Ransom Riggs’ New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about Jacob Portman, who is not a happy teenager. He has no real friends, school is a bore, his parents are barely parents at all, and his future is both well-planned and depressing. The only interesting part of Jacob’s life is his grandfather, Abe Portman. Abe is a Polish Jew who fought in the later years of WWII. He speaks three languages, knows his way around more than a few weapons, and can tell a tall tale better than anyone.
His tales are mostly about the orphanage on an island in Wales where he was sent as a war refugee. He also keeps a cigar box full of whimsical photographs; one has an invisible boy, another has girl floating, another has a skinny teenager lifting a boulder over his head, and there are many others equally as strange. However, not everything is as sunny as it seems—after a horrific incident Jacob is forced to face his worst fears. Using the clues that his grandfather gave him in his tales and photos, Jacob must find out what made Abe run and who or what he was running from. Grandpa Abe has a secret, and Jacob is determined to find out the truth. However the truth may be just a bit… peculiar.
Possible spoilers ahoy!
I liked this book a lot. The use of authentic antique photographs to help tell the story was an interesting idea.Though if you’re a kid, or are thinking of recommending this book to kids, don’t. There is some swearing and some upsetting images.
At first I didn’t like the protagonist, but like in any well-written novel, I grew to like him at around the same time he grew to like himself. What I really appreciated was how the dialogue was written. Jacob actually sounded like a teenager put in extraordinary circumstances. He is not always brave, or clever, or particularly likable, but he grows over time and it is at a pace that is believable. His character does not change overnight, or only when the plot dictates it. He still makes mistakes, but he strives to be better and to be like his Grandpa Abe. However, who I really appreciated was Jacob’s mandatory love interest Emma. She is a huge part of the novel. Even though she is the love interest, hot-headed Emma is a badass.
Emma refuses to fade into the background. The first time she and Jacob meet, she slams him into a wall and holds a knife to his throat. (To be fair, he was chasing her, and she didn’t know who he was.) She explains some things to him and though they don’t know each other long, they soon begin to like each other. At this point in a novel the love interest, no matter how awesome, would slowly become more and more useless until she was something akin to background noise. However, Emma is a full-fledged character. I was soon wishing that she was the protagonist, but what can you do? I didn’t write it.
Anyway, there are more interesting characters, but any more information would ruin an important plot point. All I can say is this: retro X-Men. Okay, that may have ruined it, sorry. Regardless, it is a great novel, an easy read, and ends on a cliffhanger. Don’t worry though; a sequel is coming out July 2014. So what are you waiting for? Get reading!
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