Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Booknote: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books, 2011. ISBN: 9781594744761.

Find at your local library (via WorldCat). 
If you wish to acquire from the publisher (Quirk Books. The publisher is also offering free excerpts of the novel if you wish to sample it).

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is Ransom Riggs' debut novel. This was a book that I really wanted to like given all the positive media and reviews, but I found it to be slow reading, especially at the beginning of the book. Until Jacob gets to the island and starts awkwardly exploring the ruins of the children's old home, nothing much of interest really happens after the grandfather's death. I got into sixth chapter, and I honestly had a hard time staying attentive to the novel. Jacob is following clues from his grandfather's old photos that lead him to the island where the home is.

In addition, the novel also suffered from what a lot of fantasy YA novels often do: the protagonist's  parents' insensitive incompetence and the fact that the ordinary world is boring as hell.  You can't wait for him to leave the mundane so things get interesting. I can appreciate the wonder that Riggs is creating, but it does take a while to get there.

The photos are certainly an excellent part of the book. In fact, at times I wish there were more of them. The author manages to coordinate the photos with the novel very well, and this is certainly a great element and asset of the book, adding to the sense of wonder. However, some of the prose was just too long and slow, making me wish this was more a photography book and less of a novel. In the end, the best parts are the photos, the children, and the hidden world that Riggs develops.

Overall, I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

I did like it, but it had issues that keep me from rating it any higher. At times, the book just felt too long in spite of the good parts mentioned. I can certainly see the appeal factors. Readers who like Rowling's Harry Potter series, C.S. Lewis Narnia series, and some of Neil Gaiman's works will probably enjoy this as well. It is certainly a book that public libraries will want to acquire. Some academic libraries may want to add it to their recreational reading collections and/or their YA collections. In spite of my personal reservations, I will likely order it for our YA collection here.

There is a sequel out now, Hollow City (link to publisher page), which promises to go more in-depth into the world of the peculiars. If I read it, you will get my review here as well.

Disclosure note: This is where I tell you that I got this copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review in order to keep The Man appeased. 

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