If I could, I would give this book 2 1/2 stars because it was more than OK but I didn't actually like it. I found the central character, Jacob, comple...moreIf I could, I would give this book 2 1/2 stars because it was more than OK but I didn't actually like it. I found the central character, Jacob, completely unlikeable. He reminds me of the female protagonist in "Revolution" but she had a dead brother, a sick mother, and an absentee father to blame for her emotional turmoil. Jacob, on the other hand, has a two-parent cushy life that he can't seem to get comfortable with. Fair enough, it happens, but I was never sure how Riggs wanted me to feel about Jacob -- was I supposed to think his self-induced ennui was cool? Was I supposed to pity him? I didn't quite get it.
Jacob is the narrator and his writing skill is impressive for a teen(though often nearly sunk by the overuse of adjectives and metaphors) but this is explained away by our being told that he takes accelerated high school classes. His hopelessly hateful attitude and burdened writing were sometimes difficult for me to slog through.
But slog I did and that's because the first half of the book reeled me so powerfully that I couldn't stop in until I discovered what had happened to Jacob's grandfather (BTW, the only character I found appealing, a Polish Jew who fought in WWII).
Somehow, though, on crossing the threshold into Rigg's fantasy world, I felt as if I was Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, in Kansas B&W, poised to open a door into a living color Oz but ending up instead in an odd world of drab grey. It's different but not terribly appealing or even interesting.
However, it's a credit to Riggs that even those who don't like the book would probably have difficulty not pushing through to the end where we find some important questions answered, observe a key decision made, and watch a sequel -- shamelessly? -- being set up. The idea of basing a novel upon quirky old pictures is one that I find fascinating but the end result isn't as good as it looks.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is basically the Star Wars story in a Lord of the Rings setting. Since both of those tales are classic, this combination can't...more**spoiler alert** This is basically the Star Wars story in a Lord of the Rings setting. Since both of those tales are classic, this combination can't lose. That is, when you can stop your mind from constantly being directed back to the other stories (i.e., "this is the part where Luke comes back and finds his uncle and aunt" or "this is the Battle of Helms Deep").
Other than those major distractions, it has some winning and originally creative moments. Still, I couldn't help constantly sensing that the whole thing had been written by a clever 17 year-old . . . which of course, it was!(less)