Is the narrative as odd as the title? Find out in Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Sometimes the weirdest things can become things of beauty, especially when what is normal is juxtaposed to what is considered to be odd. 16 year-old Jacob is both fascinated and disturbed by the weird stories of his grandfather who speaks of real monsters and a mansion of “peculiar children”. After something unforeseen happens, the boy has to discover the truth behind the almost forgotten island his grandfather came from.
Despite being a book for young readers, one shouldn’t make the mistake to disregard the content or style of writing, as both are quite excellently interwoven with photographs. What’s most striking is that these are all real photos the author found on various flea markets or got from friends/collectors. They serve as a basis for the story, and this intertextuality works remarkably well.
It’s in no small part due to the characterization of Jacob who doesn’t come across as too wisecracking or a know-it-all, as e.g. the imho overrated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close showed with a kid who was simply too much to bear. I mention this comparison, because the way both characters discover something about their family’s past with hints and clues of a fragmented mind is quite similar, although Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has more of a fantasy element to it.
There’s also time travel involved, which is always fun in movies. But does it work here? It certainly does, although jumping around in different places and time periods isn’t as fast-paced as you might imagine. Story progression is actually quite slow with 368 pages, and so is character development. Speaking of characters, that’s where the book fails to deliver. Unfortunately, there are simply too many pecular children to remember, each with individual talents, but when one finally meets them, the conclusion is already near, with an unfortunate cliffhanger.
What remains is a recommendable book with vivid imagery in landscape descriptions, well-written dialogues and a genuinely suspenseful and interesting mix of fact and fiction that’s simply unparalleled. If you think it’s just a collection of weird or abnormal people doing strange things, then this will surprise you.
Please check out the trailer as well that will make you so intrigued that you want to watch the real movie… that has actually been confirmed to be made by Tim Burton and 20th Century Fox. The other video is also great, showing the the author’s journey of shooting it. All rather creepy but wonderful stuff.
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