The Youth Adult fiction movement is a train I have yet to hop on. Mostly a genre that does not appeal to me, it was the intriguing cover of a young girl with a tiara floating over the ground, that drew me into reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. After hearing about Ransom Riggs method of composing the story around vintage photographs, it was time for me to try this first installment of the trilogy.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was originally released in 2011 from Quirk Books. The debut novel from Ransom Riggs and the first of a trilogy, earned much praise from critics and reviewers for its creative origins. The film adaptation, directed by Tim Burton, is set for release on 30th September 2016. First glimpses at the film are a little worrisome, with major character changes and Tim Burtons over used style, the movie could hit or miss.
Ransom Riggs, a collector of vintage photographs had intended to release a picture book featuring his collection. Taking advice from an editor, Mr. Riggs began to compose a story using the pictures as a guide. The result is impressive, at first glance, the photographs through out the book have no connection, some uninterpretable. As you follow along the book each seemingly random photo is relevantly interjected, elegantly described and adds unexpected connotation to the story.
Following the mysterious death of his Grandfather, teenage Jacob Portman goes into a depressive state. Certain that his late Grandfather was holding deep secrets from the family, Jacob investigates further. Using old photographs and letters as clues, Jacobs hunt leads him to a small Welsh island. Uncertain if he is going to uncover an old mistress or something deeper, Jacob discovers an old home enveloped in magic full of long forgotten orphans. As more is revealed about the peculiar foster home, Jacob discovers that they may need him more than he needs them.
Around the half way point in the book the plot and genre make a major turn. Going from a dark mystery around a troubled young man, to a fantastical adventure with amazing abilities and wretched monsters. Full of creative magic and brilliant ideas, the use of the photographs pull the fantasy directly out of your imagination. Jacobs first person narrative adds to the struggles and achievements of the layered, troubled teen. The overall plot leaving you with more questions and the ending, while wrapped up, has Jacob facing new struggles.
The characters are all well rounded, despite the lack of opportunity to explore some of the peculiar children further. Ransom Riggs has a strong understanding of the average teenage turmoil, and handles the characters with attentive care. Relationships, and dynamics are realistic especially when young love plays a part. Miss Peregrine herself is a magical, lovely woman that clearly has many secrets to reveal. Emma, the love interest, has a strong adventurous spirit that is a support and at the same time a contrast to Jacob. All the children, who may not be as young as they seem, have their own personalities to match their unique abilities, I am excited to read upon each of them further.
The world created is much bigger than gets touched on in the book, deserving of its sequels. The photographs help to add the overall eerie, vintage feel that the story creates. Giving the entire novel its own unique style that is intriguing and mysterious, drawing you in and pushing your imagination. Progressively the story gets bigger, darker and more suspenseful with every turn and reveal.
Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an entertaining, character driven, fantasy. Most enjoyable for its connection between random old pictures to a world of amazing magic. 3.5/5, for I loved the overall plot, and the non-finite ending is a realistic approach to story telling. This is a book I would recommend to the youth adult fiction fans, and the unique element of the pictures are a great reason to try this novel for yourself.
Thanks booknerds, and lovers of the peculiar.