Book Report - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

5:34 AM

Clearly, there is not much going on in my bike world right now – unlike everyone in the mid-west, I did not go to Jingle Cross this past weekend (next year…must make it to Jingle Cross next year…).  I didn’t race Rattail – missed a tiny 3-woman race and accomplished one of my November Intentions – and the weather has been mild enough to get in some good training rides. 

So rather than write about cycling, I’m posting about a book I actually finished: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  Spoiler alert – I will be discussing the plot details – you’ve been warned.

The book is built around an interesting concept – Riggs uses a collection of vintage photographs to craft a story about “peculiar” children with extraordinary abilities and oddities (bees shoot out of one boy’s mouth, another young child has a mouth in the back of her head) who find protection at Miss Peregrine’s titular home.  Riggs weaves these pictures throughout his narrative of a young man, Jacob, as he discovers that the stories his grandfather told him when he was a child weren’t just fantastical, they were true.

Jacob’s grandfather, who possessed his own peculiarity, was protected by Miss Peregrine when he escaped the Nazis in World War II, but we soon learn that there are more monsters that continue to live and hunt those with peculiarities in the modern world.  The book, which is essentially a science fiction mystery, takes us with Jacob as he discovers the home, meets the children and their protector, and inadvertently brings the monsters with him.

I truly enjoyed the pacing and parallel narratives of Riggs’ novel.  Jacob’s growing awareness of the world around him fits neatly within the evolution of his grandfather’s story – first as a series of fantastical tales told by an old man, then as a metaphor for the War and the Nazis, and finally as an entry into the adult world where dangers are very real and Jacob begins to understand how little he knew of his grandfather.  The revelation of the island and the mysteries contained there is well paced, and the mystical world created is rooted enough in reality for the reader to buy-in to the more unbelievable elements.

I was disappointed, however, in the closing of the novel.  Perhaps I am a bit too cynical, but it appears to be a blunt set-up for a sequel.  (Oh, young adult novels, must everything come in threes?)  And then the even more cynical side of me wonders if the author was thinking of a movie deal all along when he brought his narrative to a not-quite-a close.  A quick google search brought me to Riggs’ website, where he did announce a sequel in the works; and yes, there is an “in production” page for it at the Internet Movie Database (rumors of Tim Burton for director are floating about).  While the story was a good read, I’m not quite sure these characters and this world can carry another book… 

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