November 15, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children follows the story of 16 year old Jacob.  Jacob grew up dreaming of adventure and listening to his grandfather tell tales of a magical safe haven, levitating and invisible children, and of fighting evil monsters.  Although the teenage Jacob no longer believes in such stories, he finds himself questioning everything he thinks he knows after his grandfather's sudden violent death. He embarks on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up in hopes of finding answers.

The book starts off strong.  The first person narration is compelling and fast-paced.  The first half of the book does a wonderful job with letting the story unfold in such a way that keeps you wanting more. 

What makes this book so extraordinary are the creepy vintage photographs.  Whenever the narrator describes a photograph (or occasionally a letter or handwritten note), it is included on the next page.  I frequently caught myself peeking ahead in the book, hoping for another photo.

I wasn't quite as impressed with the second half of the book.  There was a lot of flat-out of telling the mythology behind the action, rather than building it up organically.  The character of Emma was disappointingly two-dimensional.  Indeed, most of the Peculiar Children weren't fleshed out enough, both in terms of their personality and their back stories.  (There is a particularly eerie photo of two "snacking ballerinas" that could easily give you nightmares--but their characters are never even addressed.) 

Despite the creepy photographs, this novel is closer to a fantasy novel than a horror story. 

Four stars

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  1. This one's on my TBR pile... looking forward to it.

  2. I enjoyed that. My only criticism to the publisher, is that I think this is a good boy read, and boys of the right age might be turned off by the cover picture of the floating girl. Nice review

  3. Nicole, tell me what you think! Thanks, Janet, and good point. It's a shame that teenage boys see a girl on the cover or a girl protaganist and automatically classify it as a "girl" book, but that's the way it goes. The adventure/fantasy element would definitely appeal to boys.


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