Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
I loved this book! I am a big big fan of tall tales, and crazy imaginings, secret worlds that are different and full of magic and wonder. The best part of this book were the old creepy photos that were written into the story - Riggs would describe the characters looking at them, and it was so hard not to prematurely flip the page to look at them. I had such a difficult time not doing this! But I did force myself to read to the end of the page before turning it. This book reminded me of Big Fish, in the sense that the real becomes exaggerated into something a little more than it should be. Or so you think. (insert eyebrow waggling here)
Jacob, the main character, was very close to his grandfather, who would tell him stories of his past, about when he lived on an island where it was always sunny, and the other children there could do extraordinary things. As Jacob grows older, he doesn't believe in the stories as he did as a child, and sees them as his grandfather's personal revisionist history, rewriting the tragic events of his past. Later, when his grandfather traumatically dies suddenly in front of Jacob, and with a cryptic message for Jacob, Jacob goes a little batty. In an effort to help Jacob heal, and for his own father to pursue his own strange interests, Jacob's parents allow him to travel to Wales to trace his grandfather's journey and stories.
(Reading beyond here will reveal spoilers...)
Here he finds more than he ever imagined - he finds that his grandfather was not just prettying up his past, that it was all true. The peculiar children and Miss Peregrine did in fact exist, and by finding them, Jacob may have put their existence into danger.
I loved Jacob and his grandfather, as much as I disliked Jacob's parents. Jacob's dad wasn't as bad as his mother, but he didn't seem like he had ever grown up, or cared too much about Jacob. He had moments where he acted like a father, but most of the time he could take Jacob or leave him.
As I mentioned, I loved how the photos were written into the book. I love that the author looked at these pictures, made them characters with a history and a future and personalities and motivations - made them real and interconnected. It was genius in my opinion.
I loved this book, and I hope there are more in the future. I don't really know how this would be accomplished, but I hope that it can be done. If you liked Big Fish or any story with some exaggeration and magic, this book is for you.