I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was” –Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Initial Thoughts: When this book was first released in 2011, the cover image of the miserable looking girl apparently floating in midair was featured everywhere. Critics couldn’t stop raving about this book. And so, sometime in 2011 to 2012, I had checked it out at the library. The title Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reminded me a lot of the television show I used to watch when I was a kid Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Anyway, upon reading the first ten pages, I gave up and I ended up returning the book a few days later. Recently, I decided to give this book another chance after watching the movie adaptation.
Ever since he was a little boy, Jacob has been told fantastical stories by his grandfather about a mysterious island off the coast of England inhabited by strange children with peculiar gifts. When Jacob’s grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances, Jacob decides to investigate by venturing to the mysterious island.
As I have said earlier, there was a lot of hype surrounding this book when it was first published. It was featured on Goodreads, Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. etc. Upon reading the first ten pages, in 2011-2012, my first reaction was: “this Jacob is a brat!” Just because Jacob hates working at a grocery store, he decides to do whatever it takes to get himself fired. Meanwhile, he mopes around feeling sorry for himself and ignores everyone else’s feelings. As the book is told in first person, I figured that I didn’t want to spend anymore time in his obnoxious self-entitled mind. And so, I returned the book without giving it a chance.
A few years later, I ended up watching the movie and I decided to give the book another shot. As the book went on, Jacob was a lot less annoying, but the narrative voice given to him seemed unconvincing. Unfortunately, none of the characters that Jacob encounters in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children are given a lot of depth. Even Emma or Miss Peregrine, the novel’s secondary central characters, seemed to be very unreachable to me.
The winning feature of this novel is its plotline and use of photographs to tell the story. Ransom Riggs is certainly an imaginative author, and as a whole, the story is well-written. When I finished the book, I ended up reading an interview with Ransom Riggs. Apparently, he collected old vintage photographs to use in his book. I initially had believed that he had taken the photographs himself and then placed it in the book for a more visual effect. After realizing that the structure of the book was influenced by the vintage photographs that he took, my opinion on the book has slightly changed. The use of two different mediums to tell a story, photography and writing creates for an interesting combination in the storyline. In spite of the lack of character depth, I would consider reading the other two books in the franchise (Hollow City, and Library of Souls) just to see what other vintage photographs Ransom Riggs has included in his books.
As I had watched the movie before I had finished the book, I was taken aback by the way the movie had ended. [Don’t worry, I won’t add any spoilers]. The movie ended with very little resolution, and so I expected the book to end in a similar way. The last chapter of the book was absolutely perfect to be translated into film, I honestly do not know what the filmmakers were thinking! Another thing which elevated my confusion when I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, was how the movie switched Emma and Olive’s abilities. I ended up getting them confused for a little while. So, if you have not seen the movie yet, I would read the book before seeing the movie because there are a lot of key differences in the plotline.
Even though this isn’t the most spectacular young adult novel I have ever read, for the blending of photography and prose, it is worth a read if you have the time. It is also full of action sequences and creepy monsters. I would recommend this book to those who have an interest in old photography, and those who have a desire to embark on an adventure embedded within.
Final rating: C+
About the Book Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Author: Ransom Riggs Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Book #0.5 Tales of the Peculiar, Book #1: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Book #2 Hollow City, Book #3 Library of Souls) Year Published: 2011 Pages: 352 Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Photography
Until next time,