Sunday, July 15, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

You can also read this review over at SVT Publishing by clicking here!

I will admit that this isn’t the first time I read “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs; it was actually the second time around. I’d first read it last year, right before its publication as a free Advanced Reader’s Copy that I’d picked up at my local indie bookstore. The vintage photographs peppered throughout the pages were enough to pique my interest, and I brought the novel home. I was hooked on the story from the very first page; the beautifully quirky characters and fantastical plot so intriguing that when I finished it I immediately turned the book over to my best friend, a confirmed fantasy lover, and told her that she just had to read it.

I began working at a local library earlier this year, and was reminded of Miss Peregrine and her brood of peculiar children after I saw the book pass by our circulation desk. Knowing my friend had yet to return my own copy, I checked out the library’s copy and immediately got reacquainted with this intense, page-turning story.

16-year-old Jacob Portman is an ordinary teenager who longs for some adventure in his life – much like the personal adventures his grandfather Abe claims to have had in the stories he regaled Jacob with as a very young child. Jacob and his grandfather have always been close, and when he was little Jacob believed all of his grandfather’s stories to be true. But as he matures he comes to doubt that the imaginative tales of multi-tongued monsters, magical children, and an enchanted orphanage are even true – and that the stacks of unusual old photographs his grandfather kept were nothing more than manipulations. Jacob resolves himself to the fact that everything is a cover up for his grandfather’s horrific childhood as a Polish Jewish refugee…until the night he witnesses his grandfather’s death. It is then that Jacob’s life gets turned upside down and he finds himself on a journey to the other side of the world where, with the help of some new and interesting friends, Jacob embarks on a series of dangerous adventures that allow him to finally solve the mysteries of his grandfather’s life and death once and for all – and learn the truth about his own life as well, all of which turns out to be unlike anything Jacob could have ever imagined.

For a first book I found Ransom Riggs’ debut novel an excellent effort all the way around. The well-written story combines the perfect balance of dialogue and narrative, and the characters of Abe, Jacob, Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children are full of depth and beauty that allow them to be believable without going over the top. And the vintage photos interspersed throughout the book – hulled from real vintage photo collections – lent themselves well to the story. All of these elements combined create a novel that is totally unique and one-of-a-kind -a novel that you’d be remiss to pass up. So I urge you to stop by your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs – I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

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