[Book Review] Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
So I totally meant to write an entry about this book about 2-3 days ago now. I was going strong for a while, averaging about a post a day, but then life caught up to me and I got too busy to post again. I’ve sort of gone back to my irregular posting habits, but I think already this month has been a record one in terms of how many times I’ve posted. I think last year I maybe posted at most once or twice a month, so this month has been a definite improvement over that.
Anyway, this entry is dedicated to Scotty of 3Guys1Movie and his wife. I had asked on Twitter a few days ago—since my followers happened to be fairly active that day—and I asked them what they would rather see me review, books, music, or a movie. Hilariously, only two people (out of the at least five or six that were actively tweeting back and forth with me that day) responded. And actually, now that I think about it, one of the people who responded hadn’t even been one of those that had been conversing with me at the time. From the two people who responded, each asked for something different and there was no tie-breaker, so as per their request (though I apologize for being a bit late in responding), I will be posting up tonight one book and one movie review. I’ve decided to start off with the book review, so here goes! (And here’s to hoping his wife hasn’t read it yet, haha.)
I’ve heard a fair amount of hype about this book, so I was a little skeptical when I picked it up. Usually when a book seems to have everything going for it—great summary, nice looking cover, lots of positive buzz—I tend to shy away from it until all the buzz dies down. However, I had a few slots open in my digital library queue and this book was available, so I went ahead and borrowed it.
I did not regret my decision one bit.
(Side note meant for Scotty: I tried to find a free Nook book to review, but a lot of free books for the Nook are like Amazon’s free book collection—tons upon tons of “trashy romance novels.” And quite honestly, they didn’t seem really worth the time to pick up.)
I read a few reviews from other readers after I finished the book. The reviews seem generally to be mostly positive—the major complaint among those who weren’t so happy with the book seemed to be that the book misled some (whether because of the cover or description) that this was supposed to be from the horror genre. On the one hand, I can understand that argument; some of the pictures (book cover included) make it seem like you’re in for a bone-chilling read. On the other hand, I think a lot of it also has to do with a person’s imagination. Myself personally, I cannot stomach anything of the horror genre, but only if it’s in the form of visuals. When it’s all in book form, I’ve found that I don’t really get too scared no matter who it is I’m reading, even Stephen King; reason being that with words, it’s easier to control how scared I allow myself to get. Also, I think with all the violence and movies of the horror genre being plugged out pretty constantly, people are probably a lot more numb to fear than they used to be compared to say back in H.G. Wells’ day.
I found that there were a few eerie moments in the book, but again, this is debatable depending on each individual’s tolerance level for the genre. On the whole I would say the book leans more towards fantasy with a bit of a Gothic element to it.
In my opinion, the book was well written. I was drawn in practically from the first page, and I was definitely locked in until the end by the time I completed the first chapter. This was a pleasant surprise for me because this was a book that I just didn’t want to put down and did so only when I absolutely had to. The story does end on a cliffhanger, but it does so nicely that while it definitely has me waiting for the sequel (which is slated to release January 2014, which is next year), it does have its own solid story. Meaning the book doesn’t read like an intentional marketing stunt, the ones that give you the sense that the author accomplished nothing at all because it feels like he or she is just trying to draw the series out for as long as possible just to make a lot of cash.
For those who enjoy fantasy books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Percy Jackson series, you will likely enjoy this as well. The main character, Jacob, gets whisked off into another world, discovers people who are (as the title implies) rather out of the ordinary, and gets involved in a situation bigger than himself. The book contains all the elements I find typical in most fantasy stories, but that didn’t make it any less pleasurable to read.
Of course I did find a few pitfalls here and there, but quite honestly none of it really distracted me or bothered me enough to make me drop the book. In fact, as soon as I am able, I plan to purchase this story for my Kindle—I enjoyed it that much.
While I’m on the subject of the Kindle though, some notes about the eBook edition of this text. I am not sure how it is for the Nook or other eReaders, though I imagine it will be a very similar experience. This book is the kind that does a lot of what I like to call “scrap booking.” What I mean by this is, there are some pages in this book that are dedicated to black and white photographs and “inserted” letters written by characters. It’s the type of thing where when debating between going the eBook route or purchasing the book in traditional book binding, one might consider buying the actual hard copy of the book in this case. I personally didn’t mind it, but in eBook format, some of the pictures had so much black that I really couldn’t get a lot of detail out of them on my Kindle, and some of the letters took a little bit of patience to read, since I couldn’t zoom in on them on my Kindle and the words were in handwritten cursive with pretty light ink. In a regular book I would imagine the ink is likely clearer and easier to read.
Oddly enough the main character wasn’t my favorite, but he didn’t annoy me so badly that I couldn’t enjoy the book. My favorite character was the invisible boy, Millard, who for some reason reminded me a lot of the invisible man character in the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). Perhaps he isn’t a character that would stand out in most readers’ minds, but I personally enjoyed every scene he popped up in.
FINAL VERDICT: B+
The book does sort of fall short in that it does contain its small share of clichés, confusing descriptions, and certain scenes that could have used a bit of explanation. (One such scene being **MINOR SPOILER ALERT** one of the characters is pretty much obliterated, and it isn’t quite explained when or how he is somehow revived.)
Where this book really shined for me was that I could totally see this being turned into a movie, not to mention I could see said movie playing in my mind as I was reading. As I’ve mentioned before, I look forward to the sequel and if it is written as wonderfully as this book, I will likely be purchasing that one as well.