Thursday, January 19, 2012

Premature Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs, 2011)

Ransom Riggs' first novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a hybrid of sorts. The story revolves around children with special gifts and is inspired by odd photographs which the author assures are actual, untouched photos except for some minor modifications. That is not to say the photos depict real things. Certainly these are photographic illusions, but are purported to be old camera trick photographs. You know. Before there was photoshop.

One of the creepier photos, though these two do not seem to appear in the story.

Our hero is Jacob Portman, a young suburban rich kid who idolizes his grandfather who showed him photographs and told him stories of the wonderful children in them, and the place they are from. Most of the family thinks the old man is either nuts, or the stories are his way of dealing with the trauma of being a Slav in late 1930s Poland. Either way, Jacob eventually disbelieves the stories which leads to the tarnishing of the image he has of grandpa. After his grandfather dies, theoretically from an animal attack during a psychotic episode, Jacob is sent to a psychiatrist to help deal with the problems. Eventually this leads him to the island his grandfather told the stories about, and to the beginning of the real story.

I must say, this was an extremely enjoyable book. I finished it in several days, which for me is the typical duration of a comic book (I am a slow reader). The story is fast moving and coherent. The pictures are included at appropriate points, and with appropriate breaks so that you do not need to find where to stop reading to view it. There are several characters which are well developed, and several that are secondary but developed sufficiently to give them character when they appear, but not creating a ton of less-than meaningful text.

Now, while the protagonists are predominantly teenagers, it is not exactly a young-adult book. The language gets a tad salty, if I may use so archaic a term. It is not sexually charged, and not entirely inappropriate for teens, but it is also not a youth book that adults could enjoy as much as it is an adult book that could be enjoyed by teens, like Catcher in the Rye or Treasure Island. If you like a bit of fantasy and a bit of horror it is well worth your time.


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

This is on the top of my must read list. It seems like something I would enjoy a lot. I love the idea of the weird photos accompaning the story.

Darius Whiteplume said...

It was very enjoyable and I think you'd get a kick out of it. The pictures are not so numerous that they detract from the reading, and predominantly have good impact. There may be a sequel... Riggs kind of left the door open for one, but fortunately it ends without the need for one.

T. Roger Thomas said...

Interesting premise but I already have a stack of fiction to read.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I have too many books too. Got this for Giftmas and had heard good things.

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