Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Miss Peregrine's Review for Peculiar Children: A Review of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a trilogy by Ransom Riggs about children who have been gifted with extraordinary powers (the Peculiars.) The books are Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City and Library of Souls. There is another trilogy, a separate story altogether, in the works. As normal, the first book does a great job at setting the scene. Hollow City builds on what came before, entangling us in a complex mystery and introducing us to other aspects of the peculiar world. Library of Souls ties up the overarching story of the books, but leaves enough unexplored about the world of the peculiars for more books to be appealing.

I love books where the protagonists discover a hidden world within ours. From Harry Potter to Wonderland to Narnia to Neverwhere, this has influenced my childhood reading and beyond. The world of the peculiars exists within yet separately to ours. Many are hiding out inside loops, time pockets where a period of time is repeated over and over again. There are even peculiars that travel to various loops as time tourists. But as with most books like this, not everything is as it seems.

One of the most notable things about these books is the use of photographs. Impressively, they never manage to head into the realm of gimmicks, but serve to illustrate the story in the same way drawings do. A picture tells a thousand words, remember. I also highly recommend reading the interviews at the end, where Riggs discusses the process that goes into deciding what picture he should use at various points in the story.

As for characters, Jacob often feels like a plot device protagonist, but I don’t feel it’s through any fault of his, just that the supporting cast are so colourful and varied. Emma is lovely to the point where I often wished she was the main character, and the rest of the peculiar children have complex backstories and interesting powers. Jacob feels plainer, by contrast. The cast have a wide variety of powers, too. One of the more interesting powers that one character has a colony of bees living in his stomach. You have your regular powers, fire and super strength, for example, and some more unusual ones, such as the aforementioned bees or the ability to give life to dolls. And the bee ability even ends up helping them out on occasions. That last one is a creepy as it sounds. It’s a nice touch not to see something different then the same few standard superpowers.

For an American, Riggs writes British characters better than most. I actually stopped once to look up his nationality just to make sure. However, in the second book, there’s a part where the character’s end up at a London station. I remember thinking “Which London station? There’s so many.” It also didn’t sound like any station I’d been to, either, with the objects that are consistent across all UK station being described incorrectly. This is such a minor gripe, but it is one of those things that can bring someone out of a story.

I feel like Jacob and Emma got together too soon. I grew up with series of seven books of will-they-won’t-they, so for them to get together somewhere in the first book makes thing rather anticlimactic, romance-wise. And I found it odd how she didn’t show any misgivings about having, at one time, been in love with his Grandfather. Nonetheless, they do make a cute couple. I’m not complaining that they got together at all, just that it happened early in the series.

Not since Harry Potter have I been so annoyed at the changes from a book to movie. Especially with Emma and Olive's power switching, why did they think that was necessary? However, I liked the fact that it didn't end on a cliffhanger, since there was no guarantee of sequels, and closed the story. I definitely wouldn't recommend the movie as a good introduction or anything, but it was a fun watch, at least.

I recommend these books for anyone who likes fantasy/supernatural stories, especially those with a touch of horror. 

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