December 2nd, 2014

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

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

After the death of his grandfather, sixteen-year-old Jacob is devastated. He convinces his parents to let him travel to the remote island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather lived after he was orphaned as a child. Jacob hopes it will bring him closure, but he’s also haunted by stories his grandfather told him about his childhood, tales of children with special powers and sinister monsters. At the center of all the mysteries is Miss Peregrine, and Jacob is determined to track her down so that he can understand his grandfather’s fate.

The conceit of this book is interesting: take a collection of vintage found photographs and craft a story around them. It works really well. Scattered throughout the novel are reproductions of the images, so as Jacob’s grandfather describes his childhood friends and shows his grandson pictures of them, the reader sees them too. Riggs claims that for the most part, his creepy photos of children haven’t been altered (beyond whatever the original photographers might have done) and appear just as he discovered them.

The pacing of the story is really, really slow. The beginning is downright sluggish, even when events should make it exciting. Eventually, the book finds its momentum, but at that point the reader has had to slog through two-thirds of the story. I almost quit several times, but I’d heard a lot of praise for this book and its sequel, Hollow City, so I kept hoping things would pick up. Nope. Not even magic and time travel could bring energy to the narrative.

Jacob is an interesting teenager. His manner of dealing with grief and loss is very realistic, and the book is his coming of age story. His growth as a character is worth watching. Sadly, he’s the only character fleshed out enough to have something like a personality. Most of the ‘peculiar’ children that he meets at Miss Peregrine’s orphanage are flat, cardboard cutouts with no nuance or depth to their personalities. The most intriguing character, Jacob’s grandfather, is killed off in the first chapter, but the dribbles of information we’re fed about his life make me want to read a book that’s all about him.

There’s some lovely writing describing the beauty of the island and some very atmospheric moments in the orphanage. I’m happy to praise the book for that. But in the end, it just couldn’t hold my interest for long.

2.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the in:
2013: Take a Shot! by Dave Steinfeld and Jake Morrow
2012: Egyptology (Ologies #2) by Dugard Steer and Emily Sands
2011: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
2010: The Candidates (Delcroix Academy #1) by Inara Scott
2009: Going on hiatus...
2008: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland