“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.”
– Ransom Riggs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Before I start this review, let me tell a little story about how I got my hands on this book.
Disclaimer: this short story I am about to tell you is in no way, shape, or form trying to throw shade at Amazon. I just thought it was a cool-ish story.
For my birthday, I received this book along with the other two books in the set. (The set was from Amazon). When I started reading the first book, I got about 50 pages in until I was very, very confused. One page was talking about the abandoned house while the next started in the middle of someone’s dialogue and was speaking about crazy men trying to fight Jacob in a bar?! I re-read it over and over again. I felt like there was a chunk from the story missing. I was right, because there were 100 missing pages in the book. I did my research and found that this was pretty common. I eventually returned it and ordered a new set so that I could finish the book.
Now, on to the review!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is the first book in a trilogy about kids born with incredible gifts ranging from an invisible boy to a girl with a mouth on the back of her neck. Common people can not understand their peculiarity, so they live in the shadows. Not only do they avoid common people, but they also have to avoid monsters. These monsters are tall with longs, lingering arms and legs. They have no eyes and unbelievably long tentacle-like tongues. The movie, which I have been trying to restrain myself from referring to, does a pretty good job creating these monsters.
Why do these beasts consistently attack the children? Well, from what I recall, these beasts are killing the children and eating their eyes. The more eyes they eat, the longer they can stay in human form. If they eat enough eyes, then they can stay a human and haunt the children in disguises. One of those beasts-turned human was Joacob’s, the main character, therapist. He was taken to a therapist because his grandfathers death was haunting him and his parents think he’s crazy. The therapist lets Jacob’s parents take him to an island that was mentioned in his grandfathers last words. Jacob goes there to uncover the secrets of his grandfathers past. On the island, Jacob falls for a peculiar fire-throwing girl, discovers that he’s peculiar (he is the only one that can see the beasts), and that he has to protect the children.
Now that you have heard the summary, I would like to say a few things. This book was pretty, err, how do I say it, dull? The poor execution of a GREAT idea was very sad. Let me explain. This book, from the looks of it, looks extremely horrific. I mean, a levitating girl! And the pictures! The set came with a small envelope with pictures of the peculiar children and some of the human-formed monsters. They were very scary. I wanted to read this book and be terrified. I wanted to curl under my covers and have that shot of adrenaline. I wanted a real horror story. Sadly, this book didn’t deliver what I had in mind. Sure, the first part where his grandfather died from a monster was pretty scary, but the rest was downhill from there. If I had to describe the amount of horror in this book, it would be at a Disney level. Not a disney movie, a Disney cartoon movie. With Mickey Mouse in it somewhere. That’s how scary it was. The pictures make it appear as a suitable book for a middle-school audience, but in reality it’s really for an elementary school audience.
Another thing that was unimpressive were the characters. The secondary characters were pretty flat. Jacob was by far my least favorite main character out of all the main characters in all the books I have read this year. For instance, look at what he says here, “If I never went home, what exactly would I be missing? I pictured my cold cavernous house, my friendless town full of bad memories, the utterly unremarkable life that had been mapped out for me”. E-X-C-U-S-E M-E?! You are rich and you live in a big house with two parents that love you. Jacob seemed so selfish and whiny to me. First of all, he has a job at a supermarket that he shelved things incorrectly on purpose and acted like an idiot to his boss because he wanted to get fired just because he doesn’t want to be in the family business?! A lot of people would love to have that job just to put food on the table for their family. Also, when Jacob’s parents don’t listen to him, Jacob blames them for being adults and not being able to open their minds to new ideas. Maybe, Jacob, it’s because someone in the family just died and they are trying to cope with it, too. You aren’t the only one dealing with it. If Jacob could realize the he wasn’t the only human being on earth and stopped acting like a three year old, then maybe the book would be slightly more enjoyable. No wonder he has no friends. Well, he did have a friend that walked out of him after this, “What are you, my mom?”
“Do I look like I blow truckers for food stamps?” Jacob, if someone is willing to hang with you when it appears to be obvious that no one else does, don’t treat them badly.
What was something not entirely horrible? I like the images. Other than being misdirecting, are pretty descriptive. They allowed me to imagine the characters in my head as I read this book. They were flat, but it was their powers are what interested me. The diversity among them. Yes, you had your typical invisible boy and fire girl, but you also had you boy with bees in its mouth and girl with a mouth on the back of her neck. I absolutely believe that the cover and added photographs keep this book from being horrible. But then this happened.
In the end, it’s not what I expected from a bestseller. It starts AMAZINGLY but then trails off into choppy flatness. Good effort, Riggs, but maybe work on your “terrifying the readers” skills? This book was not what I expected, but maybe that was because my expectations were too high. I am still going to read the next two books when I get around to it, but my expectations will be much lower. Maybe, just maybe, one of them will surprise me in all the right ways