Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)
Author: Ransom Riggs
Rating: ★ ★ 1/2
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young-Adult
Publication Date: 4th June 2013 by Quirk Books
Format Read: Paperback, 382 pages
Synopsis: “A horrific family tragedy sends Jacob 16 to a remote island off Wales, to the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where he finds unusual old photographs. The children, one his grandfather, were more than peculiar, perhaps dangerous, quarantined for good reason – and maybe still alive.” (Taken from Goodreads)
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for ages. It had always been such a unique piece of story-telling, and I was so excited when I finally got my hands on a copy, just before Hollow City came out.
Let’s just say I was pretty disappointed when I finished the novel.
Peculiar Children started off with a bang in its prologue; full of intrigue and mystery, I was begging for more! It was fascinating reading about the stories Jacob’s grandfather told him as a child, and the photos he was shone. Unfortunately, the older Jacob got, the less likeable he became. As a 16-year-old boy, it’s understandable that Jacob would hate his pharmacy job. But his actions and disrespect for his manager really painted him in a bad light. I failed to see why Riggs thought it was necessary to show this side of Jacob to his audience, it played absolutely no role to the character development of Jacob besides to show what an immature boy he is.
Following the tragic death of his grandfather, Jacob begins to have nightmares about a strange and ghastly creature that he believes killed his grandfather. In order to stop these nightmares once and for all, his therapist agrees that Jacob has to figure out his grandfather’s mysterious past, and thus suggests it’s a good idea to visit Cairnholm, a small island in Wales where his grandfather grew up. That’s all well and good, but it annoys me that once the nightmare plot has been played, and Jacob travels to Wales, all the nightmares just stop. Yes, very convenient. And with no explanation either.
At this point, I was still quite interested in figuring out the mysterious home for peculiar children, and what it had to do with Jacob. Unfortunately, I was once again disappointed by the way the mystery unfolded. I didn’t read many reviews for Peculiar Children prior to starting the book, so I was pretty much reading with no prior biases in mind. The plot and the photographs rarely flowed well together, and it felt more like a “here let me show you” device rather than as a complement to the story. I could actually have done without the photos and still have been reading the same story because it really doesn’t add much besides aesthetic value.
I did love flicking through the photos though, they were beautiful and so mysterious. Too bad they didn’t exactly add much substance to the overall book.
While the novel is targeted towards the YA crowd, I would say the story reads more like a child’s story book. The plot was not only predictable but rather cliche. The characters were all quite bland and I found myself losing track of who all the children were and what special skill they each had. All the children lacked characterisation and we never get to hear about their backgrounds. Basically, nothing really stands out about any of them in particular.
And of course, as all YA novels go, there has to be a romance thrown in. I’m not a hater of romance in YA novels (love them in fact if they’re written properly), but I must say that it’s the first time in a while that I’ve hated where the relationship between Jacob and Emma was heading. And let me explain why: Emma, while having not aged physically, is actually around 80. All the children from Miss Peregrine’s house are technically elders, but for some reason still act like little kids. You’d think that having lived for so many years, some of them would have matured a little bit. But back to my disgust for Jacob and Emma’s relationship, I would say the deal breaker had to be the fact that Emma used to date…Jacob’s grandfather. GAG. I wonder what was going through her mind…how is this is even appropriate. Especially when Jacob is described as having similar features as his grandfather. BUT HE IS 16 AND EMMA IS LIKE 80!! No. Just no. Even if she misses his grandfather Abe, it’s still odd to pounce on your ex’s GRANDKID.
Overall, the amount of time it took me to finish this book (5 days I think) should be a testament to how much I liked it. Which was…not that much. While the photos were beautiful and I enjoyed looking at them, they added nothing to the overall quality of the book. Unique concept yes, but it wasn’t executed properly. Plot wise, it was very predictable and juvenile, and the characters were mostly uninteresting and flat. I had yet to read the excerpt included in the book for Hollow City, so my decision to continue with this series will probably be based on whether it’s interesting enough to continue.