Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

| Friday, June 10, 2011
So, I only heard about this book the day before it came out (which is to say, Monday). I immediately became excited over the prospect of it, especially after watching the book trailer, created by the author himself. I hoped, I hoped, I hoped that it'd be as cool as the trailer made it look. While it wasn't entirely what I expected, I didn't feel disappointed.

Miss Peregrine's is a very well-crafted, well-written, and fantastically quirky-without-feeling-gimmicky book. If you follow Ransom Riggs on YouTube (check out "The Accidental Sea" and "Talking Pictures," among others), you'll recognize that this book is very, very "him." He's taken his love for real, vintage found photographs, as well as interesting locations and history, and built a delicious little story around it. I've read a few reviews which comment on feeling disappointed that this book didn't end up being a thriller/ghost story/horror, which I suppose is understandable if that's what you were expecting. I'd call it paranormal, but it's in a class away from other paranormal YA I've read lately. Let's just call it "peculiar."

Some have commented that it looked creepy, but didn't really live up. I'd actually disagree. No, this isn't horror/psychological thriller level creepy, but I think it definitely has a little bit of delightful creeping ambiance to it. Not can't-sleep-for-a-week scary, but pleasant goosebumps-inducing.

I did have a little bit of trouble with the voice in this novel. Sometimes Jacob sounded like a realistic teenager, and sometimes his voice took on this oddly formal quality that I couldn't quite wrap myself in. That said, the prose here is a wonderful balance of modern and lyrical. In the end, I could easily overlook my issue with the voice. Some passages also felt a little breezed over, as weeks of time passed and the narrator gave us a general rundown of what we missed. There was a little lull in the middle, but it's not what I'd call boring - just slow. Even this was done with a decent amount of skill, though. The opening chapter was backstory-heavy, but the premise was intriguing enough and the writing strong enough to keep me going. The villains were pretty "mwahahaha," but it seemed to work. Really, those are my only "complaints."

The photographs are a recurring motif through the story. Jacob is constantly finding (or being shown) and describing photographs. One would think this would get repetitive or gimmicky, but it feels very natural to the narrative. Plus, the photographs (which are all real, found photos) are a real treat to see. I can definitely understand how Riggs was able to build a story around them.

The story itself is usually paced well and rarely fails to deliver something of interest, whether it's a strange creature or a strange person or a new location or a mysterious letter or more photos. Riggs even incorporated the Tunguska event into his narrative, which tickled me. The subplots were well-drawn and tied up satisfactorily. The blending of modern-day and history was well-researched and very tangible.

Overall, this novel is a great addition to the YA genre. Pretty obviously set up for a future sequel, but the ending to this one was wrapped up fairly nicely. Not completely perfect, but strong and unique and wonderfully written. Highly recommended.


{ Suzie F. } at: June 10, 2011 at 7:01 AM said...

This sounds intriguing! I'm always looking for something different in YA or MG. I'll definitely check it out.

I watched the trailer and it does seem a bit creepy. Would you say it's unusual in a Gaiman-like way?

{ Robyn Lucas } at: June 10, 2011 at 8:21 AM said...

I'd seen this book around and was on the fence. Thanks for the review.

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: June 10, 2011 at 9:45 AM said...

Suzie - Hm... Gaiman is more whimsical, I think. I've heard Riggs' style compared more to Lemony Snicket, and I'd tend to agree.

Robyn - You're welcome!

{ Old Kitty } at: June 10, 2011 at 1:51 PM said...

Well the trailer is fabulous!!! Wow!!! Thanks for the links and the review! I kind of think maybe I should have not seen the trailer as now I have EXPECTATIONS! LOL! take care

{ Amy @ Turn the Page } at: June 11, 2011 at 8:09 AM said...

Thanks for the review - I have a copy sitting on my desk to read! I loved the trailer so Im excited to see if it lives up to it lol!

{ aspiring_x } at: June 12, 2011 at 5:42 PM said...

wow! that's gotta be the most amazing trailer i've ever seen!

it definitely had a lemony snicket kind of feel, but i could see where people could think darker just from those couple of seconds about what they were hiding from.

sounds incredibly interesting!
thanks for the review!

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