Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is first book by Ransom Riggs and is also first book in Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. It was published already in 2011, second book came out in 2014 and the third – only this year. The series are fresh and as literature now is kind of more or less in a dystopian era, this is something different, as it looks back in time, not forward. It is set both in 1940 and modern days and is mostly know for use of weird pictures in the book as illustrations. Before I dig in, I just want to point out that most of the pictures are real and collected by people who are looking for peculiar pictures, some have undergone minor editing though.
Jacob has lived with grandfathers stories about special abilities and weird monsters for years, until one day in school kids start to call him names, because he was repeating those stories. He tells grandfather Abe that he doesn’t believe it anymore and keeps to his statement, although it brakes his heart as Abe is Jacob’s favourite person on the planet. Everything change’s though when teenager Jacob follows his grandfather in the woods and starts to doubt, if the stories Abe told were really just fairy tales… could they be real? Where the monsters – German soldiers or was it something else lurking in the darkness unnoticed? Jacob decides to find the truth and visit a school Abe attended when he was just a boy, because that’s where all the stories always start.
This book has a lot of pictures in it and I really liked them, I am actually happy to find out that there are pictures like that and that some people collect them. It gives me an interest and will to remember to go through some, when I am in charity or thrift store in order to perhaps find some and guess the story behind it. I enjoyed the pictures in the book a lot, but I don’t particularly think that they are much connected to the story. I understand that it was author’s inspiration and those pictures were the ones that put the story together in his mind and he felt like it is important to add them, as well as to honor the people who collect the pictures, but as sometimes we get only one sentence about a picture and the character is never mentioned again, it seems a bit like a trick to get people buy the book perhaps just to see the pictures. So yes, I am glad that I could see them, but I don’t think that all of them were necessary in the book.
I didn’t have hopes really for this book, I just expected to like it and when I started this novel, my hopes went up, because the beginning was exciting and filled with action. And adventure or new piece of information expected me after every corner. I was really into the book and although I was frightened and really scared, it was a page turner, until a moment the action stopped, it just got slow, boring and a bit ordinary. Perhaps the author went out and told me all his secrets too soon, because not much of the things that happened after Jacob got to the school and saw it as Abe had seen it, interested me. I didn’t appreciate the cliche romance thing that happened there and everything just became so normal that I was simply disappointed.
None of the characters were of my liking and I didn’t connect to any of them. I didn’t much like Jacob, for his “we can afford plane tickets just like some time ago – train tickets” (– no we can’t! Or did he forget that he comes from a rich family?) and other things he said or thought! His character was just so plain and empty, that I couldn’t relate at all. And besides – for the whole first chapter I though that he is a girl. Yes, that’s right, it wasn’t mentioned that the protagonist is a male until we hear his name later.
The peculiar children – well, we don’t get to know many of them, I guess I liked Bronwyn, because she seemed not to contradict herself or not be just a bunch of weird actions without real explanation (like Enoch for example). I understand that there are lines to read between and emotions hidden in the book, but honestly, if the author had time to put in a day (and night) of swimming, he could have put in a few more characteristics of the children he had created.
I had a hard time understanding, how could there be correspondence between Abe and the school. I would be glad, if someone could explain that to me. Did Miss Peregrine hold a mailbox in the present school and went to check it every day? Did she bother to go to the present town to get stamps for letters Emma would send? It was never explained, though it interests me as in this type of “jumping in time” it feels like it is important.
I had trouble understanding the wights and hollows. I felt the back story on them was rushed and their abilities and life still unclear to me, which could be a reason why I didn’t much care about all the things they did in order to fulfill their plan.
As I said before – I really liked the beginning and was excited and frightened, but I loved it. Unfortunately it didn’t keep up with the awesomeness and I didn’t much care about the book by the end of it. And for the exciting start and dull ending, it received two stars out of five on my goodreads page.
I would not recommend this book for children as well as for neurotic people (as myself), they are going to have nightmares and be scared of everything, not to mention violence and descriptions of some bloody scenes. I guess this is for new adults or adults that are interested in special powers and peculiarities, but not really for those into superheroes or X-men. I think it might be much for young adults though, but I am myself very interested in the graphic novel, though – this book clearly is made to be very visual and I want more of that visual, hoping that now the pictures would make more sense (as in why they were put in the book), when some of the characters are going to be drawn all the time. And I wouldn’t mind getting a picture book with these kind of photographs.
Have you read this book? Did you love it? Were you scared? Are the rest of the series better or worse? Which was your favourite character and most importantly – how do the letters travel?