Friday, July 29, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After. Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.
The prologue to Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children provides the reader with the background information on Jacob and his family. Jacob's grandfather was the only one of his family to escape Poland before the Second World War engulfed Europe. He was sent to a children's home on a remote island off the coast of Wales. This home was very different though according to Jacob's grandfather because there resided at the home many children with unusual abilities. Some had the ability to fly, others to lift heavy objects and still others the ability to use fire. Besides his stories of the children, grandpa also told stories about monsters. This was the reason why he had to leave his home in Poland. The home in Wales was a special place designed to keep these special children safe from the monsters. The sun always shone, no one got sick and they were watched over by a "wise old bird".

Although these stories captivated Jacob when he was younger, as he grew older, he came to view them as an allegory for his grandfather's war experiences. What he lived through was so horrifying that he made up these stories so as to be able to tell his grandchildren. But then one night everything changes in a way Jacob could never have imagined.

One night Jacob receives a frantic call from his grandpa. He sounds disoriented and panic stricken. When Jacob rushes to his grandpa's home he discovers him fatally wounded. Sensing something in the woods nearby, Jacob sees a horrible sight that both shocks and terrifies him. After months of trying to cope with what happened and with what his grandpa has told him about his past, Jacob decides he must visit the island where his father spent his childhood. With only his grandpa's last words as clues, Jacob begins his search to understand his grandfather and what he has told him.
"Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."
Jacob and his father decide to visit Cairholm Island, Cymru, where his father grew up, the following summer. Upon his arrival on Cairholm, they rent a room at the tavern and Jacob soon locates the old children's home, now a decaying, crumbling ruin of a house. He soon learns however that all is not as it seems and that his father's stories had more truth in them than he could ever have imagined.

Ransom Rigg's debut novel, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is a brilliant and original story about a group of unusual children and their struggle to survive. It is a mixture of science fiction fantasy and mystery that captivates the reader. The vintage photographs placed throughout add a visual component to the novel which greatly enhance the reader's experience. They help us to form a connection to the peculiar children.

The voice of Jacob is both humourous and engaging. Riggs has done a wonderful job portraying Jacob as a caring, courageous young man who faces up to the strangeness and reality of his unique situation.

In my library this book has been classified as a mystery but I believe it's better suited as science fiction. It is a crossover between young adult and adult fiction and teens who love to read these two genres will definitely be drawn to it.

Below is the book trailer which basically outlines the information set out in the book's prologue:

Having said all this, I'm hoping there will be a sequel. 20th Century Fox has the rights to make a movie of this book.

Book Details:

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 2011
Philadelphia: Quirk Books

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