Monday, May 26, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I was initially drawn to this book by both its cover and title. I hoped for something creepy and mysterious, which is what this book turned out to be. The inclusion of the old photographs was brilliant, adding a very important mood to the story. It was a very fun adventure, best read on a grey, rainy day or at night.

The main character, Jacob, was a pretty average teenage boy, living in Florida with his semi-rich parents and the strange stories his grandfather has told him all his life. But with the mysterious death of his grandfather, he goes on an adventure to discover that the stories might have been true after all. Accompanied by actual vintage photograph, the story is one with a very strong mood and striking plot.

Jacob’s character was nothing spectacular. He bothered me toward the beginning, being somewhat spoiled and dull. Even throughout the book, as he grew ever so slightly, his personality remained unembellished and rather passive. While that didn’t help me at liking his character, it did make room for the story to grow. Had his personality been too strong, it would have overpowered the story. While his personality was tolerable, one thing I would have changed about him was his age. Throughout the story, I imagined him being a few years younger, 14 perhaps. For going on such an adventure, a slightly younger age seemed appropriate. Nonetheless, his narration told the story really well.

I did not like his parents much, although his dad was at least portrayed as a real person, with faults and such. The children at the school were great. Each had distinct personalities, but they worked great together, which was fun reading about. I thought the relationship between Emma and Jacob was a bit fast and shallow, but I suppose it was portrayed that way on purpose, and I can’t wait to see how it grows in the next book.

Along with the exciting plot, the setting was one of my favorite things about this book. The image of the tiny island and seaside town was so strong. The weather matched perfectly with it, which is why I enjoyed reading this book especially on rainy days. The different times were also explained nicely, making it seem real, and almost normal for Jacob to be going back and forth between the loop. The idea of the loops themselves seemed quite realistic, emphasized through the setting of the island. I also really liked the dialogue of the children, and even of the people of the island in the present day.

The photographs within the book also made it so much more interesting and engaging. I really appreciated how they helped sculpt the story, and the characters. Also, upon reading the third to last page in the book, it is explained that the photographs are in fact real, several with slight alterations, collected by people who search for them and save them in personal archives. I’ve once heard of people doing this, and I find it so inspiring, like collecting memories and histories of people we’ll never know. And the idea of using them in this story is absolutely stunning. Like giving life to something that would otherwise be overlooked.

This story was a great adventure, with a perfect setting and interesting backstory. While the main character lacked depth, the other characters made up for it. The ending was also perfect, a great cliffhanger that makes me excited to read the next book, but also a bit of closure, involving Jacob’s dad. The story was just a bit creepy, with some history thrown in, and a strong mood that emanates from both the story itself and the actual book. I am pumped to see where this story goes, and what adventure the children go on next.

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