Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BOOK REPORT: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

I recently borrowed from the library (via ebook, no less) Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

It's a good and solid read, a little peculiar and a little haunting.

There's a number of books with similar themes.  A group of weird kids (often with special powers) get together to save the world.  It's a comic book trope, and it's now a teen fiction trope.  Think Percy Jackson.  Think X-men. Think Hunger Games. Think Spy Kids 1-4.  (Okay, the last one is a little too comic relief for this category.  But it's the same basic idea.)

Miss Peregrine's is very much like an X-men novel, with added Victorian melancholy and some haunting photographs.

One of the haunting photos from the book.
The book is set in today and in 1941.  In today, Jacob's grandfather, who survived world war II and is a bit of a survivalist odd duck,  has been telling Jacob since he was a boy insane fairy tales about an island he lived on, where there was a kid who had bees live in his mouth, and a girl who could defy gravity, and all other sorts of craziness.  Jacob, typical modern kid, thinks this is all nonsense.  His grandfather shows him photographic proof, but it just looks fake. (And the photographs are reproduced in the book, giving it a little bit of a Victorian/gothic flair)

But when his grandfather is killed mysteriously by wild animals, Jacob is drawn to investigate.  And when he finds a curious letter from a Miss Peregrine on this same remote island, he manages to convince his dad (an ornithology buff with too much time on his hands) to take a vacation to the island.   And then Jacob meets one of the kids from the photos, who hasn't aged a day!  That's when the plot really takes off.

Here's a few other books/movies that you might be interested in.

Some more photos from the book.
 Riggs solves some of the time travel problems and mysterious creature problems in fun and creative ways, and there's some romance (even some kissing!) and lots of monster slaying action.  And his use of old photographs (and that haunting gothic feeling) was superb.

It's not Stephen King horror, but there's a mysterious feeling to it.

 I was not surprised at all to discover it's now a series, with 2 books and a third on the way, and a 2016 movie featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Allison Janney and directed by Tim Burton!  (Hello, Percy Jackson!)

Anyway, it's well worth reading, if you like this sort of thing. It's definitely suitable for adults.  If your kid is into this kind of stuff, I'd say age 12 is the right age, due to lots of violence, some complicated plot issues, and the aforementioned kissing.  Commonsense Media says 14.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I read this book several years ago and thought it was a fun tale. I especially liked the authors descriptions of the 'places' involved, like the island village, and the Miss Peregrine's house and property. The vintage photo's were a great touch! Nice review.