Sunday, 23 October 2011

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

Every now and then, you come across a book that makes you think, "This is what books are made for. This is why I read." This was one of those books for me.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children follows the story of Jacob, a boy who grew up idolising his grandfather and the magical, mystical people who populated the stories of his childhood. When he's 15, a horrific event sends Jacob in search of the truth behind his grandfather's stories. He ends up on a small island in Wales, searching for clues of Miss Peregrine, the woman who sheltered his grandfather during World War II, and the fate of the other peculiar children she watched over.

I loved this book for so many reasons, not least of which was the completely unique story. I also adored the language; Ransom Riggs not only has the most awesome name ever, he also has a wonderful writing style. Every sentence is beautifully structured and every word is artfully chosen. On top of all this, the book itself is a treat. The hard cover has a nice surprise engraved underneath the dust jacket, the paper is thick and smooth, the title pages are great and the photographs - well, they're most definitely peculiar. Dispersed throughout the book and woven into the story, Riggs has brought together a remarkable collection of (apparently real) photographs that greatly enhance the reading experience.

The characters are all well-developed and realistic (peculiarity notwithstanding). Jacob in particular is a strong and appealing hero, and I appreciated the fact that even in the most extraordinary circumstances, he reacted exactly as you think a 15-year-old boy would. There's a surprising amount of humour in the book, but there's also a lot of sadness and, as the photos on the jacket suggest, creepiness. The one thing that stops me from being 100 per cent satisfied is the fact that there are A LOT of loose ends left dangling at the end of the book. I was disappointed not to have more closure. I understand that there will be a sequel, but to me, each book in a series should be able to stand as a complete story on its own while also fitting into a larger arc. There is just too much left open for this to be the case with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. It's a shame, because for the majority of the book I was thinking it would easily make it to the top of my all-time favourites list. As it is, it was still a wonderful read and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Rating: 4/5

Eye Candy
I pictured Anton Yelchin as the smart, sensitive Jacob and Chloe Moretz as the brave, fierce Emma.

Fine Print
Published: 2011
Publisher: Random House
Get It: Book Depository


  1. I just bought this one and now really can't wait to read it! Great review!

    ♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

  2. haha, thoughs actors fit perfectly!! I subconsciously pictured them similarly, though I had Jacob as a bit more a pudge-ball.

    I did like this book, but the fact that I went into it expecting to be creeped out of my mind kind of ruined the amazing sweetness and creativity that it ended up being. Ah well.

  3. What a stunning looking book (and you're right about the author's name!)

    I agree with you about the lack of closure in a story arc, though. I'm finding that it's an increasing trend in fiction these days. It feels as though publishers are worried that we won't buy the next book, so they have to use these tactics to keep us reading. But if I love an author, I'm in for the long haul!

  4. @Melissa - Thanks! Definitely read it soon if you can :)

    @Scarlett - Yes, the first third was super creepy and then it totally changed tone. I didn't mind too much, because it was getting so scary I almost couldn't take it (such a chicken!) hehe

    @Stephanie - I agree, and it's so annoying. It's a cheap tactic to get people to keep reading, but if the writing/story is good enough, it should be a given! Cliffhangers at the end of chapters = good. At the end of books = not so much.

  5. Great review!

    I have this one on my TBR list so I can't wait to get into it!

    The concept of incorporating photographs into the text reminds me of the book, Water for Elephants which also does this. Have you read this one? It's a great story (and much better than the movie!).

    And I agree about the name, it's fabulous!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  6. you know what, i've read two positive reviews about this book already, including yours, and now, i'm totally curious about it. i'll have this wishlisted. well written review!

    Nancy @ Simple Clockwork

  7. @Megan - I've read Water for Elephants, I like the photo aspect in that although it's much more effective in Miss Peregrine.

    @Nancy - I read so many positive reviews but for some reason I avoided it for a long time. I finally gave in and I'm SO glad I did.

  8. I really enjoyed it too, but I kept wondering how well it would stand up with the photographs. Like they were just a gimmick that kept it going.

    For me, I liked the beginning and the end but the middle lost it. And you were right, there were an awful lot of loose ends.

  9. @Hanna - I was worried they might be a gimmick but I thought they were incorporated really well. The middle didn't have quite the same punch as the beginning, but I enjoyed it for different reasons. :)

  10. I agree wholeheartedly...except for the development of Jacob as a character part. I like your idea of showing how you pictured the characters. Hopefully all our unanswered questions will be taken care of in the sequel.

    Like you, I REALLY expected this to be one of my favorites, but alas, it was not.

  11. @Shelleybean - I agree, it'll be such a shame if the sequel doesn't provide resolution and match the (mostly) brilliance of the first.

  12. I hope the next book doesn't leave as much hanging as the first. I also loved this book. I found it new and refreshing and the characters were especially fun. I always like some silliness in my characters, so this was a fun one for me. The pictures totally creeped me out, but I'm easily creeped, so oh well. Great review, Belle!

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  14. @Jen - Thanks! Me too. The pictures are REALLY creepy. Especially those twins with the ribbon or whatever it is on the back cover? Yikes.

  15. I went to look up pictures of Ransom Riggs because he looks adorable in his jacket photo, and I saw your blog. I completely agree on the casting!!!

  16. @Misty, thanks for stopping by! Glad you agree :)

  17. To be honest, when I first started reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" I expected a haunting thriller, full of horror and danger. That is not what this book is. Instead, this book is fantasy/adventure combined with a very unique style of photography, which made the book better than I ever thought it would be.

    1. True story! I thought it would be a horror/thriller too! :)

  18. Actually, its funny you should mention it, because even though I was initially attracted to this book, I ended up feeling disappointing by the ending. I felt it left several unanswered questions and I HATED the fact that when they set off on their raft/boat, we honestly have no idea if they will be successful or not. Plus I couldn't help feeling terrible for his dad back at the hotel!

    Argggh! :'(