Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

The Eulogy (From the Publishers):

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A YA/Adult crossover novel that starts out strong but gets less so, though is still one of the more original reads I've encountered in a while.

Dearly Departed, 
We are gathered here today to discuss Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. My opinion of this strange book changed quite a few times over the course of reading it. For the first few chapters one question kept coming back to me – is this really Young Adult? At sixteen, the protagonist is the right age, but I didn’t really feel like he was a YA character – perhaps belonging more one of that new breed of book that is YA written for twenty-somethings which I’ve heard called ‘New Adult’.

But as the story progressed, I wasn’t as troubled by this and relaxed into Jacob’s story as he tried to find out more about his grandfather’s childhood and the supposed monsters that hunted him. This was the part that I enjoyed most, where there’s still a certain amount of disbelief at whether or not these monsters are real. I found myself completely unsure of what was true and what wasn’t, which was a very exciting space to inhabit. Towards the end the story lost a bit of its unpredictability and took on a more familiar guise, but was still an excellent read nonetheless. The only thing that disappointed me a bit was finding out that it will be part of a series – don’t get me wrong, I love series fiction, but I felt that this beautifully presented book which was a little beyond the norm would have done well to buck the series trend and exist purely as a standalone.

The photographs in this book could have a review all of their own, and I thought these creepy, staged shots really added to my overall enjoyment of the book. One thing that really bugs me is when an author is describing a specific object but I can’t quite visualise it, so I found the inclusion of the actual photographs that obviously inspired the story to be a brilliant move. Only towards the end did it start to get a little clumsy, sometimes feeling a little bit like, ‘Hey, we haven’t had a photo for a while. Time to stick one in.’

Miss Peregrine’s is a strange little experience which I found genuinely eerie in places, managing to take me completely by surprise. I think the packaging of the book itself is beautiful enough to make most people pick it up, and I think those who do won’t be disappointed.