I'm going to be honest: I was taken in by the hype and push of this book, and enthralled with the prospect of reading a novel by a prominent member inI'm going to be honest: I was taken in by the hype and push of this book, and enthralled with the prospect of reading a novel by a prominent member in the Steampunk community. My experience with the Steampunk genre (or even dystopian, or post-apocalyptic genres), is having read Scott Westerfield's Leviathan, and Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. So I was excited when I finally got my hands on this book, but then I realized it really was all hype.
I was intrigued by the premise--the world ends and rebuilds in 1908. Society is reformed, technology adapts, and wars are born. Great care was used to build this new world from a writer's standpoint. The people who now inhabit it are diverse and curious, and you can tell much was put into bringing the world to life. It sounds great, but what is presented is a disappointing adventure.
The characters themselves were flat and little changing. A good character is dynamic, has quirks and a past that dictates how they view the world around them, and how they will ultimately change. Not so with the cast of characters in Blood in the Skies. Lizzie Steele is a strong, empowered woman who can fly a plane better than almost anyone, and who just so happens to be slightly flirtatious towards the spy-cartographer, Ray. Beyond these, she's little else. I was glad to finally see the kiss between her and Ray. I'd have liked to have seen more tension between the two. Tension draws a reader onward, even if it's small when compared to the major problem at hand. Ray isn't so much a main character as he is a supporting character. Still, a bit more character building would have brought him more alive. How did he get to be a spy? What are his bad habits? Little things to bring him, and the rest of the cast, off of the page into the real world.
Each chapter, save for a few, is a full blown fight scene. If it fits in with the general plot and actually drives the storyline, then I'm all for it. However, the fighting between Steele and those bent on killing her, got to be tedius. The initial story seemed lost amongst the chase scenes and even during the ultimate showdown between the pirates and the Talians. And it was not until the end that the characters brought the beginning around to the forefront. For a devise meant to change the world, it should have been more prominent.
The zombies... Oh, the zombies. Because they appeared only briefly and with little explainations, they just seemed thrown in because the author could. There was no real reason to bring them into play when they couldn't even add to the conflict of the final battle.
As for everything else, I feel that this book could have done without the artwork. I can't draw, and I'm not going to pretend to know how to critique artwork beyond looking at things through a photographer's eye (which I am a photographer). Still, if artwork was a must, then perhaps consistent artwork would have been better. If not, then scrap the artwork all together, and use your words to draw the image for you. Also, there were typos and missing words galore--not necessarily the author's fault, but nonetheless jarring when you're mid sentence and out pops a grammatical error.
Overall, this book was a struggle. I just couldn't get into it because the story is thin and relies on fight scenes too much. If you're into Steampunk, dystopian, or even post-apocalyptic genres, then it wouldn't hurt to add this to your read list. Just don't be surprised when it doesn't measure up to other stories out there in the same genres....more
I found Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs to be a delightful book. Apparently there is some debate over whether or not thisI found Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs to be a delightful book. Apparently there is some debate over whether or not this book should be classified as Young Adult or Middle Reader, but for me, I'd regard it as Young Adult. I'd be hesitant to offer this book up to a child ten years old or younger, on account of the pictures and some of the events.
For a first book, this does well to set up a world of odd children who possess abilities such as being invisible, floating, creating fire, etc. It opens up a new idea of time travel while touching a bit on faery lore, even if it didn't mean to. The provided photographs--even those that depict a character more than once with obvious physical differences--added a bit of realism that otherwise would have been lost in the imagination. Were it not for the photos, however, it would have been nice to have more detailed explanations of characters and the monsters who hunt them.
The book channeled some creepy moments, especially at the beginning. I was drawn to the idea of a house lost to an endless summer, where children lived and laughed, while under the surface things were scary and dangerous. It felt as though Riggs had drawn on Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, as I kept expecting Miss Peregrine to become some old hag and the children to become withered, monstrous creatures. I wasn't disappointed when such things didn't happen, but glad of it. With the accompanying photographs, I don't think I could have slept easy. (And that's no joke.)
A home or school for special children isn't a new idea, and has been used several times, from the X-Men, to Harry Potter, to the House of Night series. Riggs has taken the obvious teenage angst so prevalent in YA novels these days, out of Miss Peregrine's home, and replaced it with dire circumstances that are befitting a book such as this. Jacob is sixteen, sure. His life is so extraordinarily dull that it takes a trip across the globe to realize his true potential. He is faced with making adult decisions, feeling the downward spiral of mental health, and eventually overcomes the odds that allow him to begin a new chapter. Again, this isn't a new concept, but Riggs has added a different touch to the familiar plot-line. To say that Jacob didn't grow by the end of this first book would be a lie. To say that none of the main characters didn't, even marginally, change, would be an even greater one.
The relationship between Jacob and Emma, at first seems, unsettling. Emma, after all, was Jacob's own grandfather's girlfriend "back in the day," until Abe left for the war and never returned to the home. But their relationship is not as unsettling as Jacob (the werewolf) and the child of Bella Swan in the Twilight series! As Miss Peregrine's continues, the relationship that Jacob and Emma develop seems natural and is refreshing given the fact that there isn't pent up teen-hormones waiting to be released. The act of kissing is innocently described. Their camaraderie is believable and I can honestly say, that by the end, I'm glad they got together.
The transitions between the loop to the current world was easy enough to comprehend without making the idea too complicated. Because of the similarities of faery lore, it was easier to take in the idea of time travel and loops. The threat of sudden, rapid aging if caught outside of the loop for too long, was a nice touch. How this baffles so many readers' minds, I have no idea. The children of Miss Peregrine, are in fact, adults trapped in children's bodies. Yet they act like children, and are referred to as "the younger ones" and the "older ones." Perhaps I see the box from all angles, but their behavior fits in with the ideas of the loop. They may be 80+ years old, but when the day is always the same, would it not be better to live the life of an innocent child than dwell on adult gripes and conundrums?
I felt the monsters-wights and hollowgasts--could have been explained a little better. But if a sequel is in the works, perhaps the vagueness of their creation and "experiment" will be better defined. If this is the case, then perhaps their mysteriousness in this book will make sense. One can't reveal everything in the first book, after all!
It's sad to me that so many feel the photographs did the book a disservice. I felt they were fit into the story well enough, and gave faces to the characters. As a new collector of vintage photos (I look for photos from the late Victorian era to the 1910s), I like to think that I'm giving life to the people within my photos long since dead. For me, I look at the photos Riggs has presented and I see life breathed into them. There are reasons people discard old photos of family members. There are reasons that people collect them. The photos presented in this book have the unique opportunity to be remembered. Why is that such a bad thing?
All in all, I'd recommend this for a young adult or adult. In fact it was recommended to me by an adult. To me, it was a page turner and never a bore. The photographs are disturbing; the writing is well done. I look forward to more books by Riggs and honestly hope there is a sequel on the horizon!
This is more of 4.5, but definitely worth the read. It lost a half point due to editing errors where important words were strangely omitted, such as "This is more of 4.5, but definitely worth the read. It lost a half point due to editing errors where important words were strangely omitted, such as "to" (the most common). Otherwise, this is a beautiful book!...more