Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

51 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was disappointing. I say that because I loved the concept of the book so much I expected to be blown away. I wasn’t. I thought this was a brilliant idea told with average delivery.

Jacob is a young man who spends his days mostly trying to get fired from his family’s drug store when his grandfather is killed by a monster. The tragedy sends Jacob into a magical world he had only known about before from what he thought were his grandfather’s own peculiar fairy tales.

He’s seen pictures of “peculiar children,” those born with special magical abilities, but he believes the proof of their peculiarity to be merely the result of clever photography tricks. This is where we see the brilliance of the concept here. The book is filled with photographs that are actually trick pics from darkroom days gone by. A number of them are from the Pulitzer Prize winning Robert Jackson. They are wonderful. They make the book.

We experience the story from Jacob’s point of view, and Jacob’s narrating voice has a whole lot of potential. I started the book thinking that between the award-winning photos and the strong voice, I couldn’t possibly go wrong. That voice was inconsistent, though. The strength and energy that was Jacob’s personality in the first chapter just was not fully sustained throughout the book. It began to disappoint me somewhere along the way until finally I was just ready for it to end. I mean I was ready for it to be over when I was at the parts that should have been the most intense scenes in the book.

Jacob’s story ends at a point that clearly sets us up for a sequel. I don’t think I’ll read the next book. This one had me and lost me. It could have been one of my favorite books of the year, but something was missing. I hope Ransom Riggs finds that something in the future. Anyone who has it in him to come up with such a remarkable concept out to have it in him to improve over time. Here’s hoping…

Also, out of fairness, I believe I should mention that I alternated reading chapters from this book with reading chapters from William Faulkner books. It’s a crazy thing I do, keeping multiple books going at once, and it’s quite possible that nearly anyone would have disappointed me by comparison to Uncle Bill. It’s very possible indeed.

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