Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine Series, by Ransom Riggs
1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 02/07/2012, * * * * *

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."

My Thoughts:
So, as I'm sure you noticed, I gave this book five stars.  The short version is that I gave this book 5 stars because it's a really good book.  However that by itself is not the whole story.

You see, the blurb is misleading.  The book that the blurb is talking about might be an interesting book, but as you begin reading Miss Peregrine you soon realize that the story you are reading isn't the same one the blurb is describing.  Oh, it's close.  It's sorta right.  But just for example, when Jacob finally gets to the island, you quickly realize that the island isn't deserted.  In fact there's a whole village of people living there.  Also, while the orphanage can technically be described as abandoned (really it was more like, destroyed), the Peculiar Children who lived there weren't quarantined.  So the blurb sets up certain expectations that the story itself really doesn't quite live up to.  And I notice that a lot of people use this as a reason to hate on the book itself and give it bad reviews.

However, if you ignore the blurb, it's really kind of a brilliant story.  Jacob is a likeable character, and is easy to identify with.  Having listened to his grandfather's monster tales all his life, Jacob begins to realize as he grows older that his beloved relative may be more than a little bit crazy.  But he soon realizes that it's possible grandpa wasn't as crazy as the rest of the family believes, and when Jacob finds a collection of disturbingly odd photos together with an old letter he decides that it's time for him to find out for himself the truth of his grandfather's past.  Which leads him to the decidedly odd and creepy but definitely NOT deserted island off the coast of Wales and the aforementioned destroyed orphanage.

But the mystery doesn't end there, and the story gets ever more weird and creepy as it continues.  With the liberal use of the haunting and eery photos that Jacob discovered, the novel creates a delightfully twisted story of a young man searching for the truth of his family history and his desperate attempt to prove that he is not insane.  It's a highly enjoyable read, and while the pacing does drag a little bit in several places, the ending was worth it in my opinion.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below!


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