“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs: Book Review

It’s been – what? – a week, I guess, since I last posted a retrospective book review, so I’ve decided it was time for another. This time, I’m doing one for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last couple of days. There’s been some stuff going on, and then I got a little sick cuz of something I ate (but it was so worth it). But now I’m back and rating to go!

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. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.

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

A Story Told Through Creepy Photos | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs [Book Review]

THEN: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

NOW: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I’m gonna be honest. This book kind of holds a special place in my heart. Like, I really liked this book when I read it the first time, and I liked it again when I went through it again. The only reason my rating dropped half a star at all, is because I know that there are books that I like even more than I did when I originally read Miss Peregrine’s.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a novel written by Ransom Riggs, and published by Quirk in 2011. It’s got a lot of different genres to it, including: fantasy, historical fiction, horror, YA, and fiction in general, but it never feels too bloated, or like it has too many genres to it. Riggs wrote an incredibly interesting story, that was also super engaging. Like, it was very hard to put down. Also, I’ve almost never gone out and bought sequels this quickly before.

I should also probably mention that a movie based on this book was something that someone decided to create, and was released in 2016. I’ve never seen it, so I’m probably not qualified to comment on it, but considering we’ve seen hide nor hair of an adaptation of one of Miss Peregrine’s sequels, I have a feeling it didn’t do so hot.

The Characters

“I don’t mean to be rude,” I said, “but what are you people?”

“We’re peculiar,” he replied, sounding a bit puzzled.”‘Aren’t you?”

The characters are probably the weakest part of the book, unfortunately. Not to say that they were bad, because they weren’t. At all. This is just a more plot-focused story.

Our protagonist is Jacob, and the book is also from his first person POV. It was something I appreciated when I read it the first time, as most YA novels at the time were first person perspectives focused on Katniss Everdeen clones. So it was a bit of fresh air, to me.

Anyway, Jacob is, admittedly, slightly bland, looking back on it, but he wasn’t by any means terrible. The thing that bothered me the most about him, though, was that his inner monologues and thoughts did not sound like a sixteen-year-old boy’s. The prose was far too flowery for that. It read like an adult’s thoughts, and took me out of the book just the slightest bit.

Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.

Like, seriously, does that sound like the musings of a teenage boy to you?

So, anyway, the other characters were extremely interesting on the surface, with cool powers, and were pretty diverse, but they weren’t super developed here. (Note: It should definitely be noted that this isn’t an inherent problem with the series, the characters actually do development quite a bit in the latter books.) I did really like them though, and the way they interacted with the setting was brilliant.

The Setting

When someone won’t let you in, eventually you stop knocking.

Speaking of, the setting for Miss Peregrine’s is as odd as it is unique. At first, it just seems like an urban fantasy. Then, it seems like a hidden-world-urban-fantasy. And then it turns out to be an urban fantasy, with a hidden world inside of a time loop. (I can’t explain it better than that – you’ll just have to read the book, I guess.) So yes, there is a bit of time travel here, and it is done in a pretty interesting way.

I liked how the two primary settings interacted in general – modern day America and the UK during 1940. This is basically done through our MC, as he’s what essentially links the two. The time loop and time travel in the book just intrigued me the most, honestly.

The Photos

We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.

The photos were, hands down, the absolute coolest part of the book. And the series as a whole, actually. Riggs took real-life, real-weird photos, and basically wove an entire story around them. And it was so cool.

The pictures referenced and described were even in the book, which made it even better, and more immersive. It was just such a unique story, especially for a YA novel at the time.

Final Thoughts

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a unique and interesting way to tell a story, featuring some incredibly weird and creepy photos for its inspiration.

It’s something that I also definitely recommend to anyone who’s interested, or weirded out by old, stranger-looking pictures, as well as uncanny valley stuff. You (probably) won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

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