Ransom Riggs’ debut novel is surprisingly genius for a first novel. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is definitely not what I expected when I began reading it. I thought it was your typical Y.A. fiction novel: angsty teenager feels no one understands him and he meets these creepy ghost children who show him that yes, he CAN fit in! But boy was I wrong.
Although it does start out about a teenage boy feeling out of place in the world, the book takes an eerie turn from the beginning. Jacob Portman finds his grandfather fatally wounded in the woods after being attacked by a monster. Only Jacob is able to see these monsters; everyone else believes he was killed by a wild animal. Before he passes, his grandfather tells Jacob about a letter from long ago and gives him some vague hints and a date for Jacob to find his old orphanage where he grew up in 1940. Jacob is determined to discover the meaning of these clues. He figures it out, and his dad accompanies him to an island in Wales.
Jacob finds an abandoned mansion on the island, which is where the orphanage was, but it has been destroyed by WW2 bombs. Eventually, Jacobs stumbles into a bog which turns out to be the opening of a time loop. Emma, his grandfather’s long lost love, who remains a young-looking 16 year old girl, befriends Jacob and leads him to the home for peculiar children. These children are peculiar because they all have special powers or abilities. Jacob goes on some crazy adventures with them in the time loop.
The plot thickens when Jacob learns that the peculiars are being hunted down and their mother-figure, Miss Peregrine, is kidnapped. He must make a choice: stay and help the peculiars and possibly never leave the time loop, or leave his grandfather’s friends and Emma and go back to his dull and misfit life.
This book is just the first in a series of 3 novels. Even though the book was not what I expected at all, I still enjoyed it and it was a different change of pace from what I normally read. I thought the writing style was excellent, the plot was very well thought out, and the medium of photographs throughout was intriguing. Riggs stated in the author interview in the back of the book that he found or purchased most of the photographs in the book and built the story around the characters in the photographs. Many are very peculiar indeed. Here are some of the images used:
Pretty crazy kids, right?
I think if I would have read this as a pre-teen or 15 year old, I would be thoroughly creeped out by some of the characters and especially the wights and hollows (bad guys). Some of the time-loop stuff was hard to comprehend, just because it was hard for me to wrap my mind around which location Jacob was in at which moment. As for the writing and the photos, I applaud Riggs at his risky endeavor, especially for a debut novel.
I give this book a 3/5.
I do not own any of these photographs.