Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1) by Ransom Riggs

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1) by Ransom Riggs

Author: Ransom Riggs
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Quirk
Pages: 352
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Bought it

Book Description from Goodreads:
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. Fiction is based on real black and white photographs. The death of grandfather Abe sends 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, and explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways. The children may still live.


     Jacob grew up listening to his grandfather Abe's stories of fantastical and harrowing adventures, most stemming from the orphanage he grew up in - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. How peculiar exactly are these children? Just judging from the photos on the covers - things get really weird. 

     I had seen this book at the bookstore several times, and I was always creeped out by the photos and the premise doesn't give much away. It wasn't until I actually bought the book and really looked at it that I noticed the girl on the cover is levitating, it just made me all that more excited to find out what was going on.

     Our main character Jacob loved his grandfather Abe and his stories about the war, and the unique children he befriended at the orphanage he grew up in with their unusual abilities. But like any child, he got older and became increasingly skeptical about how real these stories could be. It's incredible how we rationalize everything, even when there's real physical photographic proof in front of us and Jacob is no different. But when his grandfather dies in a horrific accident, Jacob starts to question his sanity while plagued with nightmares and his grandfather's last request. Piecing the fragments of his grandfather's life together, Jacob ends up on a remote isle off the coast of Wales to search for answers - but he soon gets sucked into a world full of wonders and dangers he couldn't even begin to imagine.

     Grandfather Abe completely reminds me of Grandpa Abe from The Simpsons. He tells war stories, and each time the version changes a little bit and it gets wilder and couldn't possibly be true. Soon relatives start brushing him off and thinking he's not that mentally stable anymore. But boy are you in for a surprise when the truth about Abe's life is uncovered and how hard he tried to the very end to fend off the things that go bump in the night. 

     This book is definitely a work of art; from the eerie photos to the end papers, to the in between chapter papers and the handwritten letters - it's all gorgeous and makes this an enveloping and engaging read. Although I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the photos for more than a few seconds - it feels like their unblinking eyes are just boring into your soul, even after we get to know some of these peculiar children. 

     The story immediately draws you in with the photos, and Abe's unfortunate end, but then it lulls a bit as Jacob struggles to figure things out. But Riggs does an excellent job contrasting Jacob's life before and after these life altering events so that when he does find the orphanage he easily fits in and it just feels right that he's there. However, for me this is where the story shifted gears completely. It was no longer a creepy mystery and I just didn't feel as invested in the story as I did before. It turns into a superheroes unite to save the world kind of situation and while I still wanted to know what happens, the last half of the story ends up as a predictable set up for the sequel and left a lot of questions unanswered. 

Overall: 3/5 Drinkable Cups of Tea.
This story definitely has a unique and intriguing plot bolstered by old fashioned photos (and apparently they're all real?) and I generally enjoyed it. I had expected a lot of suspense and horror, but I never really got apprehensive at any point. It was like listening to your grandfather tell you a story and just watching it all unfold safely from a distance. 

I read this as a part of Just a Lil' Lost in a Great Book read-a-long, and you can find the wrap up post and links to other reviews HERE.

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