Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

For years, Jacob believed his grandfather’s fantastical stories about an old refugee home during World War II, and how he spent his life fighting monsters. But as Jacob grew older he stopped believing. After a family crisis, he and his father set off for the Welsh island where the refugee home stands, in hopes of finding out more about Grandpa than he was willing to tell. There, however, Jacob learns that the “peculiar” children Grandpa spoke of may have been real…and may still be alive.

This is a very unique, fun novel, one that goes fast and keeps your attention to the very end. The author, Ransom Riggs, also a professional photographer, had people search for old photographs, and it is these photos that are peppered throughout the book and referenced in the text. Jacob is a believable teenage protagonist without verging into what I call “wangst” territory. Even very minor characters are well rounded and alive, and it feels very colorful despite most of the novel taking place on a rainy island in Wales. Riggs also does well in conveying the lilt of the Welsh accent without using annoying phonetic spelling for everything.

One of my few gripes is the atmosphere of the novel. At first it starts out quite creepy, and that feeling sticks…until halfway through, when suddenly it turns into a fantasy novel. Not that I mind the fantasy part of it, but the sudden change in atmosphere was a bit jarring. I got used to it after a while, though.

Others might have problems with the ending. It was a bit of a cliff hanger, and one particular part I felt was not concluded properly, especially if you think about the aftermath. However, overall I enjoyed the ending, bittersweet as it was.

This is a book that will appeal to nearly everyone, between the engaging story and the fascinating photos the author has used. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.

It also seems there will be a movie out next year. I expect special effects galore.

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