Monday, September 19, 2011

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

My Rating: <3 <3

I was really anxious to read this book. The idea sounded interesting, and I was curious to see what I thought of images and writing being combined to enhance a story. I'd read some reviews before I picked it up and the largest complaint I noticed was people claiming that this was a rip-off of the X-Men. Alright, I thought. I can handle that.

But I must say, I disagree. My rating is not based on that at all. Don't misunderstand: there are things that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children does very well. But there are too many things that went wrong; things that resulted in my feeling relief when I closed the cover. That is never a good sign. Anyway, read on and I'll tell you what I think of it. You can make up your own mind.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)

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.

The Plot for this book moved very, very slow. For the first five chapters I was bored. If I wasn't reading this for the Fall Book Club, I don't think I would have made it that far. 

I understand that when writing anything that is strange or different, that you must set things up and build them in such a way that the reader can follow along and understand. But I felt like everything in this book was dragged out too much. I had a hard time staying focused and found myself skimming lengthy descriptions about things I was not interested in. 

The plot does pick up (slowly) as the book progresses, and by the end there was some interesting stuff happening, but under normal circumstances I would never have made it that far. I must admit, though, that the "ending" does make me wonder whether I will buy a sequel if one comes out. I'll give Riggs that. 

The Characters:

So if the plot is as slow as a turtle, that means the characters got lots of detail, right? Nope. Or at least, I did not find myself really connecting with them in any meaningful way. 

I did not connect with Jacob. I'm not sure if he was not interesting enough for me, or perhaps if this is how a guy feels when he picks up a YA book that stars a girl. I'm going to go with the first statement, though -- I love the Harry Potter books, for instance, and my favorite characters are Snape and Draco. So... Jacob. What can I really say about him? He loved his grandfather, which is something I can admire. And he proved to be a noble character, considering the choices that he ultimately made. (Spoiler: Potentially never seeing his family again or dying is much more serious consequences then being a "drug store lord" as he was complaining about in the beginning. The point being that when it ultimately matters, he does not run away.)

The children at the Home had lots of interesting powers, but for the most part they were either defined by them or by a generally singular trait or "type". Milard was invisible but smart (I'll give him credit for being brave eventually, though), Emma, who used fire, had a fiery temper to match; Wyn was strong but not very smart. Horace could see the future but was (fashionably and in his mannerisms) stuck in the past and Enoch could raise the dead but, in large part, seemed to be devoid of a conscience (which I suppose might be helpful, considering. He's not totally "evil"... he just sees things differently.)

Jacob and Emma:

I'm not going to call this "The Romance", because to me it was actually the creepiest thing in the entire book. I don't know how Riggs managed to make me feel so weirded out by what happened between these two, but he definitely did. I've seen thousand year old vampires end up with twenty-somethings and not blinked over it. Maybe it was the fact that she was previously with his grandpa? I'm not sure. All I know is that I found it awkward and weird and I did not want them together. Which is highly unusual. 

In General: 

The pacing was very uneven here. A slow beginning and drawn out middle are paired with a rather exciting conclusion that will leave the reader wondering what will happen next. I didn't "hate" this book, but reading it felt like walking through one of the bogs that Riggs describes -- I wasn't sure how I was going to reach the other side. 

If you are curious about this book, go ahead and check it out. The images are neat and the story does get interesting. Just be prepared to ride it out until that happens. Depending on what you want from your books, your mileage may vary. Unfortunately, this just wasn't for me. 


  1. Great review! I had similar thoughts on this book. I expected much more.

    Xpresso Reads

  2. I thought this was a very original read. It started very slowly for me as well. It wasn't until the middle-end that it picked up for me.

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