I’d seen this book floating around and remembered that it had been turned into a movie (I think that’s two books in a row now that have or will be turned into a movie). I ended up picking this book up at my mom’s house. She was getting ready to have a garage sale and some of her friends had brought over things they wanted to get rid of. She had a giant box of books, so of course, I had to dig through. I also got a few other good books that’ll I’ll eventually review (Doctor Zhivago is one of them).
Even though I’d seen a lot of popularity with this book, heard it was a movie, I really didn’t know at all what it was about, besides that it must be (hopefully) about a school for abnormal children. I was interested right away with the title and the cover. The book starts with Jacob, a teenage who ends up spending a lot of time with his grandfather. His father and him have never been close, but for some reason, he instantly connects with his grandfather, who always has an interesting story to tell. Grandpa Portman tells stories of monsters during the War, of people he knew as a child who could create fire in their hands, who could fly, and who could bring anything to life. As a child, Jacob loved the stories, but for the most part assumed they were fake, even though Grandpa shows him photographs of these so called special children. The photos don’t look very real so he passes them off as forgeries, ways to elaborate, or make great a life during the war, most likely filled with loss.
But (kinda spoiler), the untimely death of his grandfather brings everything Jacob has known in his life and turned it upside down. Right before he dies, his grandfather whispers to him a cryptic message. For weeks, he tries to figure out what it means, and almost goes crazy trying to figure it out. One fateful day, all the pieces come together and he finds a letter written by an unknown woman, but someone he feels will help him put his mind at rest and answer questions that have been mulling in his mind ever since grandpa died. When more information comes to light, he finds that his answers might lie on an island in Wales, so he persuades his father to come on this trip with him, telling him that he wants to see the island where his father lived years ago in order to squelch his anxiety.
They arrive on the island and Jacob is able to escape off to explore the island and the house where his grandfather lived to escape WWII. The house is an abandoned reck and he is immediately dissappointed in his findings. He goes back into town and finds the local historian to ask about the house. The historian tells him that the house was destroyed in WWII during a bombing raid.
This answer confuses Jacob and starts to send his mind into spirals. The letter that the woman had written to Jacob’s grandfather, that was postmarked from this property, was dated from the 70s. How could this be?
This brings more determination to Jacob to figure out what is going on, and who is grandfather really was.
I thought the chocolate oatmeal stout went well with this book because it’s a dark beer that is often drank when it’s cool out. Even though it’s warm here, the book takes place in a rain-ridden island that’s always cool, so it fit the bill.
The book overall, was well written and entertaining. I think it was written a little prematurely to be coming from a 16 year-old’s perspective, but it wasn’t too extreme and there are mature enough 16 year-olds that I guess I could believe it. I’m going to see if I can find the movie on Netflix and see what it was like.
Overall rating: 9/10