Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

51bJJ1wQNPLTitle: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Quirck Books
Publication Date: June 7th 2011
Rating: 3 stars
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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.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children wasn’t entirely what I expected. For starters, the great mystery is revealed way too early in this book, and from that point on, the story goes entirely downhill. The bad guys aren’t very convincing, the sense of mystery and suspense is completely lost and all we’re left with is what was potentially a great story, but ended up being badly executed. I have to give credit where credit is due though, and admit that I loved the weird and bizarre photographs attached to the novel. I unfortunately didn’t love them enough to give this novel a higher rating. Very unfortunate since this my first review of 2012, and I wanted to start it in style, but honesty requires me to gives this the rating it deserves according to me, and that’s a three.

This book started off fabulously, and definitely very promising. The author has a quircky, humourous way with descriptions and the photographs added to this book give it a very surreal, creepy atmosphere. Especially the photograph with one girl staring into a pond, and the pond reflecting that girl and another girl next to her. That photographs gives me the creeps. The problem is that Riggs never does anything with it. Sure, he relies heavily on the photographs to tell his story, but he doesn’t use them to his full advantage. It’s like he doesn’t realize their creepy faction, or isn’t sure how to use it to his most advantage. For me, the photos were the best part of the book, as they were the things sucking me into the story – not the story itself, which was unfortunate. Additionally, these photographs give off a very creepy vibe, and I initially that the book would be a horror story. Or at least a story about paranormal children with some hints of horror in it. But alas, this book has no trace whatsoever of anything remotely scary. You could read this in the dead of night and after you’ve finished reading it, you can safely turn off the lights and go to bed. That’s how scary this book is.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with Riggs’ writing style or creativity, mind you. The only thing I have some major problems with is his plot. It builds up nicely enough as our main character, Jacrob, goes to find out more about his grandfather’s past. Apparently his grandfather hid from the Nazis in WWII, but he didn’t hide because he was Jewish. No, he hid because he has supernatural powers. Like the X-Men, Spiderman, Bat Man, Superman, you name it. And because of those powers, he went to hide in a place adequately called Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Now, that’s the good and creative part of this book. It’s also interesting to see how Jacob meets the other peculiar children and interacts with them. But once the mystery is revealed, the book should have ended. Period. There is nothing keeping us, or the main character, there. But of course the author had to come up with some unconvincing bad guys to throw in yet another epic battle of the likes I’ve seen a thousand times before.

I don’t even want to talk about our main character and his lack of personality. In short, Jacob is another cardboard figure character, who could easily be replaced by a giant milk bottle or trash bin, and nobody would know the difference. Jacob is also the most obnoxious, ignorant, arrogant and foolish character I’ve ever come across in young adult literature. His parents are obscenely rich, but I can live with that. What I can’t live with, is the fact that he continously uses this money to do whatever the heck he wants to do. He works in the family business thanks to his uncle, but goes out of his way to make his boss’ life miserable and constantly behaves like a five-year-old. And why? Because he doesn’t want to work in the family business. Uhm, yes, Jacob, maybe it’s time for you to grow up, ever thought abotu that? But you know what the worst part of all is? The author actually wants us to feel sorry for Jacob. He has absolutely no friends, and with that, I mean, the big number zero. Probably because all the neighborhood kids are smart enough to see him for the pathetic excuse for a human being he really is. His parents, while dealing with their own grief, don’t listen to every single word Jacob utters, and they also temporily forget to worship the ground he’s walking on. So Jacob takes whatever money he can get and goes to Wales in search of his grandfather’s history.

But even though he’s an obnoxious idiot who should have never made it as the main character of any book, at least Jacob has an ounce of personality. The other children mentioned in this book? Don’t make me laugh. They’re less than side characters. They’re not even characters at all, and none of them have the creepy vibe this book suggests. I don’t want to give away any plot holes here, but these children have been stuck in the same time loop for about seventy years. That means that all of them are at least eighty-something years old. I may be wrong a decade or two on the math – I hate math – but take my word for it, they’re old. So naturally, in line of Twilight and the enitre ‘date a vampire craze’ books, which I actually do like opposed to this one, Jacob falls in love with Emma, one of the peculiar children at Miss Peregrine’s home. But wait, I forgot to mention something. This Emma girl is the same girl his grandfather was in love with all those years ago. And to make things even more bizarre, the first reaction she had when she saw Jacob was nearly kill him. I’m all over girl power and such, but that’s just going overboard.

I had hoped, with the author being a guy, that this book would skip the romance part altogether, but unfortunately, no such luck. And not only is the romance extremely badly delived – could they be anymore awkward? – it’s also well, eww. This is the girl his grandfather was snogging with, for god’s sake. It’s like a cheap Jerry Springer show episode or something. I’m just going to say ewww and not shut up about it.

It’s like the author sat down to write a book, and had a really great background story and premise in mind. Then, when he was nearly done, he felt the need to add more, because let’s face it, 200 pages just wasn’t enough. Then he came up with this unbelievable, bland and boring story entering nazis, a bombing and a time loop. He had his bad guys and the scene for some epic sort of battle, and he was happy. The rest of us, not so much. Part one of this book was amazing, and the only reason why I’m still rating it a three. The second part was everything a book shouldn’t be, and more often than not, I feel the need to simply stop reading. I’m glad I pulled it through till the very end, but I will definitely NOT be reading the sequel.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a very misleading book. The vintage photographs it shows give you the feeling that you’re going to read a scary and eerie young adult novel, whereas you’re absolutely not. Then, when you start reading it, you’re thinking it’s actually a mystery/fantasy novel you’re reading, and you’re fine with that. But in the second half this book turns into a badly functioning romance story, and it just goes downhill from there. It’s actually so bad, that I’m entirely dissapointed with it and I wouldn’t recommend it. The plot is predictable and boring, the characters are bland, and you want to know the worst part? I think the author is going to write a sequel. Now all the mystery is gone, this book simply comes down to the X-men but then back in WWII. A sequel would just be more of the same, and we’ve already had an entire series of X-Men movies and comic books, there’s no need to make another.

I do recommend you to take up this book and look at the photographs. You will probably find them fascinating and eerie, like I did. But don’t let them fool you into buying this book or even worse, reading it. And if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Unsurprisingly though, a lot of people rate this book highly, so it might have potential for them, but it definitely doesn’t for me.

This book counts towards the TBR Reading Challenge, the Mystery and Suspense Challenge and the Fantasy Challenge.

Comments

  1. I liked this book (my thoughts: http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=3122 especially considering the targeted audience (YA).

    I thought that Jacob’s search was the main part of the story but I did want to hear more about the grandfather’s WWII adventures.

    Great review by the way.

  2. I agree with you on a few points, but I think he kinda executed Jacob’s personality pretty well, especially for being a rich kid. I mean if you think about having all this money to do whatever you want with, why the heck would you wanna work for your uncle’s business? And, yeah, he was bratty, but what snobby rich kid isn’t?

    At first I thought Emma was just using him at the beginning, like as if to replace him with his grandfather in a creepy twilight zoney way. I was pretty creeped out by the romance though. It was weird to me. I really do wish Ransom would’ve left that bit out and left it as a bunch of kids running around and having fun in a very “Aunt T!”ish way. (if you get my reference)

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