Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

I have to hand it to Random Riggs.  He found a hook, and he used it well.  If you have been around the blogs, or walked through Barnes and Noble or even Target, or read Entertainment Weekly, you may have been sucked in, like me, to this book with the creepy pictures.  Vintage photographs of children that cannot necessarily be explained (floating figures, nightmarish clown children), or at the most mundane level, photos that seem to have a story behind it.

Turns out, these pictures are real, collected by Riggs and others, and inspired the seed of a story in Riggs' mind.  It could have been a dismal failure...one of those great concepts that never got off the ground.

But not this time. Riggs made it work, even to the point where he attracted the attention of the movie studios.  Miss Peregrine is headed for Hollywood in 2013.

Synopsis:  Jacob has always had a strong bond with his grandfather, who, over the years, has entertained him with crazy stories (and pictures) of kids who floated, were invisible, and had two mouths.  Kids who, he said, were his childhood friends in an orphanage on a small island near Wales, where he lived throughout WWII.  Jacob has always assumed these tales to be fanciful.  But when the grandfather tragically dies, his last words to Jacob are a request to go back to that island and the orphanage to learn the truth.

So Jacob and his father travel to this island where there is no electricity, only generators, one phone, and one dilapidated, bombed-out orphanage.  Initially perplexed by what he could learn in such an ill-gotten place, Jacob soon discovers something very old and very dangerous that not only killed his grandfather, but could put his life in jeopardy as well.

My thoughts:  I guess I expected what everyone else expected...spooky pictures = spooky story.  Hidden behind these pictures was an unbelievably clever world consisting of evil creatures, time travel, and an island, unblemished by modern conveniences, that comes to life on the page.  There is also a coming-of-age thing going on as well, which adds a dash of sweetness and charm.  Frankly I was completely disarmed by everything this book had to offer. 

Also, superficially, but important to those who love paper and ink in all its forms, is what lies on the page.  Not only are we treated to the photos, but there are hand-written drawings, colored pages, scrolly-scripty designs at the bottom of every page, and heavy paper stock upon which it is printed.  This is a sensory experience.  So don't buy it on your e-reader. 

The world that is created here could send this book into a sci-fi category, but don't let that scare you off.  I don't consider myself to be a big fan of the genre, but I never gave this a thought as I was immersed in the adventure.  The book is also categorized as YA, and I would let my kids read it.  There was some language, but nothing too shocking.  Despite genre niches, however, it rises above them all to be enjoyed by everyone.

As you turn the last page, you might smell an overwhelming whiff of sequel set-up, but Riggs is confessing to nothing.  I'm keeping my eyeball on him though...

4.5 out of 5 stars    
  


27 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm amazed at how clever some authors are these days at creating a story visually as well as with words! This book sounds like fun! I'm wondering how it will translate onto the big screen.

Beth F said...

I need to get this. I rejected it at first as being too scary for me but now I wish I had accepted a review copy. Grrr. I'll have to go buy it.

If can believe it, there is an audiobook copy of this. I can't imagine....

Zibilee said...

Ok, you convinced me! I had not really wanted to read this book, but after taking an extended look at it at Target the other day, and now hearing what you have to say about it, I think I DO need to read this one. It sounds really weird and creepy and those are two things I like very much! Great review today, Sandy!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't know - I'm sort of afraid this is too creepy!

farmlanebooks said...

I saw this for the first time in some of the newspapers 'best of 2011' lists but you are the first blogger I've seen review it. I am very curious about this one. I'll get a copy if I see it in my library.

C.B. James said...

Going to my local library website right not to check this one out.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I am loving these new books that have visual elements to their stories as well as the written word. I have this somewhere...my daughter swiped it when it arrived. I need to find it and get it read! Your review has me wishing it was here with me now so I could start it right away.

reviewsbylola said...

I am glad you loved this one too! I was completely enchanted. I had no idea this one would be hitting the big screen. I look forward to it!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I bought this book specifically for the RIP Challenge and couldn't get to it in time. I think I'll dive into this one shortly. Those pictures freak. me. out.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I agree this one wouldn't work as well on an e-reader. It's definitely one you want to read a hard copy of.

Ti said...

Is this a kid's book? I have been passing it over thinking it was for the young set.

Melissa said...

I've been up in the air on this one...got in line at the library though!

softdrink said...

Yeah, well my eyeball rolled at the hint of a sequel. I was not a happy camper.

Melody said...

I've seen this book around but didn't pick it up. Now after reading your review I feel I should!!

JoAnn said...

I've been avoiding this... but now wondering if I've made the wrong decision.

Anita said...

I have been on the fence, I love the cover, and I'll admit I'm a sucker for a great book cover. Now you have me really interested.
Great review Sandy.

Marce said...

This is everywhere, I did pick up recently that I shouldn't download, glad you put that in your review.

I do want to have the full experience at some point.

Alyce said...

I was wondering if this one would be too creepy for me, because I don't read scary creepy books. I don't mind intensity, but I don't like anything undead or ghostly. So do you think I would like this one?

The Bumbles said...

Well doesn't that sound cool?! A sensory experience from the literary world is always fun. Thanks for the recommendation.

Amy said...

Your review and some others I read have totally sold me on this book which I initally wasn't sure I wanted to read. I really appreciate and enjoy an author who writes a story that's clever and different because so many books have similar stories or start from a similar place and branch off. This book sounds very unique and intriguing. I also love that you get a little something extra reading the paper copy!

Thank you for another amazing review, Sandy!

Melissa said...

This is next on my TBR pile!!!

♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Jenners said...

I keep deciding NOT to read this and now you go and change my mind again. But no Kindle version, eh?

Jeanne said...

I don't read scary books at all, but I didn't find this one that creepy. I did find it kind of contrived to fit the photos, though.

Jenny said...

I didn't care for this one as much as you, but I do agree it was a sensory experience! And it wasn't bad... I did enjoy it.

Anna said...

I've paged through this book and the photos are super creepy! I hope the story lives up to my expectations, but I'm not happy about the sequel thing, especially since I hear there's not much of an ending to this book.

heidenkind said...

This book's use of photography intrigues me. I haven't picked it up yet because I always feel buried by books, but maybe I should move it up the list. :)

Kathleen said...

I bought this and am so excited to read it. I thought it would be perfect for RIP challe ge next year but I don't know if I can wait.