Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Book 1)
Author: Ransom Riggs
Kid Friendly Rating: 14+ Lots of spooky monsters and some adult subjects that may be just a little bit inappropriate for younger children. Click here for the Common Sense Media Guide!
When Jacob Portman was a small child, his grandfather often regaled him with tales of the orphanage that “saved his life” during World War II. Abraham Portman’s stories were colorful, to say the least. They were populated by amazing children with special talents, like a girl who could float like a balloon on a string, and a boy who was so strong that he could toss a boulder as easily as a basketball. Jacob listened with awe to his grandfather’s stories as a young boy, but with the passing of time came a growing cynicism. Eventually, Jacob dismissed the stories as mere fairy tales, and they fell into the dark recesses of his mind, alongside Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
At the age of 16, a gruesome discovery at Jacob’s grandfather’s home shakes Jacob to the very core, and he is forced to challenge his beliefs regarding reality and fantasy. The discovery sets Jacob off on a mission to investigate the site of his grandfather’s former orphanage. He soon realizes that his grandfather’s stories were far more literal than he ever expected.
Well, here I am at 30 years old and reading yet another Young Adult novel. You know what? It’s fine. 30 is still pretty young for an adult. I don’t feel like an adult. Why should I read like one all the time?
A Young Adult novel is comforting. Themes and conflicts are simple and easy to understand. You rarely need to check the dictionary when you read the sentences. It’s nice. If that’s what you want, Miss Peregrine is probably for you.
If it sounds like I’m qualifying my praise, it’s because I am. For me, there was just something missing in this book. I’m not quite sure I can put my finger on it, but I’m briefly going to try.
Perhaps the main thing is the ending. I’m not going to heavily divulge spoilers here, but suffice to say that it is unsatisfying. I have nothing against cliffhanger endings. Love them, in fact. There is nothing that makes me want to keep reading more than a final couple chapters that blister my fingers as I read them only to have the rug pulled out from under me. It’s exhilarating.
But when the book builds slowly but surely, and then, just, meh… Oh my god, is that disappointing or what? It’s criminal. I feel victimized!
I get that Riggs was setting up for a series of books, and he has since continued the story, but this particular book peters out in such an unsatisfying way that I really have no desire to find out what happens. There is no culminating moment to make me feel, “Okay, I’m really glad I read this.” It’s not that the stakes are low. The world is basically at stake (isn’t it always?), but there is something missing.
That being said, I place this book firmly above what I experienced in Veronica Roth’s Divergent universe. The romance in particular, which is still light and somewhat juvenile, is a bit more nuanced. Oh, who am I kidding? Hey guys, this book is not another shameless ripoff of Hunger Games (which is itself an amalgamation of other work)!
So it’s better! But honestly, if you’re treading around in this genre and you haven’t read The Giver, just go do that, OK? That’s the one you need.
Let’s see here… some other positives. The world Riggs builds is really a pretty original and interesting one. We get into a bit of light time travel, which is always good for some fish-out-of-water fun, by way of Marty McFly.
Riggs does a great job with descriptive passages. You can really feel the claustrophobically secluded atmosphere and the damp countryside soaking your bones. Given the disparate settings within the book, the story seems to take on different ambient temperatures throughout.
Overall, I thought this was a fine diversion. While I’m not sold on reading the sequels as of yet, I think Riggs has created an interesting mythology and cast of characters, and it is an easy read. I give it 3/5 stars.
Have you read this book? Let us know what you think!
MIss Peregrine is currently scheduled to hit theaters on September 30, 2016. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, and Samuel L. Jackson. So, read the book now so you can watch it come to life this fall!