Saturday, March 17, 2012

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children

Man, was this disappointing! For at least a year now I've seen this book at bookstores and libraries, and the pictures (both on the cover and inside) were so strange and interesting, I assumed it had to be a great book. I was shocked when I heard it was YA (just because it looks so creepy), but that only lowered my expectations a tiny bit. After all, lots of YA books are read and adored by adults. But now that I've finally read it, I can tell you it's really meant for kids. Don't be deceived by the creepiness of those little clown boys on the back. It's meant for kids. 11-13-year-olds. And maybe I would have liked it if I were 11. I can't be sure. I can only tell you that as an adult, I didn't.

It started off okay. Jacob's grandfather has always told him strange stories about the house he lived in as a child when he was escaping the Holocaust. "Peculiar children" lived there- children with incredible talents like floating (the girl on the cover), creating fire out of thin air, lifting very heavy things, etc- as well as horrible monsters. Jacob once believed in the children and the monsters, but his belief fades. After his grandfather dies, Jacob sets off to find the house and learn the truth.

The whole story is pieced together with the strange photographs. They're real and very intriguing, but the author doesn't do a great job fitting them into the story. He has to introduce every one with these awkward intros ("I remember this one photograph of my dad on Halloween . . . ") that never flow as they should. And some of the pictures just don't fit. Like there are multiple photos of the character Emma but she is obviously not the same person in all the photographs. (view spoiler)

After the okay intro, the plot slips downhill quickly. Too much time is spent with Jacob just wandering around and nothing happening. When the big surprise comes, it's nice but nothing amazing. Plus, there were a number of unexplained details. (view spoiler) The climax feels like a kid's action/adventure book and the ending didn't seem completely resolved to me.

The author had an intriguing idea to use the photographs in a novel. He just didn't do a good job of it.

TITLE: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
VERDICT: 2/5 stars.

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