Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Series #1
Quirk Books, 6 July 2011
352 Pages
3.5 Stars
Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography.

I really enjoyed reading this Ransom Riggs book, which turned out to be nothing like I expected. For awhile, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about. As Jacob believed his grandfather’s stories, and then didn’t believe them because a real, believable story about WWII was told, I wasn’t sure how it would go. When he finally got to the house and things started to be revealed, I was so delighted because I was surprised by the turn of events.

I thought that the characters were developed fairly well for a first book in the series. Even though Abe dies fairly quickly, I still got a good picture of him through other character’s descriptions of him. I also came to know Jacob well-enough, although I do wish that he was a little more developed. Even though this is only the first book in a series, I think he could have been better fleshed out since he’s the main character. I also wonder a lot about Emma and what motivates her, but she came so late in the novel that I expect her to be really developed in the next book.

The writing style I found easy and charming. It was descriptive where it needed to be but not overly-laden with adjectives. There where moments when I was so nervous or afraid that sudden noises in my house made me jump. And there were scenes where I could feel the joy and calm of the day.

The overall story was really captivating, even if it wasn’t completely original. The pacing was just a touch slow for me, though. I found myself with a fourth of the book left, wondering when something BIG was going to happen. And by “big” I mean “bad.”

One thing that really confused me, though, and which I had a difficult time accepting, was the sudden romantic relationship.  It felt forced and unrealistic for the female love interest to be interested in Jacob without more time and her own letting of her past romantic relationship.   

I loved the magical realism, though. For awhile, I wasn’t even sure if this book was going to have magic in it, even after Jacob saw the monster. I liked the idea of magic being a hereditary trait, and it only manifesting itself in a single way, unlike witches or wizards who have the ability to do magic in general.

And I know a lot of people have been comparing it to X-Men, but besides the school for gifted children, it’s pretty different.

I also thought the pictures really added to the overall tone of the story. For awhile, I was totally creeped out about what was happening in the book. I wasn’t sure if this was going to turn into a horror novel with ghost children or not. But then when everything was explained, the pictures became enlightening and almost charming.

Overall, I gave this book 3.5 stars, and I will be picking up the next book, Hollow City.