Thursday, July 14, 2011

YA Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Often in my career, I've come across photographs.
Some are left between the pages of donated or returned items. Others still are found on library floors and tables; accidental droppings from the purses and pockets of patrons. I stare at these photographs and am unable to thrown them away because I feel as though I'm discarding the lives found within them. I find myself imagining who the people are, and how they felt during the scenes I'm eavesdropping on, but never have I constructed such an enchanting and haunting tale as this one.

From found and collected photos , Ransom Riggs has pulled together an adventure that appeals to a range of my interests. Multiple times within this story, I found myself feeling as though I'd discovered a land that was the perfect mix of Percy Jackson, Pan's Labyrinth, Through the Looking Glass and others. From the very first chapter, I realized that I wouldn't be able to rest until I'd devoured this tale of loss, love, family, adventure and history.

In present day Florida, Jacob Portman is dreadfully normal. He has no exceptional talents, save for his ability to evade the bullies at school. He has no outstanding family legacy, except for the fact that his mother's family owns all the Smart Aid pharmacies in the state. He spends his time trying to stay under the radar, while spending time with his one friend, whom he shares a mutual tolerance with.

But years ago, when he was younger, Jacob's time was much more exciting.  Those days he spent listening to his grandfather's stories. Tales of monsters and a home where no one grew old or ever died.There was a girl who could produce fire, a girl that could fly, and a brother and sister who were powerful enough to hoist boulders. But more enchanting than these stories, were the pictures.

However, as Jacob grew older, he began to doubt Grandpa's tales, and question if the photographs weren't just skillfully crafted parlor tricks. Learning that his grandfather had escaped Nazi's during the Holocaust, Jacob decides that these stories are merely Grandpa Abe's way of coping with the great loss and fear he endured.

And then the impossible happens. Grandpa Abe is attacked by the "monsters", and Jacob is a witness. With his last breaths, he tells Jacob that he must flee to where it is safe and find the house he told him of in his stories. In his quest to honor his grandfather's dying wish, Jacob is thrust into an adventure that turns everything he thought he knew about life, love, and his family, upside down.

My Thoughts

What is perhaps the best part of this book is the fluid and realistic way the author introduces facts and characters. His descriptions were so vivid, that you'd find yourself imagining what a picture would be like, only to turn the page and find that he was thoughtful enough to actually give you one. The photographs were haunting but beautiful and added to the story much in the way of those found in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This world became even more real to me because the photos were authentic. I doubt regular illustrations would have been as effective.

The storyline was linear, but so many twists and turns erupted that I felt like I was being treated to five or six stories all in one. These carnie-like, peculiar children were endearing and made me want to figure out what my own peculiar talent could be. I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, tales with a twist, and stories of family secrets.  While my library classifies the book as YA, I think there is something for all ages that can be found here.

This book was AMAZING.  Go read it.  And when you're done reading, start saving your pennies for the movie, because FOX has already purchased the rights to it.  And I have to admit, it was practically BEGGING to be made for the big screen.  Even the trailer was cinematic.


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