Saturday, August 13, 2011

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

My rating: 3/5

From Amazon: "As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see."

I really, really hoped that I would enjoy this book, but maybe my hopes were just too high.  The premise sounded good.  The writing really wasn't terrible.  But there were too many major problems with it that kept me from enjoying it.

1. The story really doesn't get rolling until about the last third of the book.  The first 2/3 are fine, but as far as what I expected from the book (the peculiar children, a mysterious orphanage, etc.), I had a while to wait.

2. Once we get into the meat of it, there are too many characters.  I had a really hard time keeping them all straight when they were all involved in the action-y bits.  The main few were easy enough; the rest, not so much, especially when some of their names begin with the same letter.

3. The photographs seemed forced.  The author used several real (though sometimes slightly altered) old photos to represent the peculiar children.  It's a neat idea, but for the most part, I felt that the writing was forced to fit the photos.  And sometimes the photos still didn't fit, such as a photo supposedly of a child being obviously of an adult, and photos that were supposed to be of the same person not looking identical.

4. Only one of the children's "peculiarities" seemed unique. I won't spoil what it is, but the others were, in my opinion, tired examples of special abilities.  A floating girl, an invisible boy, a girl who creates fire, a girl with super strength, a boy with prophetic dreams, etc.  I've seen these represented in fiction too many times to think they're cool.

That being said, part of my problem with the book probably has to do with the fact that it seems to have been written for a younger audience.  The writing is good and flows relatively well, but it doesn't get very in depth into anything, especially emotional moments.  However, there is a bit of swearing (as a typical 16-year-old probably would do), and there were a few scenes that were more violent and gory than I expected, especially for something that felt more appropriate for a young adult audience (rather than the YA/adult lit that I tend to enjoy more).

The book ends at a point in the story that definitely implies sequels.  I wasn't disappointed in the ending though, and there is a plus side for anyone who wants more of the story: implications that we may see Jacob's grandfather again... and possible battles with monster Nazis. 

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