The March book of my online reading book club :)
A collection of odd vintage photographs and the mysterious and violent death of his beloved grandfather leads Jacob on a trip to a remote island by Wales, where he yearns to find out the truth behind his grandfather’s death and his cryptic last words. Everyone’s convinced Jacob’s having a mental breakdown over the death, but Jacob knows he’s not — he really did see monsters kill his grandpa. Or he thinks he did anyway … after several therapist sessions, even Jacob is starting to think maybe he’s just gone crazy. But the discovery of a broken down house and a miraculous encounter with the peculiar children of his grandfather’s story convinces Jacob that he isn’t seeing things. The monsters were real, and the peculiar children are in great danger.
The problem I had with this book was that it was boring. The plot is weak and moves at an awkward fast-slow-fast-slow pace. It was such a disappointment after the intriguing beginning. The beginning was really well written, in my opinion. I was sucked into the story immediately. It is rather unfortunate that it went steeply downhill from there.
The characters were not very well developed. Jacob, the main character, is a bit of a wishy-washy narrator. He never seems to really know what he wants. He didn’t have any goals to work towards in this novel. It was just, “I’m going to this island … I have no idea what I am looking for, but maybe it will help.” And when he got to the island, he was like, “I’m here now. I have no idea what I’m doing.” Jacob’s father, the one parent that had the most stage-time in this book, had some potential — a bird enthusaist who clearly had some self-esteem issues and was worried that if he didn’t do something productive with his life soon, his wealthy wife would leave him — but the author didn’t really do much with him. Which is a real shame because his back story and his issues sound like they could make a pretty damn interesting novel. As for the other characters, the peculiar children and what not, they had interesting abilities, but not much of a personality.
The most redeeming quality of this book are the photographs, I feel. They range from mildly odd to downright eerie. I think the author must have really loved the photos and wanted to use them to make a coherent plot. The problem with this is that sometimes, in order to include a certain photo or set of photos, unnecessary details or scenes were added into the narrative. I think this contributed to the awkward pacing of the story, and also may be why I felt the plot felt rather weak; the story was constrained by the photographs. It couldn’t deviate too far from the story the pictures told when arranged in a certain order. So this book’s strength is also its weakness … heh.
As a whole, I just didn’t dig this book. The photos were cool and I really enjoyed the writing style, but the other important components of a novel, namely plot and characters, fell way too short for my tastes.