Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (2011) [Minor Spoilers]

I decided I had to read this book after I saw the trailer for the film. I’ll admit the main things that stood out to me in the trailer were Asa Butterfield and Eva Green but the concept interested me too. The idea of an orphanage for children with powers was something I hadn’t seen before –  the closest thing being Camp Half-Blood in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I decided that I had to see the film, and, as with most films based on books, I decided that I had to read the book before the film. (I usually do this. I did it with Percy Jackson, City of Bones, Divergent, The Hunger Games, Twilight – and even Wicked, before I saw the musical.)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a teenage boy named Jacob, who, after a family tragedy, goes to a small island off the coast of Wales in search of the home his grandfather lived in as an evacuee during World War II. Jacob’s grandfather had told him fantasical stories about his childhood in that home and Jacob felt a pull towards the place.

This book didn’t go the way I expected it to. From the way the trailer is, I thought the story would take place during modern day, but it doesn’t. Jacob winds up in 1940 inside a thing called a Loop. A Loop is a form of stasis for the children and Miss Peregrine. The same day is repeated again and again and the children don’t grow older. They remember the events of the previous days as you and I do outside of a Loop, but they are forever living on the 3rd September 1940. The Loop keeps the children safe from the hollows – mutated Peculiars with a hunger for Peculiar flesh – as well as the bomb that was dropped on the home by a German bomber. The Loop resets just before the bomb explodes, keeping everyone safe.

I really enjoyed this book and managed to read it in just over a week. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump all year and haven’t read nearly as much as I’ve wanted to, so reading it in a week is pretty good for me this year. I enjoyed the photographs that accompany the story. At the back of the book, the author states that all photographs featured in the book are actual vintage photographs which had little to no editing involved on them. Being in a slump, the photographs helped break up the story a little bit more than the chapters alone did, and this helped me get through the book more easily than I probably would have otherwise.

I would say that Jacob is my favourite character, but a problem I found with this book is that the other characters aren’t characterised very well. I found it difficult to get to know the other characters, save for Jacob’s father. Hopefully this will improve in the rest of the series. I’ll find out soon enough as I’m going to get Hollow City from the library tomorrow.

The story in this first book is intriguing, to say the least. Modern fantasy is one of my favourite genres and I love entering new worlds with complex histories and creatures. The creatures and the lore in this story are original and something I’ve never seen the likes of before. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing the film. I hope they live up to expectations.

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