Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

"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."
- Random Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children



Book Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publication Date: 2011
Genres: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
How I Found It: Recommendation Lists
Goodreads Rating: 3.74 Stars 
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Characters:
Jacob - 16 year old average nerd
Abe - Jacob's grandfather who entertains Jacob with his life adventures
Miss Peregrine - Headmistress of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Emma - A "spark" at the Home and Abe's former girlfriend
From the Publisher: 
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.
My Thoughts:
This book was at Target for $6. It is some of the best $6 I've spent. 
I've heard about this book, but as everyone in my book club can attest to, I am quite afraid of scary books, and I was a little reluctant to pick it up because the cover looks rather terrifying. Over the past few months though, I've been hearing so many great things about it, especially in all of the Best of YA lists and the awards lists, so I added it to my To-Read list. I've been needing a change of pace in my reading patterns lately, so I turned to my list on Goodreads to see what YA books I had tagged. Of course, when I saw that John Green recommended it on the back cover, I figured it wasn't such a big risk for a book with so many accolades. 
I was blown away. The story was a great mixture of fantasy and reality that takes the reader just to the edge of their imagination without pushing so far that you can't imagine this is possible. It was actually really reminiscent of Percy Jackson in that it created a whole second world that coexists with the one we are living in. 
Without spoilers, Jacob's grandfather was killed early in the book, and Jacob decides to go on a mission to find out the truth behind his grandfather's cryptic last words. What he finds is that the "stories" his grandfather told him as a child was actually true, and a whole world exists apart from the one we are living in. Jacob meets characters from his grandfather's childhood and, in true YA fashion, fights to defend the world that he has come to love. 
Maybe it has been a long time since I've read YA fantasy, but this story felt like something totally different from the YA fantasy I've read before. It was not predictable, and, for the most part, very believable. There were a couple times that I felt the author pushed too hard to make the story work, and I can't see Jacob as a 16 year old boy. He's much more reminiscent of a 14 year old or younger. However, that didn't deter from the story much. It was beautifully written in a way that was not simplistic nor over-the-top. 
Plus, I didn't even realize that it contained pictures when I bought the book, but it does, and it's used to enhance the story. Each picture is mentioned within the story, each picture adds to the reader's envisionment of the story, and each picture is an actual vintage picture that the author found by digging through garage sales and family archives. So. Cool.
Honestly, this book was refreshing after reading quite a few heavier adult fiction books, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a compelling light read.
The Pros:
Unique Storyline
Vintage Photos!
Captivating Writing
The Cons:
Age of Main Character
Difficult to Suspend Disbelief
Recommended To:
People who love fantasy
Percy Jackson fans
X-Men Fans 
Favorite Quotes:

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

"I did love her, of course, but mostly because loving your mom is mandatory, not because she was someone I think I'd like very much if I met her walking down the street."

"To have endured all the horrors he did, to have seen the worst of humanity and have your life made unrecognizable by it, to come out of all that the honorable and brave and good person I knew him to be--that was magical."

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

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