I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children under the duress of my thirteen year old sister. She’s the one that got me hooked on the Hunger Games Trilogy (so she has obviously inherited my good taste in books!) The cover was what initially drew me to it–a creepy black and white photo of an antique little girl hovering in mid-air. That’s got to be interesting, right?
The story revolves around our teenage protagonist, Jacob. After witnessing the horrific death of his beloved Grandpa Portman, he sets off on an adventure unlike any other. His quest starts after he helps his father clean out his grandpa’s house–only to discover a box of antique photographs of unusual children. These are the very same photos Grandpa Portman used to share with him as a child, regaling him with stories of these strange children and their magical abilities. He claimed to have grown up with them on an island-bound orphanage run by a bird who smoked a pipe. Of course, as Jacob grew older these tales became harder to believe, and all the pictures began to look photo-shopped. During the horrific encounter that lead to Grandpa Portman’s death, Jacob thought he glimpsed a monster hiding in the woods. This led him to consider the fact that maybe his grandpa’s tales weren’t so tall after all. After undergoing psychiatric counseling, it is determined that Jacob must go visit this alleged island and see for himself that these stories were fake. Thus begins his discovery of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…
This story was a great teen novel, one of the best I’ve read recently. I have loved urban fantasy (a fantasy that’s set in the modern, everyday world) since getting into Holly Black’s writing several years ago. It contains all of the qualities an UF story needs to make it great: another, more magical world, a cast of wacky characters, extraordinary powers, time travel, insurmountable monsters, and just a touch of confusing, teen-angsty romance. *sigh* Loved it.
Ransom Riggs came up with a really unique twist on time travel, as well. Rather than jumping in the Dolorian to go back to a time period (or some other over-played method) he created time “loops.” These loops are repeating circles of time that are created to keep the Peculiars safe. These loops repeat the same day over and over again, in this case, September 3rd, 1940–the day the Germans bombed Wales. Each night the bombs fall, but the loop resets before they hit, and in this way these peculiar children have stayed children for over 80 years. They have also remained safe in this hidden time loop from the Wights–creatures whom are looking to use them to gain immortality.
I really enjoyed the awkward feelings between Jacob and Emma, and the overall image of all these unique people living together in one big Victorian manor. Very cool. I also liked that these children’s talents were very unique, rather than X-men cliche. The way that Riggs used actual antique photographs to build his characters/plot around was a very interesting and enjoyable change from normal teen fiction. Pioneering in story-telling, I love it! There was a bit of lag in the story in the first 1/4 of the book, but not enough to dissuade me from wanting to find out what happened next. There’s a definite set up for a sequel, which I am very much looking forward to.
Good job, Mr. Riggs.
(See? Floridians are special!)
5 of 5 stars