Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Recently I got an email from Quirk's Social Media and Marketing Manager
asking if I'd be willing to review the newly released paperback copy of

 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Amazon Synopsis:
Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age. 

The story follows Jacob, a young American boy, on his journey to not only find out more about his Grandpa, but more importantly, his own sanity. As it turns out, the two go hand-in-hand.

Middle Grade or Young Adult?
Based on the way the action paces itself, and how long children linger on terrible events, I'd actually classify this as more of a bridge book between Middle Grade and Young Adult, rather than a flat out YA novel. In other words, I think this book would appeal to both younger and older children... and I think it would be an excellent "read aloud" bedtime story book. (Er... for the children who aren't easily scared.... because while this book isn't a horror story, there is some very creepy imagery going on in it)

The storyline is adventurous, mysterious and fraught with perils, not to mention laced with history.
I always appreciate a book that can tie in real world history in a way that makes children more curious about the past... and if listening to Grandpa's stories, or the scene with Adam and the bomb doesn't do that, then I would think the Bog Boy at least would spark children's interest and imagination. Plus, the series promises to deliver quite a lot more in terms of historical referencing with the upcoming sequel.

The love story:
There are several love stories that unravel through the book, which for me was the more "YA" aspect of this story... but even though Jacob's own love story happened rather quickly, I found it entirely believable. For once, there was a YA love story with a good, solid reason as to why the girl would fall in love so quickly. All too often I read YA novels where the characters seemingly hate each other, and then three sentences later, they're in love. In Rigg's book, Jacob's "love" story is, as one would expect from a teenage boy, really something that began more with lust (as in, he thought she was really hot... and then all the "Oh, and she's pretty cool too" stuff came later). Maybe that is because this novel is written by a man, who actually had the benefit of experiencing life as a teenaged boy? I don't know, I just know when I read YA love stories, more often than not, I'm very aware that the teenaged boy in the story is acting NOT like an ACTUAL teenaged boy, but like a sappy, boring page from some starry-eyed teenaged girl's fantasy.

The Magic:
This book is fantasy fiction... and it uses the fantasy aspects to propel the story in compelling ways. Often times I read YA novels that have fantastical aspects and feel like I've read the same story I've read a million times over, except this time it was a Mermaid instead of a Vampire. The "Fantasy" is just a gimmick to draw kids in, but could easily be replaced with a million other things.
In Riggs' book, I felt that the fantasy was an integral part of the storyline. It wasn't thrown in casually, it was the mechanism that made this story run. Riggs was able to take moments in history and make them even more real to the reader by not only giving us characters who had been there and lived through it, but by using the magic in this world to allow the main character to experience it as well. The same magic will also allow the main character to delve into the past even farther, and that's something that I'm rather excited about.

The Villains:
I'm not going to say too much, that would be a bit of a spoiler... but I will say I really loved the villains of this story. Their whole reason behind doing what they do is perfect, and reflects a kind of child-like mentality.

The Writing:
I really enjoyed Ransom Riggs writing style. It's fast paced, with page after page of action to pull the reader along. He also does a great job of creating an eerie atmosphere. The book reminded me of one of the haunting stories from A.S. Byatt's Little Black Book of Stories... the forest is filled with monsters, BEWARE!

READ THIS BOOK! Read this book aloud to children!!! Everything about this story was a pleasant surprise, and I can't wait to read the next one.


  1. I am soooo intrigued by this book (and just heard that Tim Burton is going to direct the movie!). You gave a great review!! I hope I can get my hands on this one soon.

    1. Oooh, that should be exciting... I think Tim Burton's style would fit well, I just hope he does ok with the storyline. XD

  2. I loved this book... though I wish it was a stand alone book. Hoping the sequel that comes out in 2014 is just as good!

    1. I have to agree, I was a bit shocked to see it was more than one book. I really think it could have been wrapped up in one book.
      This comment put me in mind of Summer & Bird by Katherine Catmull, and how an author can really fit a lot of story into one book.

  3. So glad to hear you enjoyed this one! It's definitely a recent favorite of mine, too. I agree with everything you mentioned, especially about the history, it was all so beautifully blended in! Can't wait for Hollow City...and it's been officially announced that the movie comes out July 2015! I can't wait to see this book brought to life (though I've also got fingers crossed that the movie-makers get it right!).

  4. This is a really good review, and you've made me feel I must get this book. :)

    Ann@Blogging E-books