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