Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Pages: 352
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publishing Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Paranormal (YA)
Source: Bought

A mysterious island.An abandoned orphanage.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 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. 

My Review:
I actually had to read Miss Peregrine for a class on Pop Culture that I am taking right now...definitely not a hardship on my part because I've had it on my TBR list for about a year now. There's nothing like school to give you an excuse to read the books you want to! Though perhaps I should have read the synopsis a little more closely because Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was not what I expected at all. A ton of people have compared it to Harry Potter, only in the 1940's...or Harry Potter when done creepier, but you know what? I didn't see it. The only similarities I found were in the fact that there was a school for children. The Home is nothing like Hogwarts, which seemed magical in itself, instead the magic was found solely within the children, known as Peculiars.

Our story begins shortly before the death of Jacob's grandfather. He's lived all his life listening to tales of the Peculiar children and the monsters that chased them. Like any boy in the 21st century, Jacob stops believing the stories once he leaves childhood, but everything he knows is called into question when he sees one of the monsters murdering his grandfather before his own eyes. His family thinks he's lost his mind at the sight of his grandfather's death so they don't believe him and instead of protecting him, they ship him off to therapy. Now the only clues to solving the murder are an old photo album that Jake thinks is fake and two old letters written in the 1930's leading him to a mysterious Scottish Isle and towards the truth of the Peculiar children and the Others that haunted both Jake and his grandpa.

I have to say that I absolutely adored the characters of this story. The MC was Jake "Yacob" and he was a very troubled soul who struggled to deal with his grandfather's death, everyone thinking he was insane, and the fact that his entire world-view is altered in the space of a week. He has to have this totally admirable strength to deal with all of that (even though he starts to be brainwashed into thinking that he is crazy...) Unfortunately he was a bit immature for my tastes, blindly believing the adults around him without proof of what they said. I could barely believe this simple-seeming boy managed to convince all the adults in his life to let him go halfway across the world to Scotland, but even that seemed to have been orchestrated by someone outside of his control. He definitely seems to grow as the story goes on, but while he is growing into himself, the other characters have already found themselves and are so much stronger than Jake because of it.

Though I don't want to give too much away, the Peculiar Children were endearing and terrifying at the same time. There was a whole host of them with freakish powers that could lash out at any time, some of which couldn't be controlled. I especially loved Olivia and Emily because of how they had such control (or lack thereof in Olly's case) of their powers. Emily was an especially spunky love-interest. From her snappy and witty comebacks, tendency towards violence, and riot of flame colored hair(in addition to flames in her hands), what guy wouldn't love her? Well...apparently that was exactly the case because both Jake and his grandfather have a romantic relationship with the same girl. That's the problem when one child grows up and has his own kids while the other stays a 14-year-old forever...Still...I got a major case of the icky's when I realized that Jake could literally be dating his own grandmother...it was weird.

Though the plot was fun, light, and simply written, there was something...sinister ...that was underlining the story the entire time. Here you have this magical island where the same beautiful day happens over and over again and the children never grow up and the bombings of WWII are just a game. At the same time, there is a dead boy laying in a bed, never rotting, never aging more than a day into death...and those bombs that the children play games with really fell and really killed thousands of people... You can never just relax while reading this story, there's always a sense of unease and the potential for danger or violence, no matter how charming the peculiar children may seem.

 A review of this book would be entirely incomplete without talking about the photographs. Oh.My.GOD were they freaky!!! In today's world where everything seems to have violence and movie-makers have to go to extreme levels just to get a rise out of us (think Hostel and Saw...) Riggs managed to freak me out using simple photographs...not violent ones mind you...just photographs that were slightly off...just out of the ordinary...just enough to make your skin crawl and the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.*shudders* You really have to pay attention to the details in the photos because it's often one tiny image that is slightly off and makes the whole photo become something bizarre and freaky. I kid you not, I literally had to sleep with the lights on in my hall because the photos had me so uneasy...and it isn't even that scary of a book! It really goes to show that pictures are worth 1000 words sometimes...and sometimes those words shouldn't be spoken...
I give Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 4 Stars. It was a little more immature in it's writing style than I was expecting and I still can't get over the fact that Jack was dating what could have been his grandma...freaked.me.out.But at the same time it was still a fantastically written story with a lot of new twists and takes on the genre that make you want to stick around and see what happens. I am so thrilled that there will be a sequel because I can't wait to see more about the time-loops and maybe get a better glimpse of the dark black "others" that everyone is so afraid of...am I the only one being reminded of Lost here? Secret island...peculiar characters...the others....anyone? anyone?


  1. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile! Great review. I definitely enjoyed it.

  2. I've never heard of this book...seems like a good setting for a movie. I love the pictures. I wonder if they will show up on my kindle lol...

  3. The pictures are a bonus I'd say. I'm dying to read this. Kind of strange that some compare it to Harry Potter. This looks creepy good.