Cannonball Read IV #36
Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children is one of those quirky, much-discussed books that I went back and forth on for a while. Lo and behold, the public library came to my rescue and provided me with an ebook to check out so I could read it. Overall, I really enjoyed Riggs’ debut novel for young adults.
Miss Peregrine starts with our protagonist, 16-year-old Jacob, going to England to investigate some weird happenings after his grandfather is murdered. Right away, he meets pretty Emma, who takes him back to her home – the aforementioned home for peculiar children, and yes, each child has his or her own special peculiararities. The home is in a time loop, and so the children live each day over and over again. Jacob himself is peculiar, being the only one who can see the mysterious creatures that killed his grandfather, and it’s up to this group of people to stop the “hollowgasts” from doing more harm.
The strength of Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children is its fun, unusual characters who just seem to work well together. They’re all kind of off their respective rockers, and that weirdness meshes well with the suspense/thrill part of the novel. It kind of like Ground Hogs Day meets X-Men lite and getting to know the characters is fun. Also, despite the criticism I have with the plot (see below for my discussion of this), I really did enjoy looking at the pictures themselves. They were spooky in just the right way and helped me visualize the setting pretty clearly.
One of the weaknesses of the book is that its story/plot relies too heavily on the pictures to drive it. This makes sense, given that Riggs wanted to have a children’s picture book with weird and slightly creepy pictures, but was encouraged by an editor to create a story to surround those pictures. It’s like musicals based on artists’ songs – it isn’t natural and if anything only proves a point that it shouldn’t be done. It’s very contrived and that clearly came across as I was reading. I was also bummed that the ending was verrrrrrrrrry open to a sequel being written. Is it so hard for young adult authors to just write one book that doesn’t require a follow up? Tell your dang story and then write a new book on a different topic instead of trying to hook people with the first book of a series and make your profits off of stringing them along.
And end scene to my rant.
But I generally thought this was a fun, slightly creepy story. I would have LOVED this in high school when I really enjoyed freaking myself out with weird pictures and stories before I went to bed. Great for middle school ages, too.
(Ohhh, just read that the movie has been optioned and Tim Burton is directing it. Of course he is. I probably won’t see it at any rate, as I’m not a fan at all of what Tim Burton does to movies. I mean, he totally freakified Willy Wonka and company, and it was all downhill from there. But that’s a different post and blog entirely.)