Tuesday, November 5, 2013
"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is one of the most charmingly quirky books I've read in quite some time.
With unbridled imagination and deft world-building reminiscent of Andrew Peterson's fantastical books (a must-read if you love fantasy), this tale also fulfilled my number-one need in a reading experience: the motivation to keep turning pages because I couldn't wait to see what happened next.
It's about Jacob Portman, a 16-year-old self-described bored rich kid from Florida, whose grandfather raised him on unbelievable tales of bloodthirsty monsters and children with unusual abilities who live in an idyllic haven on an island in Wales.
Jacob had long since stopped believing his grandfather's stories, despite the fact that he had the photographs to "prove" them. Photographs that Jacob could see were often doctored, and not even that skillfully.
And because Jacob's grandfather was a Jewish man whose family was killed in the holocaust, and who joined the army to fight the Nazis, it was easy to decide the monsters in his grandfather's tales were simply an allegory for the real-life monsters he had fought.
It isn't until Abraham Portman's death that Jacob begins to believe all the stories might have been real. And prompted by his grandfather's last words, Jacob embarks on a trip to the Welsh island, determined to learn the truth.
Criticisms of the book
Because I enjoyed this book so much, I was really surprised to see the number of one- and two-star ratings it got on Goodreads.
Most of the criticism seems to be that the cover of the book was misleading. Readers thought they were in for a chillingly creepy horrorfest, and were disappointed to find that it's a young-adult fantasy novel in which the only creepy things are the actual photographs that pepper the book.
Having read some things about the book, I wasn't expecting a bone-chilling tale, and I actually liked the story's air of fresh, sweet innocence. Don't get me wrong...there's danger, bloodshed and mild scariness, but nothing along the lines of Stephen King or Dean Koontz.
About those photographs
The vintage photographs are quite real, and author Ransom Riggs admits he built the story around them. To me, they lend a quirky charm, despite the fact that some of them are rather weird and creepy. They all came from the hands of collectors of such pictures. One can't help but wonder about the circumstances in which some of them were taken.
A sequel is coming--yes, the book pretty much ends on a cliffhanger--and Riggs promises that more such photographs will be featured.
Overall, I truly enjoyed reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," and I look forward to finding out what happens in their further adventures.