside, that Ransom Riggs did a wonderful job with this piece of writing and creativity. The unique flair, to take a series of old photographs and weave a story through, around, and from them is a great touch and no doubt what had most people really intrigued with this book when it first started coming out into the public eye. But that Ransom Riggs has the talent to take it further and not depend on these photographs as a crutch is itself a monumental achievement and what really sells this story once you get into it.
The characters really drew me in, even when I had clear and distinct problems with the main character, Jacob, at the beginning. Even though Jacob himself has the excuse of trauma and teenage hormones to write off his actions, his upbringing makes itself just as expertly apparent in his character in those early moments. As the story continues, these things become absorbed into him as a person, and while the story focuses more on the exploration and unique tale it has to tell as opposed to Jacob's issues once it makes that turning point about a third or so of the way along in the book, it doesn't detract from the fact that he's a young teenage boy who reacts believably to the situations that he's half-thrust and half-walked himself into.
The side characters prove to be just as human and intriguing as well. Most of them, apart from their natural talents, have flawed sides that distinguish them as real people who you can get down to earth with and have perfectly normal conversations with. These little flecks of personality show through in minor moments that come across as everyday in their lives, and it helps to add personality without needing to go through full narratives about each one and making the book an extensive, dragging biography. We get just enough from all these amazing side characters to be intrigued and captivated, but it plays off as normally as anyone getting introduced to a room of people you've never met before. You pick up on the tidbits and slowly begin to distinguish the character of each person and learn more about them through the small facts, their actions, and their conversations around or with you.
Ransom Riggs created an enjoyable environment with a cast of characters that we learn a great deal about just from living amongst them. Nothing drags, and the uniqueness of the tale is made the more enjoyable by the creativity of fantastic elements that Riggs wove seamlessly into this story. Each of them was a pleasure and a surprise to me, so I won't bring them up here. I'd much rather you read the book for yourselves and enjoy each one as they come.
Overall, this is a book that is an absolute must-buy to me. It's written very well, the characters are fleshed out believably and are likewise each enjoyably unique. The plot is focused and is supposed to carry on into another book to be released in about a year, which I will pick up the moment I can. It's a series that you're definitely going to want to keep your eyes on and become a part of if this level of quality continues, because it's going to be a keeper. Definitely, definitely give this book your time and attention. It's a gem amongst stones.