Saturday, July 14, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. Fiction is based on real black and white photographs. The death of grandfather Abe sends 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, and explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways. The children may still live.

When I picked this book up I was a bit afraid of what I’d find. There’s been so many glowing reviews that it seemed like a book that was sure to be a letdown. In some ways, the book lived up to its expectations, in others…not so much.

I must admit, the beginning is a bit slow. The story didn’t really capture my attention until a little before half-way through. It’s not that the story per se is written badly (although it’s not amazing writing) or in a boring manner, it’s just that it’s not particularly original. At least not until later. When it does pick up, though, there’s no stopping it. The plot takes over and it’s hard to put the book down. I read the last quarter breathlessly.

The characters are fun, especially Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children, although we don’t really get much background on any of them. The narrator, Jacob, is not quite as engaging, but he is perfectly adequate. I assume we’ll get to know him much more in the books to come.

Surprisingly, what bugged me the most about the entire book were the pictures. By themselves, they are fascinating and inherently creepy, but included in the story like they are, they just seemed forced. As if the book had been written by drawing them at random and deciding “okay, so this is what happens next”. In my opinion, the book would have been stronger if they’d been left out, or if the author had just sent us to a website where we could find all of them.

All in all, a fun read that I do recommend, though don’t expect it to awe you as much as you think.


365_books_a_year said...

This book is the first of a series. I didn't figure that out until the end- then I checked out the book more thoroughly and realized it was part of a series. I had a suspicion that I would find the pictures to be too gimmicky- that's why I never would have read this knowing it was a series. It's a "cute" trick, maybe, for one book. But as an ongoing, not all all to me. After reading the book, I think the picture thing was over used in just one book. Unless people I know and whose opinion I trust rave about book 2, I won't be reading any more of this series.

Jae said...

I haven't read this book but, like you, heard tons of great things about it. I almost picked it up a few weeks ago but already had a ton of books to read so held off. Reading your review it doesn't sound like I'm missing out on anything. So thanks for saving me the read! :)