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

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Published by Quirk Books
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased myself
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A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And 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 who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate 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.

Thoughts: I’ve seen so many rave about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children… and after reading it, I can see why so many people loved it. I, however, am not one of those people.

Miss Peregrine (as I will be calling it from here on out) has a very unique selling point: it incorporates spooky, classic photography into the main plot. So, on one page a character describes a photo he is looking at and on the next page we see the actual photograph. It’s pretty neat and the photos that are incorporated into the novel tell a story by themselves. The image on the cover, for example, is of a girl actually featured in the novel. As the photo so clearly demonstrates, she’d rather peculiar.

So while I enjoyed that aspect of the novel, it was not enough to make up for the book’s main problem: the writing. Miss Peregrine felt like a student exercise – perhaps an A* student exercise, but not a professional job. Had Ransom Riggs not incorporated the photography into the book, I doubt it would have gotten very far. Ransom Riggs is just trying too hard. Miss Peregrine is supposed to be a creepy, suspenseful, disturbing novel – a book à la 1800s freak-show circus. Instead it is a mildly entertaining story about a boy who starts dating his grandfather’s ex-girlfriend (which was just the wrong kind of disturbing).

And yet, I probably could have enjoyed lack-luster pacing and plot, if only the characters had been at all gripping – they weren’t. It was as if they had been created solely to fit with the photographs Riggs had found. This was particularly disappointing, considering the fantastic original concept that created the characters.

Despite my apathy for Miss Peregrine, I can see why so many people enjoyed it. While I didn’t find the book creepy or disturbing enough to merit its reputation, I think creepiness is a rather subjective test. Also, the photography, layout, and concept behind the novel are unique enough to warrant some investigation into the second book!

Bottom line? Miss Peregrine fell flat. Decent enough, but not worth the hype.