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

It was true, of course, what my dad had said: I did worship my grandfather. There were things about him that I needed to be true, and his being an adulterer was not one of them. When I was a kid, Grandpa Portman’s fantastic stories meant it was possible to live a magical life. Even after I stopped believing them, there was still something magical about my grandfather.

YA hasn’t been a frequent read – mostly reading adult science-fiction, fantasy, or horror – but the fascination of this title was too great for me to ignore. ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ creates a picture of strangeness and stretches the concepts of imagination, the very genre I seek.

A family tragedy sets sixteen-year old Jacob on a journey to a remote island, and mysterious, abandoned orphanage. As he explores, he comes to find that the children that once lived there may not have only been peculiar, but dangerous too, quarantined for good reason, one that he will soon come to find out. A too-slow and dragging, but nice enough story to set the genre of YA fantasy apart from the others.

I tried to speak, but all that came out was little stutters. “But I—I can’t—my parents.”

“They may love you,” she whispered, “but they’ll never understand.”

The peculiarity of the children is what different this title from anything else I’ve read; a girl with levitating abilities who must wear weighted shoes, or another with a sharp-toothed mouth on the back of her head — as it suggests, peculiar, and the example of how far creativity goes. Take that away, and all that is left behind is a bland, borderline creepy insta-love story. At least with the basis of peculiarity, things such as Jacob immediately falling for a girl (and the same one his grandfather did decades ago) doesn’t seem as tiresome, rather reluctantly accepted under the circumstances. It does, at times, inevitably creep past weird into just plain wrong.

What does still dampen the story is the style, padded-out so much that, despite the clever concept, the writing does a good job of drawing attention away from it. A style which also uses food to describe character appearance, something which died out years ago. The photos scattered throughout provide that little bit more of visual aid, but not as much as I would have liked.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

Jacob is an arse, making most of his decision on impulse, and Emma has a rightful sense of suspicion and anger, but they are the only characters that feel believable. Besides the children’s abilities, there does not seem like much more that defines them, too many to name and follow after. Despite supposedly being the centre-point, Jacob’s long commentaries overshadows their limelight. Only later when it implies bigger roles, it again falls flat with a one-chaptered climax and rushed end, meaning I must buy the sequel.

Even though it has a compelling subject, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ lacks complex characters, solid plot, and stronger style, so buying that sequel isn’t exactly on the cards as of yet.


7 thoughts on “‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs

  1. Jezza says:

    Oh, God. “Miss Peregrine’s”. I had mixed feelings about this book, too. At the beginning I was like, “Cool!”, then suddenly it got boring. The story was kinda dragging, but I felt compelled to at least finish it. Now it’s been quite a long time since I’ve read it, and I remember almost nothing about the story itself. I never had the heart to read the books that followed, and still haven’t watched the movie adaptation. To me, MPHFPC is sadly unremarkable.

    • Kat says:

      Yeah, exactly. It has such good premise, but it was bogged down, and could’ve done with more action — not so much as in the typical definition, but less monologuing. I’d be open to watching the film, but even then, I wouldn’t expect much. I don’t plan to read the sequels any time soon either.

  2. shahzodav says:

    I haven’t read the book but I’ve seen the film and even though it’s made beautifully, it feels empty. BUT Jacob is not really an ass in the movie, so there’s that.

    • Kat says:

      Ah – so there is an upside! I’d be open to see the film for those reasons. I can’t say it doesn’t look visually stunning.

  3. Marie says:

    Lovely review! I recently finished reading this book and if I overall found it entertaining, I have to admit that yes, it kind of lacked complex characters and I found myself a bit lost between the children at times :/

    • Kat says:

      Thank you! Yes, it lacked in places, and although I’m not in a rush to read the sequels, I wouldn’t write them off completely. Will you be reading the sequels?

      • Marie says:

        I’m not sure yet, I’m in no rush to get to the other books but I’m not writing them off either for now 🙂

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