Friday, August 16, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Summary (from Goodreads):
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, 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 who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason.

And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.
So this book was not at all what I was expecting it to be, or even what it started out to be…if that makes sense. It took me a long time to get into the story because the writing style is a little dryer and older than most YA books tend to be (let alone YA books aimed for the younger set, that this book seems to appeal to the most). Also, it kind of begins like a classic horror story, and when I say classic, I mean Henry James (not The Exorcist).
It’s very reflective and descriptive like a classic piece of literature, and normally this would super appeal to me (as a past English major), but I wasn’t feeling the whole horror story setup. I’m glad I kept reading though because it quickly became clear to me that this wasn’t a horror story at all, so much as a fantastic piece of fantasy!
I really don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I feel like the world has done such a good job of covering up what really happens in this book. And not knowing can be so wonderful sometimes.  The horror story ends in the first quarter though. Once Jacob is on the island, it’s pure magic. It’s time travel, special abilities, mystery, history, and pure amazing. There was just enough mystery in the beginning of the book to prevent me from putting it down. And I’m so glad for that mystery because, wow. This was so unexpected for me!
The photographs did add to the creep factor, and they continue to be creepy throughout the book, even with the not so scary context you receive as you plunge forward into the adventure. There were a couple of things I guessed at (particularly the big, important things about Jacob’s grandfather), but overall I was genuinely surprised throughout the whole story. I loved the characters (though I kind of hated Jacob’s father). I loved all the twists (and there were a lot)! And I super loved all of the crazy, out-of-this-world explanations for the craziness that is the island where the school is.
I felt so bad for Jacob in the beginning too. I wish I got to know his grandfather better, and I think that’s what the author wanted me to feel. I also loved all the children! It was kind of like a very messed up, school of witchcraft and wizardry. And this messed up school was tied in knots with World War II, current society, bullying, and so much more!
Ever since LOST, I’ve been a sucker for stories with time loops. And let me tell you, this time loop story was insane. The fantastical elements of this book were unique and addicting, and I was so anxious to figure them all out. I also loved the characters. And it really ended up being such a classic, coming of age story too. Jacob really becomes a man throughout his experiences here, and I loved him so much more for it.
And the ending blew me away. The author kind of ended it on a note for possibilities of a sequel (though the pub date is 2011 and I’ve had no knowledge of one yet). But I kind of like it for a stand-alone ending. Not all things have to have clear-cut endings. I like to think of these characters as fighting for what they believe in till their last breaths. All in all, the writing was excellent, the surprises were great, the characters were awesome, and I just loved it. You have to get through a slightly wordy/dry beginning, but it’s so worth it. I give this a 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. I adored this book too. It was just so different from other books and I loved the photos that were in it too. I'm looking forward to the sequel. Nice review. :)