A book inspired by quaint, absurd and surreal photographs is adventure enough. Riggs has cleverly spun a tale of "otherness", and the various troublesA book inspired by quaint, absurd and surreal photographs is adventure enough. Riggs has cleverly spun a tale of "otherness", and the various troubles that plague those who do not fit so neatly into the human idea of "normal". An adventure it truly is, where dense fog gives cover and giant monsters, creatures of an experiment gone wrong, give chase. Humans, peculiar ones, find fragile solace in a time loop of serene, dreary eternity. Jacob, our young protagonist travels with his father to a remote Welsh island, hoping to understand the mystery that shrouded his grandfather's life. His guide is the photographs and a letter addressed to Miss.Peregrine and the location of a children’s home on the Welsh island.
Jacob grows on you, from a traumatised teenager with scarce regard for the adult world, to a brave hero battling monsters. An instantly recognisable teenager, torn between loyalties and grappling with big words like seduction and true identity, although it seemed to me that he resolved, a rather complex dilemma too easily towards the end of the book. I wish Riggs had gone a little slower there, given our hero some respite from snapping jaws and flicking tongues, to meditate.. if that be too strong a word for a teenager, then let us say, allow time for experiences of a large scale to sink in. But then again, slowness is so unbecoming of grand adventure, at least for the young.
The book is action packed but the mid section, really my favourite part of the book, is an exploration of the tentative blossoming of love, friendship and trust. Riggs is at his best here, making the most of guarded teenage behaviour in a soup with so much vulnerability. The result is a charming narrative, child like and seriously confused. Although more suited for a young adult reader, I enjoyed the book. Riggs has a way of bringing pictures and words together. I have, generally speaking, not very favourable feelings about mixing different media, except of course with comic books and graphic novels. In my opinion, random graphic exploration interferes with straight forward story telling, unless the author is master at both, which unfortunately is a rare talent. Most recently I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I enjoyed reading the book but I found the graphics disjointed and gimmicky. It added little to the feel of the novel and only proved to be an irritant. Where as in The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time, by Mark Haddon, the drawings complemented the text, in a way that made us better understand the workings of the Christopher's mind. In Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Riggs has made the photographs a necessary part of the novel. The photographs are clearly from another time. They work as memorials for the distant unknown, fictitious lives that need validation.
Riggs plays with a number of ideas in the book, the time loop, death fantasy & adventure, otherness, freaky descriptions of landscape; a narrative in itself. It is a mixed bag of ideas, used simply and effectively. The depth is really in the characters, even one such as Joyce's father, who is support cast really, is well worked out. A good read, especially for young adults. It is a welcome change from vampires in love or squabbling greek gods!...more