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Cannonball Read IV: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

By Krista | Book Reviews | October 2, 2012 | Comments ()


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Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's 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 Peregrine's 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 Groundhog 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, however, 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.)

For more of Krista's reviews, check out her blog, Overflowing Heart Reviews.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • marya

    Thank you for this! I would never have discovered a book like this on my own. I'm curious now, despite the flaws, and I'll likely check it out of the library, too. (I'm not quite curious enough to spend money...)

  • tmoney

    My students LOVED this book, so I would agree whole-heartedly. I enjoyed it, but the ending was so lame, so very very lame. Also, did the fake handwriting on the back of the one picture really bother anyone else?

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I've been wanting to read this - do you think it would be better in print version rather than e-book?

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    I wish the author had continued the creepy element a bit longer. Maybe make the kids a bit creepier instead of having them be perfectly normal sweet old people trapped in kids' bodies? I say this and I'm not a huge fan of books that scare me...I just felt like the story had so much potential and built up a lot of suspense but didn't go anywhere. Also, the main character wasn't peculiar enough compared with the rest of the kids. If the book had been just about the kids, I would've been happier.

  • BWeaves

    "Is it so hard for ALL 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."

    Yes, THIS ^

    I can't stand it when the story gets you going and there's no climax. It's like bad sex. Give me a good climax and I'll come back for more, but don't string me along telling me "next time it will be better."

  • Pinky McLadybits

    I was also underwhelmed. I was expecting so much more from someone with a unique starting point for a novel. Instead I got formulaic and open-ended. I'll totally see the movie...

  • the other courtney

    Dead on re: the use of pictures to create the plot. It's gimmicky and bugged me as well, however I agree that I would have loved this book (and forementioned gimmick) in high school/jr high. The whole open-ended-to-be-continued hook is a given with YA these days.

  • Viking

    I felt like the book had a strong start and middle but kind of fizzled. I felt like the author maybe was in a rush to finish it. And I remember something about the love interest in the book bothered me, like she was not developed enough as a character. I'm sorry I read it last summer and mostly liked it, but can't remember much about how it ended.

  • Melina

    I don't really remember the ending all that well but I remember being really disappointed by it.

  • Guest

    Ah, I didn't realize this was YA (just not my thing these days; even the "good" stuff ain't working for me). I'm no longer interested in reading the sample stored on my Kindle, and am now in no danger of buying the whole book sans initial toe-dip. This review = valuable. :)

    Re sequels and/or breaking stories up into multiple volumes: we must lay the blame on publishers for that trend....

  • KatSings

    I feel pretty much exactly the same about this. It was fun, but not amazing. And the ending is terrible.

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