Book Review: Miss Peregrines School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

img_34854.5 out of 5 Stars

I admit I am pretty late to the party on this book. I happened to be in a book store and finally grabbed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children since I have been wanting to read it for ages. I am so late in fact, that the movie is due to release 30 September 2016 (in the US) and already has 2 book sequels.

I might be late to the party, but I am sure glad I got there in the end. I really loved this book and I can’t wait to read the others, which I promptly bought this week just before I finished reading.

Based on the trailer (which I have included below), the book is much different than what they are doing the movie as. My husband thinks I like to ruin movies by reading the books first, but as the trailer looks really good I am hoping I can separate them from each other and just enjoy the movie for what it is.

The plot of the book goes like this: A boy named Jacob has a grandfather who tells him amazing stories from the time he is very little about a little island he was sent to as a teenager to save his life. He was a Jew in Europe and was running from the Nazis, or that is what he came to believe. Grandpa said he was running from the monsters. As a child Jacob loved the stories and as he got older had a hard time believing them despite the photo evidence his grandfather produces. He thinks the photos have been doctored and are not true – they portray girls who float, and dog faced boys, invisible boys, girls who have mouths at the back of their heads and so much more. As Jacob becomes a teenager, he falls in line with his family who believe grandpa is starting to lose his mind. He calls Jacob at work one day asking where the key is to his trunk of weapons. The family has hidden the key to protect grandpa and everyone around him. After talking to his dad after getting grandpa’s call, Jacob goes to his grandfather’s house and finds is empty and torn apart. He gets the feeling he needs to go into the woods behind grandpa’s house and starts getting some strange feelings. He eventually finds his grandfather, who has been attacked and hears his last words before he dies giving him clues on where to go and what to look for. Before taking his grandfather out of the woods, Jacob sees something truly terrifying watching him, and he knows this is what has killed his grandfather. From here our adventure continues. Jacob goes to the small island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather says he lived and he starts his search for “The Bird”, “The Loop”, and “9, 3, 1940”.

I am a dreadfully slow reader and I cruised through this book in 4 days (my edition has 348 pages). I was completely hooked. I loved it! I loved the characters, which in a relatively short book you get to know so many of them fairly well. I felt like the story moved along really smoothly and being a fantasy book, used everything it can while keeping true to itself. It doesn’t feel like things are thrown in willy nilly (I have read several books that are like this lately). Everything had a purpose.

One of the things I really love are the photos that Mr. Riggs has incorporated into these books. They are real images that he and other collectors have found in antique shops or flea markets. He puts them into the books and they portray his many characters or the scenes he describes. I love being able to imagine things while reading and have a pretty good imagination, but I found this really fun and a great way to bring really old images back to life through story. Mr. Riggs has a hobby of collecting pictures of people he doesn’t know which he thinks is kind of strange, or peculiar, and he explains it here:

 

I was surprised how many of my friends have read this book and loved it as well. It might be classified as a young adult book, but I feel it is really well written and adults will be equally as happy with it. I can’t wait for the movie and will do my best not to compare the two works, but to try and think of them individually. It might be tough though.

 

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