review: miss peregrine’s home for peculiar children
Do you know how long it took me to read this? As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to check it out. But being as I’m incredibly behind with reading, well, everything, it sort of fell by the wayside. Then I finally bought it and started reading….and it fell by the wayside yet again. And now, I’ve finally finished, and I’m a bit mad at myself that it took so absurdly long. But I’m done! And now I’m going to talk about it!
First, though, I have to say – this is the first young adult book I’ve read that was written by a guy since my days of devouring Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine by the armful. I don’t know why that is. Maybe there are fewer guys in YA nowadays? I don’t know. But I do know that I really need to make it a point to read more male-written books. And also probably more books with a male protagonist. Anywho, the review!
Cover Girl: Yeah, so I love this cover. I don’t even really have any other sentences to add. Fantastic job done by Doogie Horner. Also, that name’s pretty great too.
Character Witness: Jacob, our protagonist, cannot possibly get more average as a sixteen-year-old. In some parts, it feels like he’s plain in order to be easier to identify with. I, personally, get bored with that kind of setup. I don’t really want to read things to identify; I read to put on someone else’s pants for a bit. However, I understand and actually enjoy the fact that Jacob is so plain for reasons that I can’t divulge. Sorry, read the book!
His family is kind of an afterthought, aside from his father and grandfather. His father fits the neurotic overprotective parent bill in a way that isn’t irritating, simply realistic. And his grandfather is hardly there, but still manages to be well-characterized. You easily get the sense of the grandfather’s heroic nature even without him around to do said acts in person. It feels very much like someone fondly recalling a lost family member years down the road.
And then there are the Peculiars. There are several of them, and I enjoyed nearly all of them, but the two that stand out most for me were Emma and Millard. Emma is the…uh…love interest? I don’t know how to really describe this. Emma is there, and she’s a girl, and there are feelings. She’s a bit of a firecracker (pun semi-intended) and plays well against Jacob’s straight man persona. She gets him to act and react, and that’s always nice. Plus, their interactions don’t feel forced. Maybe a bit rushed…
Millard, though, just amuses me with his old guy mannerisms. For some reason, while reading, I read every one of his lines in a voice similar to Martin Prince. If you haven’t read the book yet–you’re welcome.
Plot Plot Fizz Fizz: Following the mysterious death of his grandfather, Jacob finds himself under the care of a psychiatrist thanks to his insistence that his grandfather was killed by a monster. His parents are, understandably, worried about him, and Jacob’s worried about himself. However, he decides that to ease his own mind, he needs to see about an island his grandfather mentioned before dying, and things just get weird from there.
The plot moves a bit slowly for my liking. There’s a lot of build. A LOT of build. And then, wham!, action near the end. Plenty of books and movies operate this way, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I just don’t have the patience–or rather, the attention span–for this. And for that reason, it took me some time to get through this. I’m glad that I stuck with it, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Despite not much action, it’s full to bursting with descriptions. Ransom Riggs could probably make a description of a cup of yogurt seem whimsical and enthralling. Also, there are pictures:
Now, it’s not a picture book, mind you. It’s a book, with pictures. The pictures weave into the plot, and they weave fairly well. But (and of course I must find something to gripe about) my tiny nitpick here is that often times, I find that having the pictures provided to me kind of detracts from the story. The fantastic descriptions of the Peculiars could stand well on their own without the showcase of photos to go along with them. I felt, in a way, that the book was telling me what to imagine, and being a stubborn lady, I disliked that a bit. Independently, though, I loved the photos and have always had an interest in weird photos like that. I just kind of wish they had been included in the back and not sprinkled throughout the book.
Aesop It To Me: There’s a lot to be said about the ordinary and the extraordinary in this book. But I kind of just want to focus on this tiny bit with regards to Jacob’s father.
I knew exactly what was about to happen. It was part of this pathetic cycle my dad was caught in. He’d get really passionate about some project, talk about it nonstop for months. Then, inevitably, some tiny problem would crop up and throw sand in the gears, and instead of dealing with it he’d let it completely overwhelm him. The next thing you knew, the project would be off and he’d be on to the next one, and the cycle would start again. He got discouraged too easily. It was the reason why he had a dozen unfinished manuscripts locked in his desk, and why the bird store he tried to open with Aunt Susie never got off the ground, and why he had a bachelor’s degree in Asian languages but had never been to Asia. He was forty-six years old and still trying to find himself, still trying to prove he didn’t need my mother’s money.
Um. Too close! TOO CLOSE! My heart fell a bit reading that paragraph because it’s so like me, and so like several people I know, that it was almost disheartening. But after taking a reading break and mulling over my existence and that paragraph, I realized it probably wasn’t meant to be discouraging, but something of a wakeup call. Or maybe I’m just reading my own agenda into it.
Say Something Nice: No. You can’t make me. Besides, this was all nice.
Final Verdict: Cutting straight to the chase, 8/10. It’s a great read, even greater for people who actually have attention spans long enough to not give up on the book repeatedly. Everything about this book is carefully crafted and it paid off. Please please read it if you haven’t already!