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

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs How did I get it: The library.

Why did I read it: I have been putting off reading this book for awhile and I figured it was about time I got around to reading it.

How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars.

Summary:

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.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has an amazing opening and so many cool concepts. The first half of the book where the concept behind the story were first being addressed as well as explored were fantastic. The writing was really great and Jacob was an endearing character. I loved the mystery of Jacob’s grandfather, Abe, and what he did with his life. I loved Jacob’s take on things and I think the issues he had stemming both from his grandfather and from the messed-up dynamics of his family added a lot to story. Obviously photographs added a bit as well. I just wish they had been more relevant instead of just there as a quirky visual aid.

Towards the middle of the book, the story seemed to lose a bit of its spark. Riggs’ imagination stayed as unique and I liked the powers assigned to each of the children, but the many of the intriguing aspects of the book’s creepy, quirky concepts diminished the more they were explained. It was certainly difficult for me to remain on the edge of my seat when I learned that the peculiar people were just off hiding somewhere living out the same day over and over again hardly anything with their time or their gifts. Meanwhile the bad guys were winning and taking over the real world because the peculiar people couldn’t bring themselves to do much of anything, which I guess is a way to explain why no one has noticed them but… It’s not particularly exciting direction for a book to head towards nor is it all that scary. 

I also haven’t seen any review mention this, but for those who are looking for a cute romantic subplot, you might want to avoid this book. I spent a lot of the later half of the book feeling ill once it became clear that Emma was taking a shining to Jacob because he looked like his grandfather who she has spent most of her life being madly in love with. I don’t mind weird things happening in fiction, but quite frankly the incestous vibe combined with the section where both Jacob and Emma acknowledge its existence made me incredibly uncomfortable. And already learning that Emma was really about 80 years old didn’t do much for me either.

Ultimately I think the only haunting aspect of the book is that while Abe realized that life has to be lived and can’t be spent hiding in some stale fantasy land, Jacob seems to be heading in the opposite direction. As a result, I was really dismayed by the book’s ending. I hope that the sequel will result in Jacob growing up a bit or realizing that you can’t just hide somewhere forever because its easier. Either way, I would rather have read more about Jacob’s grandfather than Jacob himself. 

In conclusion, good. I enjoyed Riggs’ writing style and I devoured Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in two sittings. All the same, I don’t think the story achieved its full potential or put a lot of its neat concepts to good enough use.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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3 Responses to Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

  1. Paul D. Dail says:

    Unfortunate. It did indeed sound like an intriguing story and an interesting concept with the artwork. Just sounds like it didn’t deliver (and yes, the thing about liking Jacob because he resembled his grandfather is a little strange). But as you said, maybe the sequel will do more with the story. Of course, if the first one doesn’t grab you…

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  2. Jessica G. says:

    I agree. It had so much potential but still, for a young adult book introducing new themes, this book faired well. I’ve definitely read worse. Like, sparkly vampires, worse. I think too many people thought the beginning of the book (the murder of Abe) was the model for the entire book. But it did seem a little too apart from the rest of the story. It wasn’t balanced.

    • Definitely. It’s a very enjoyable book and one that will work with a large range of readers, but it relied a bit too much on cool concepts. And I think that it sort of played it safe towards the second half of the book. I was expecting something a lot weirder.

      Here’s hoping the sequel does a better job of it. 🙂

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