Review of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books
352 pages

This book is what I would call fantasy and adventure. It’s a bit like the X-mencomic book and movie series because it’s about people born with unique abilities, who live in a special school, and who have to fight against others with similar abilities. But it’s different because the heroes of the story are teenagers, there’s a whole lot of time travel involved, and most of all, the public doesn’t know anything about the characters’ peculiar abilities. Also, every day at the children’s home is the same day: Sept 3, 1943. It’s the same twenty four hours over and over again; never September 4, never the 5th. Oh, and by the way, on September 3, 1943 the Germans bombed the island where they live.

Jacob Portman is the main character of the story. He is a typical sixteen-year-old teenager; there’s nothing about him that makes him stand out against most of his peers. When I think about it now, his character is rather wooden. But when I read the book, he didn’t seem that way at all. I know that doesn’t make sense. It’s as if his environment and everything that happens to him gave him a personality. But, he’s also the narrator and the focus of the story.

Then there’s Miss Peregrine. She is the headmistress of the children’s home. She reminds me a bit of Ms. McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. They’re both strict but kind, always know what’s right, and act like caring aunts to the children. There are also other important characters in the story, with many with neat abilities, but you’ll need to read it to learn about them.

I really like this book because the plot, which is basically good versus evil, is not too complicated or too simple and moves forwards at a steady pace. The writing in the story is very descriptive, and works well with the pictures. The pictures, like the one on the cover, are old black and white photographs that actually inspired the book. The author explained at the end of the story that he likes to collect old photographs, especially ones that are unusual, and then created a story around his favorites. The photos all have an aspect to them that’s not exactly menacing, but not friendly, and are perfect for this story (you can check out some of his other photos on his website (scroll down to the “found photographs”); these aren’t digitally altered like those in the book, but are still strange and interesting).

After I read the book, I saw the movie, which recently came out.  I was expecting the movie to follow the book more closely than it actually did. While there are basic similarities between the two, the movie actually tells a rather different story. Some of the differences bothered me a bit, especially when two main characters were swapped around. But otherwise, the movie is well done.

I really enjoyed this adventure, and recommend it to anyone aged 12+ who likes unusual adventure stories. By-the-way, this book is the first in a series of three books.



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