Published by Quirk Books on June 7th 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
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A New York Times #1 best seller On the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 52 consecutive weeks Includes an excerpt from the much-anticipated sequel and an interview with author Ransom Riggs 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. “A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work together brilliantly to create an unforgettable story.”—John Green, New York Times best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars “With its X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail, it’s no wonder Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been snapped up by Twentieth Century Fox. B+”—Entertainment Weekly “‘Peculiar’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Riggs’ chilling, wondrous novel is already headed to the movies.”—People “You’ll love it if you want a good thriller for the summer. It’s a mystery, and you’ll race to solve it before Jacob figures it out for himself.”—Seventeen
When I was a child, one of my favourite things to do was to look through pictures in books – children’s picture books, colouring books, etc. – and tell stories in my mind with them.
For example, a picture of two children holding hands would start this story of friendship, which would then grow with every picture, introducing grander stories and dragons, unicorns, whatever the pictures gave me.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reminds me of that.
This story, for me, feels completely disjointed and messy. It is evidently framed around this marvelous collection of creepy, vintage photographs, but the story is not smoothly incorporated. It reads like you can imagine the author viewing each image and trying to find a way to fit it into the plot of the book.
Here’s a weird image of a girl smoking a pipe and peeling potatoes, how can I make that part of the story? Here’s a creepy picture of some twins in clown outfits, how do I add that to the book?
And if you’re thinking of reading this as a creepy book for Halloween – it is not scary at all. The narrative never delivers an atmosphere deserving of the photography. It’s all a bit bland and never becomes anything more than a standard paranormal tale about teens/children with special powers.
Additionally, the narrator – Jacob – is simply not a character I like to read about. I hate it when rich, privileged narrators constantly wallow in their own self-pity for no good reason. Here, he says:
If I never went home, what exactly would I be missing? I pictured my cold cavernous house, my friendless town full of bad memories, the utterly unremarkable life that had been mapped out for me.
What??? He is from a ridiculously wealthy family and has two loving parents and lives in a huge house. He did have a part time job, but he took it for granted and spent his time showing up late and deliberately shelving things wrong because he wanted to be fired. He also did have a best friend, but his friend not surprisingly walked out after this exchange:
“What are you, my mom?”
“Do I look like I blow truckers for food stamps?”
I did not like him at all. Some unlikable characters are unlikable in a complex and interesting way, but Jacob is just a spoiled, entitled and selfish brat.
Add that to the simplistic, yet messy, storytelling and this book was completely disappointing. I’m also tempted to say it “reads like a middle grade” book, but that would be an insult to some of the fantastic middle grade books I’ve read recently. It just reads like a not very good book.