Sunday, February 22, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Publication Date:  June 7, 2011 
Publisher:  Quirk
Series:  Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1
Pages:  352
Genre:  Paranormal
Synopsis:  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.

Review:  There is a lot of hype surrounding this book.  Everybody, and I do mean everybody, seems to love it.  Except for me.  Don't get me wrong, it was a decent read.  But with all the talk about it, I expected more.

I found Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children to be a slow moving story.  It is creative and eccentric, but some parts are a bit boring while others are thrilling page-turners.  I wish the plot was a little more consistent.  This book has a great gothic vibe to it, but it is not as sinister as I had hoped it to be.  I originally presumed this to be a horror novel full of ghosts and monsters, but it is simply what the title says, peculiar.  

However, I couldn't quite get into this one.  It didn't grab hold of me and suck me in like I wanted it to.  The plot progressed in a very predictable manner.  It started off fine, eerie and full of mystery.  But when the setting changes to the island, it takes an almost whimsical turn and ends up seeming like Alice in Wonderland.  I am not a huge fan of the diction.  There are some grand descriptive paragraphs that, while being well written, I find difficult to believe a teenage boy would actually think or say things like that.  

The setting is something I really did enjoy, though.  A orphanage on a small island during WWII, full of kids possessing strange abilities?  Yes, please.  The old wrecks of abandoned ships and U-boats are a nice touch, something I have never read about before.  

The Loop is, hands down, my favorite aspect of this book.  It is sort of a spoiler to explain much about it, but basically it is a time loop that resets to begin the same day over again.  This is unique and down right exciting.  The vintage photographs that make this book so different, however, are not something I enjoyed too much.  The pictures are strange and make the story easier to imagine, but I feel the author relies too heavily on them to create the story. 

What I really dislike is the lack of characterization.  There is a large cast of characters that are not fleshed out nearly enough. The main protagonist, Jacob,  is one I find pretty dull.  There's times where I didn't even like him and I certainly did not agree with some of his decisions.  He exhibits a lack of caring towards his family and friends, which is odd, especially when he acts completely different in his relationship with the Peculiars.  One thing in particular bothered me, and that is Jacob's sudden and inexplicable romance between him and Emma.  I can't say exactly why, as that also seems to be a bit of a spoiler, but I just don't think that their relationship should have occurred.

One frustrating thing is that this story ends at the beginning of a journey, hopefully one that will be more intense than the first.  It ends at the most exciting part, an obvious set up for the sequel.  It does work, though, as I will most likely be reading the next one.    

In its entirety,  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an unconventional and atmospheric book that is worth reading.  It does lack a wow factor, though, much to my disappointment.  Let's hope the sequel is more adventurous.  

3 Keys

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