Book Review: ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs

Posted: 25 February 2014 in Book reviews
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As a kid, Jacob had always been fascinated by the stories his grandfather would tell him; kids who could float, who were invisible, could lift boulders, and the monsters.  But as Jacob got older, he believed less in these stories until he didn’t believe them at all.  Then one day, his grandfather is brutally murdered by a creature no one else believes existed.  Jacob is branded as crazy and sees a shrink who eventually gets him to accept that stress caused him see something that wasn’t real.

When Jacob finds the letter his grandpa wanted him to find, he is plunged further into confusion.  With the go-ahead from Doctor Golan, Jacob and his father leave for Cairnholm, an island in Wales, where Miss Peregrine and her children’s home was.  Jacob was there to find closure while his father was there to birdwatch.

Jacob reaches his first disappointment when he learns that the home had been destroyed on 3 September 1940 (a date his grandfather whispered to him just before he died) and everyone had died.  He ventures out to the house and finds the decaying ruin of a once stately house.  He looks around a bit, but finds nothing and leaves.

He decides to give up.  The whole trip was a waste.  But then one morning he wakes to find a peregrine falcon chilling out in his room.  He wonders if he gave up too quickly and decides to go back and look some more.  He breaks open a chest filled with pictures and then he hears a noise.  Staring at him are some of the very people whose pictures he was looking at.  He chases after them through the bog and into a cairn.

When he exits the cairn, the world seems a bit different.  He goes into town and can’t seem to figure out what is going on.  He narrowly escapes an attack by an angry mob only to be captured at knifepoint by one of the children he was chasing.  He soon learns that he has entered the past to 3 September 1940.  He unknowingly found what he was looking for.  Here he finds all the children safe and alive, having lived the same day in time for the last 60+ years.  He learns that all the stories his grandfather told him were true.  Least of all, he learns that his grandfather was also a peculiar.

And so he bounces between the present and the past, making friends with the children and lying to his father to keep everyone safe, he begins to understand the enigmatic life his grandfather led.  Things were going fairly well until a mysterious rival birdwatcher appears and sheep are killed and a man disappears.  It is then that Jacob learns the dark side of the peculiars life.  They are constantly hunted by hollows (unseen beings only detected by their shadows) and wights (hollows that have consumed enough peculiars).  He is also told that like his grandfather, he is able to see the hollows.  Everything begins to make sense.  Now Jacob has to make a choice: does he stay there and help save the peculiars, or does he return to his time and attempt to live a normal-ish life like his grandfather?  After questioning a dead townsperson and interacting with the mysterious birdwatcher, his path becomes clear.

I read this book after reading about it on a post by JustReviewingBooks (which is oddly no longer available).  I was intrigued to say the least.  This book is definitely written for a teen audience.  There is no sex, drug use, very little language, and no graphic violence.  The subject matter is a bit dark, but I love that kind of stuff.

Our main character is Jacob.  He is a loner with only one friend (which becomes strained shortly after the book begins).  He comes from a wealthy family and doesn’t really fit in anywhere.  Then he meets the peculiars and finds a home.  Jacob is kind of a meh character for me.  Definitely not as interesting as the other peculiars.  His personality is bland and he has no defining characteristics.  But then again, he is a rich teenager who has no friends nor had the need to develop himself.  Now he does.  I really hope he blossoms in the next book because I could begin to see a difference in him the more he hung out with the peculiars.  He’s got more strength than he appears to have.

I really liked the plot.  The twists and turns were well developed and I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next.  I love that in a story.  The ending wasn’t completely obvious as well.  It is a different kind of book than what I am used to, which is a good thing.

It isn’t without it’s mistakes though.  There were a couple inconsistencies, but they also happen wide enough apart that it might not be easy to catch.  They don’t really take away from the story, they just are a bit confusing.  One mentions a boy with a second mouth on the other side of his head and then when Jacob meets the peculiars, it is a girl who has the second mouth.  Then Emma says that Jacob’s grandfather quit writing her after he starts a family, but Miss Peregrine says she knew about Jacob from Abraham’s (the grandfather) letters.  Now he could have still been writing Miss Peregrine, but I understood it as he quit writing them altogether.  Also, Miss Peregrine’s bird form seems to be a lot smaller towards the end of the book than in the middle when she presumedly appears to Jacob.  Might just be me with that one.

All in all, it was a fantastic and engaging read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read the sequel (which I have reserved for me at the library).  You won’t be disappointed with this one.  Enjoy 😉

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