Monday, September 19, 2011

Not As Peculiar As You'd Think

It was the cover that got me--Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children had the most intriguing cover.  Combined with the photos scattered throughout the book, it was just irresistible.  And the author's name is Ransom Riggs--how awesome is that?

I ended up enjoying the book, but not the way I expected to.  Most of the things that I was drawn to turned out to either not amount to anything or actually be the weaker points.  I expected something kind of mysterious, odd, mystical.  While there was a sense of mystery here, the story was told in a very straightforward way. 

Jacob is a teenager in Florida, living a fairly typical life and very close to his aging grandfather.  All his life he's listened to his grandfather's stories about his childhood being chased by monsters and his life of travel, but Jacob's come to understand that these stories are really about his grandfather's experiences during the Holocaust.

Then his grandfather dies, suddenly and violently.  Jacob is plagued by nightmares, and follows his therapist's advice to trace some of his grandfather's history to try to understand what happened to his grandfather, both long ago and when he died.

The photographs throughout the book are charming, but there are definitely places where they seem to be crammed into the story a little.  There's also a stretch in the middle where there are quite a few Knowledge Dump moments--two characters have a conversation where fantastic elements are defined, explained, and laid out, complete with interesting names, historical references, and explanations of alternate physics. 

It gets a little clunky in places, is what I'm saying.  But I'm also saying that I really liked the main character--I liked that he was innocent and scared and gutsy honest.  I liked how the forces of evil gathered around the edges of things and then advance in a rush.  I liked the setting, on a picturesque island off the coast of Wales. 

I couldn't decide if the ending was a first-book-in-the-trilogy cliffhanger, or if it was more of a then-they-went-off-into-the-wide-world-for-adventures launch into the characters' future.  I don't know which I hope it is, either.  If there was more to read, though, I'd absolutely read it.

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