Blurb: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
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.
I’d seen Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Tiggs around but wasn’t intrigued enough to go out of my way to read it. But someone from work had read it, loved it and happily plopped their copy on my desk with an enthusiastic, “you have to read it and let me know what you think!” So I did. And I have mixed thoughts about it.
Mostly – it’s a very odd book. If I liked it more, I’d joke that it was peculiar. 😉 The idea of peculiar children (think X-Men mutants but weirder) hiding the way they are was unique. And the reason they are hiding from the bad guys was different. The book started off interesting, then got very draggy, and then got very interesting again. I was mildly hooked by the excitement at the end and was debating reading the next in the series. But the more time that passes, the more I feel this book was mediocre and really not worth the attention it is getting. The story was missing something critical. And I think that “something” is mainly because the book, and entire series, is based on the gimmick of the photos.
See, it’s very obvious that Riggs loves collecting old, odd photographs. And it’s equally obvious most of the book was written around and to include said photographs. I read the first part of the book quite happily – it was a little creepy but intriguing and I was curious to learn more. And then the photos started showing up, wedged in as part of his grandfather’s journal. And I hated them. Everything was already visualized in my head and, honestly, I was picturing everyone more anime-style than anything so the photos yanked me out of the world. And there were so many elements in the story that felt included merely to show a photo. It was heavy-handed and left me with a bad taste. I very quickly got to the point where I would skip the photos but that didn’t fix the problem of the story pausing while Jacob would browse through or reminisce on journals and photo albums.
I also thought many of the characters were one-dimensional and the romance was not only fast but a little icky. And, unfortunately, the entire book ends up being a very long set-up with not really much happening until the very end where it ends on a cliff-hanger. Honestly, I think the book could be pared down to a few chapters – it’s really only the beginning of the story and almost nothing happens to actually move the story along. (It’d be like reading The Fellowship of the Ring only the book ends with the hobbits in Bree and you’ve spent 300 pages getting there.)
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