This is a peculiar book. I was intrigued by the combination of fiction and vintage photographs, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. The writing is beautiful, and the photographs are beautiful, but they went together a little awkwardly. Some of the photographs seem like they were forced into the story. The story includes a few pointless details to accommodate the photographs. The plot is slightly convoluted because it has to explain the pictures. However, this is a very unique idea, and I will happily read the sequel. It took an amazing imagination to write this book.
The best part of the book is the imagery. There are some awesome scenes. My favorites are the peculiar children raising the dead and Jacob and Emma visiting the shipwreck for the first time. The monsters are also vividly described and creepy. I got a good sense of the island, its history, and its people. I liked that a lot.
Some elements of the plot are predictable. As soon as Jacob saw his first monster, I knew where the story was going, but I liked the ending. The identity of the monster was a surprise to me. The loops could have used more explanation. I don't think I totally understand how or why they work.
Unlike the peculiar children, Jacob is forgettable. He's bland and ordinary, which was probably intentional, but I like narrators with a little more personality. I finished the book yesterday, and I've already forgotten pretty much everything about him. The only thing that I remember clearly is his creepy relationship with Emma. Emma is 80-something-years-old. Jacob is 16. Emma dated Jacob's grandfather. Jacob is in love with her. Yuck. Just, yuck. (By the way, I had this exact same yuck problem with Twilight
.) Age is much more than just how you look.
Aside from the romance, this book is unique, mysterious, and captivating. If you're looking for an out-of-the-box YA book, I'd recommend this one.