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

I thought Leap Day would be an excellent day to post about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a story about things that might or might not be real, and events that happen inside and outside of timeMy sister (Indie Sister!) gave this to me for Christmas, and I actually read it a while ago but missed reviewing it in one of my reviewing flurries. So I shall talk about it now instead!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a boy called Jacob who was traumatized by the sudden, violent death of his grandfather. He remembers seeing a monster come and take his grandfather, but his family assures him that this never really happened. On the advice of his therapist, Jacob sets out for the Welsh island where his grandfather claims he once attended a school for children with special powers. The idea is for Jacob to see how regular the island really is, so that he can move past these stories and live a normal, well-adjusted life. But when he reaches the island, he finds more than just the broken-down ruins of the old school.

To start with, books with pictures are awesome. I get so excited when I find a slightly older edition of a classic book that has color plates sprinkled throughout. Woodcut or watercolor or pen and ink illustrations make my heart sing. The pictures that adorned my childhood copies of Peter Pan, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Little Women are in my heart forever. I get why books don’t really do this anymore, that color plates cost a fortune and the publishing industry is already struggling, &c., &c. But gosh I sure do love it when a book includes a couple of pictures. Wish they all could. Anyway, Ransom Riggs is a collector of old photographs, and Miss Peregrine is illustrated with pictures he has found over the years.

(Writing in praise of illustrations always makes me feel like “How can you reeeeead this? There’s no pictures!” “Well, some people use their imagination.” “Belle, it’s about time you got your head out of those books and on to more important things. Like me.” Beauty and the Beast is the best, y’all.)

Many of the reviews I’ve read of Miss Peregrine note that the story is rather slight, that it occasionally feels forced. Ransom Riggs wrote the story to the photographs, not the other way around, so this is a natural complaint to have. For me, while the story was a little slight, it wasn’t any slighter than a lot of kids’ books of this type; and I didn’t think the connection between narrative and photographs felt forced at all. The unrealness images fit so well with the tone of the book and the way the children in the home have been taken outside of time.

If I had a complaint, it would be that I didn’t realize there was going to be a second book. I assume there’s going to be a second book? Because the first one wraps up on a sort of “See sequel for more!” note, rather than a “Story is done, the end” note. Jacob has come to terms with his new knowledge of the wonders and dangers of the world, but he hasn’t quite come into his own action-wise. So I’m looking forward to the sequel, in which I hope there will be lots of fights. My favorite thing about stories where people have all different powers is when they team up and use their powers together! To destroy evil! There was some of that in the climax of Miss Peregrine and I liked it.

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30 thoughts on “Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

    • Hahahahaha, I don’t usually mind discovering that books have sequels! I only mind if I didn’t enjoy the first book, because then I have a dilemma: be a completist and read the second one, or recognize that this author just isn’t for me?

  1. I have had a strange relationship with this book. At first, I was really excited to read about it, but then, for some reason, I felt less excited and when I learned what it was actually about, I didn’t want to read it. Then I saw it in Target and picked it up and was totally enthralled by the pictures, and wanted to read it again. Now that has faded and I am back to being “meh” about it. I don’t know why this is, but after reading your review, I am back to wanting to read it again! I think I just need to stop thinking about it and bite the bullet and read the book. It does sound unusual and weird, which are two things I love. Very enticing review today!

    • Sounds like quite the roller coaster, hahahaha. I have books like that and honestly, I usually end up reading them in the end. It’s all about regulating your expectations so you don’t end up expecting too much of the book.

  2. Oh oh oh this is a book that I have been particularly wanting to read! But my library doesn’t do brand-spanking newly published books. I didn’t realize that there would be a sequel. My desire to read it is somewhat diminished.

    • How newly published do they do? I mean how long do you have to wait? It’s not new new, I don’t think — it’s been around for at least six months. I was not an early adopter on this one.

      • I work at an academic library and other libraries won’t loan books that are less than a year old usually. Hopefully the public library that is being built close to my house will have a copy! Or I should buy it, maybe with birthday money.

  3. Your description of this reminded me of Time and Again, which also seemed written to the pictures, in a way that was most appealing. Is this a children’s book? I couldn’t really tell from the reviews I read…but your feeling about a possible sequel sounded more like children’s lit.

  4. Yes, I was a bit disappointed to find out this is yet another series or trilogy. Not sure which. I just know there is going to be a sequel! I think it would have made a fine standalone, but we will see how it goes…

    • I’m kind of wondering how the author will manage the pictures in a sequel. This one works because the boy’s discovering the facts behind old pictures his grandfather had. But what will happen when he’s out having his own brand new adventures?

  5. Yes! Superpower battles are the best. I, too, am hoping for more of that in the next book. Or at least more using their superpowers to advance their journey. Show off your superpowers, kids!

    We read this for book club a few months ago, and a couple girls read it in e-book format. Which was just not the same as physical, paper format. So when we got together they spent a good deal of time pouring over photos – and letters – in the hardback I brought along. I love that this book works best in paper format.

    • Advance the journey wooooo! That’s what I want too. Lots and lots of superpowers, and people getting better at working together with their superpowers.

      Do ebooks not have the pictures? I feel like that destroys half the point of the book!

      • ebooks have the pictures, but they were sort of small and not as clear as in the physical book. And that letter? Was completely unreadable. One of the girls was thinking of doing the audio version and the one girl who had already read it was like “Noooooooooooooo!” You would lose half the story if you didn’t have the pictures.

  6. I quite enjoyed this one, but, like you, was annoyed that it didn’t quite wrap up. I read it in the same week as The Night Circus, and it was a bit too much YA/magic in one week, I think. For an AMAZING illustrated book, take a look at A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Such a powerful story with images that keep pace with and are so true to the turmoil the protagonist is immersed in.

    • Oo, yeah, I can’t imagine it would be a good companion read with The Night Circus. Both of them are lovely but also rather slight plotwise.

      I DO want to read A Monster Calls! I want it because of the pictures and because I love Patrick Ness like my life. :p

  7. I enjoyed the photos, but was rather lukewarm about the story. I also didn’t like the fact that there was going to be a sequel.
    Another story written to illustrations is The Not-So-Very-Nice Goings-On at Victoria Lodge, by Philip Ardagh. He has taken illustrations from The Girls Own Paper from 1891 and 1892 and thought up a story around them. It is utterly silly and hilarious. 🙂

  8. I’ll read the second one and then decide. Pretty much I feel like I have to read anything by someone who went to the college where I work. It would feel silly to miss something in my own back yard.

  9. I didn’t love this like I hoped to, but I’m such a sucker for endings where people team up to fight evil and/or daringly rescue someone that I’m still looking forward to the sequel. (Although I’ll definitely have to reread this one first, because it’s faded in the couple of months since I read it.) Plus, yes, pictures in books are awesome. Illustrated books bring me joy.

  10. I am so excited about the sequel, because I’m pretty sure they’re going to a camp and it is so rare to see time travellers actually go to really painful places in history. In general they are off having japes, with a bit of danger. This seems like it will be different. I would really like a spin off novel first though, one about Jacob’s grand father’s war time experiences + monster fighting, but then I am greedy.

  11. Sounded like a good story, book ‘looked’ good….but it did not hold my attention, and I read a lot of books! I gave up reading it halfway through, which is long enough to give a book a ‘chance’. It may be recommended for a teen, but that is about it.

  12. Pingback: Book Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” « The Cheap Reader

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