Feb 1, 2014

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publishing Date: June 7, 2011
Pages/Format: 352, Hardcover

As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: Eh.

What I expected from Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children was something, well, peculiar. And while there was some peculiarity, the book fell short. I mean, we don't even get to meet what's in the title--Miss Peregrine, her home, and the peculiar children--until, spoiler alert, well over a hundred pages into the book.

I can't really think of any glaring issues with this book. It just lacked a wow factor. After finishing it, I didn't feel much of anything toward it--and I still don't. The writing didn't bother me; in fact, it was pretty darn good, and I'd read more from Ransom Riggs (including this book's sequel Hollow City). I don't think the pace was slow--I think it was the buildup. You know, based on the title and synopsis, that there's some house full of peculiar children. So until that house shows up in the book, you're waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And then once you get there, it's not what you thought it'd be. Sure, we get to meet lots of the peculiar children and see their photos (some of which slightly freaked out when I was reading this, at night, when everyone else was sleeping). But there wasn't enough about them, and that's what I wanted. And something I did get but wasn't expecting? Time travel.

In case you haven't read this book I don't want to say too much and spoil it for you, but time travel plays a part in this book. (Who knew, right?) Don't ask me how it works, because I don't know. (Those parts in the book were pretty much lost on me.) It was just one more thing that made this book something I didn't think it was going to be, and I've gotta say, I'm kind of disappointed. I was hoping to be SERIOUSLY creeped out by Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, and for the majority of the book, I totally wasn't.

Even though I didn't get everything I wanted out of them, I did like the characters. Jacob was a likeable, readable protagonist and POV. He simply wants to know if the stories his grandfather told him were true. And so he goes on an adventure, and that's when he meets Miss Peregrine, her home, and the peculiar children. Emma can make light in her hands, Millard is invisible, Olive can float in midair (cover, hint hint), Hugh is like a living beehive, and so on. I appreciated how every character was different, not just in their peculiarities but in their personalities. There was some romance in here, and while I liked it because I love romance, it was a slight bit weird, because reasons. (Read the book and you'll know what I'm talking about.)

In the end, I think the real peculiarness of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is the photos sprinkled throughout the book, not the story itself. It'll be really interesting to see how it's translated into a movie, especially since TIM FREAKING BURTON is doing it. I know my review suggests otherwise, but this isn't a bad book. For me personally, it was just lackluster, and missing umph. Sure, sometimes I was into it, but sometimes I was reading it and not really absorbing it. (And the small font didn't help anything.) Hopefully, Hollow City redeems its predecessor, but we shall see!

Did I like it? I didn't dislike it.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Not likely.
Would I purchase it? I already have it.
Who would I recommend it to? With the photos intermixed in the story, this book has a little something different. There's also a bit of a creep factor. And if time travel interests you, check this out.


  1. I have the same reaction with this book. It is good but it lacks something or maybe I'm too excited to meet the peculiar children but they didn't have enough screen time in the book at all. I think that's why it fell short for me too.

  2. I had a very similar reaction. I was expecting something quite different from what I got. I do want to reread it, because I'm curious to see if my disappointed feeling was from (a)the fact that the plot actually was disappointing, or (b)simply because I was expecting something totally different. I did love the vintage photos, though. ;) I think that sold everyone on it.

  3. I felt the EXACT same way as you about this book. Once we got to the island and all that I expected it to get creepy... and it really didn't. The photos felt forced to me at times (even though I really really liked them), the romance was icky (your g-pap's ex???), and I didn't get the whole loop thing (it wasn't described well enough for me to completely get it). I do want to read Hollow City bc I am really interested to see what happens off the island AND see the new pics :)


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