Hollow City is one of those sequel novels that irons out many of the kinks in the first novel. It further goes to prove that the quality of children's and young adult' fiction is improving all the more in this day and age. Where once such books were throw away pieces to pass the time till younger readers could engage with more serious pieces of literature, today they are or should be recognised as being equally serious and nuanced - with the same level of power as books regarded as more mature.
In Hollow City the themes of the previous novel are explored further and with. One of the things I've appreciated with the two books in this series so far is the play upon the mixture of vintage history (through the photographs or factual evidence) and modernity. For instance the whole idea of vile wights existing and infiltrating all sorts of historical areas (such as Nazi Germany) and using them to hunt down gypsies and peculiars is one such example.
I suppose the greater theme to be found in these novels though is the theme about identity and belonging. Several of the peculiars try to dismiss others because their 'peculiarities' or powers do not make them as peculiar or unusual as themselves. It has always interested me that even those who are on the fringes of , or 'othered' by, society can still find time to dismiss and others those within their particular 'caste'. It seems that humanity is destined to a history and future of classification, stratification and separation where possible so that we can consider some among us to be more desirably human than others. Which is something sad considering that true human worth and beauty is not about appearances but about character, heart and existing as an individual.
On the whole I loved both the first two books. I, do however, still find some aspects to them at times slightly rough or jarring and so cannot consider them perfect books. Yet in terms of the story, the writing and the whole conception, these are novels which are nicely polished and as such I think should be read ahead of many other young adult novels.