Monday, 14 May 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A VERY special thanks to Fernando from "Working for the Mandroid" for guest reviewing for us! 

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Good fairy tales take time to build. Good fairy tales are passed down generation to generation. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children builds a world, characters, plot and, best of all, provides pictures. This twisted Alice in Wonderland starts off with a murder. A peculiar murder that plays with the mind of our 16-year-old protagonist, Jacob Portman. Jacob witnesses the last bizarre moments of the life of his beloved grandfather, Abe Portman. 
This relationship coupled with the odd circumstances of his death serve as the foundation for Jacob's quest for truth. Abe loved to tell stories of a childhood that he spent with orphans with peculiar abilities. Abe's death haunts Jocab to the point of paranoia, leading him to the care of a psychiatrist who recommends Jacob face his grandfather's past as a method for coping with the loss.
Now Jacob is forced to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, and the opportunity for him to peel back the curtain on the fantastical stories Abe would tell. Often books that play with this type of wonder bring the "truth" of reality crashing down on the protagonist. Instead of that this book accepts its peculiar nature and uses it to showcase its characters as well as provide insight into who Jacob really is. 
The book is peppered with fantastic pictures to aid the reader in understanding the peculiar nature of the children Jacob is meeting. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children also creates a locale that is perfect for a boy dealing with self discovery: an island with limitless possibilities.  The story speeds along with great imagery both literary and photographic. As Jacob faces his grandfather's past and begins to discover a new purpose, he also builds the self confidence of a young hero. All along the way we are treated to the amazing abilities of the peculiar children. 
The plot of this book starts off as a quest for the truth then transforms the plot into an action adventure. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children straddles that line very well. It does not ditch the mystery, it simply chages its focus and adds an antagonist. The antagonist is where most of the book club decided the weak point was. When the plot switches gears, the villain's motives are evil but oddly veiled in flimsy hierarchy that begs for clarity.   
My decision not to spoil specifics in the book is really in the hopes that you will go enjoy it all on your own. The book tackles the familiar literary tropes of love, friendship, feeling like an outcast in adolescence and mixes in the oddities of Miss Peregrine's peculiar children.
The biggest complaint that we had in reading this book was the incomplete ending. The book very clearly leaves the reader wanting to continue on Jacob's journey. It however, closes on a mediocre half ending; many plot points are closed and clearly addressed; however, a larger quest is about to begin. I think that is a strength, it leaves the reader wanting to join in on the new adventure, so be forewarned - it may leave you wanting to read on past the last chapter.

1 comment:

Hey Lady! said...

I wish I had read this book. It seemed so cool. Thanks so much Fernando for being awesome and for writing the review!