Saturday, July 20, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I won't lie, I had absolutely no intention of reading this book, thanks to the creepy little girl on the cover. My bookseller friends were all interested in reading it, but I kept taking a pass, until I saw it on an impulse desk at my library. I mean, why not pick up a book then? The lesson that I learned is the age old "Don't judge a book by its cover." I was blown away at how fascinating the story was, and the originality and work involved in creating a story out of a collection of old photographs. In my opinion, Riggs did a phenomenal job introducing characters and plot out of random unconnected pictures, and Miss Peregrine is a 5 out of 5 star series/author debut.

From the publisher:
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. 

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.

My thoughts:
I thought this was a well thought out story; evidently Riggs has imagination aplenty to come up with such a colorful backstory to so many unrelated photographs. I found myself dreading the moment when I had to put the book down to get sleep or go to work or something, eagerly anticipating the next chance I'd have to pick it back up and see what Jacob was up to. The peculiar children are much more interesting, and less creepy, than the photographs suggest, and it was easy to imagine what they would be like if I were to visit Wales and run into them at the crumbling orphanage.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard about this book is that it wasn't what people had expected from the cover/summary, and honestly I am relieved that it wasn't what I expected. I don't really like creepy or scary, as my overactive imagination tends to give me nightmares. Especially since I read so much at night rather than during the day.

As much as I hate being 'that guy', I've been trying to find more books told from a male POV. So many young adult novels are told by a female, and while I do still read and enjoy them, it'd be nice to be able to relate to the narrator just a little bit more (Hunger Games and Divergent are awesome, but I start fading out when the narrators are discussing the guys they are interested in). Jacob is a confused, lost teenager trying to make sense of what happened to his grandfather, and it was refreshing to be able to identify so well with the protagonist and to not have to cross any gender boundaries. Again, though, I'm not trying to be sexist or anything. I just would like to see more male narrators in the world of young adult novels (and for them not to be about sports and only sports).

Overall I found Miss Peregrine to be unique, inventive, and very entertaining, and I'm looking forward to the release of Hollow City, the second Ransom Riggs novel, in January. If you haven't taken a look at this New York Times bestseller yet, you should definitely get on that :)

- Justin

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