Louise's Reviews > Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
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First off I want to state that despite giving this review only one star I did not hate it, neither, however, can I in good faith rate it as 'ok'. It wasn't ok, it was a total mess, but lurking in the first few chapters there was the potential for a good book - if only the author had been more concerned with the writing than the pictures.

The book's Wikipedia page says 'This children's book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring photographs Riggs had collected, but on the advice of an editor at Quirk Books, he used the photographs as a guide from which to put together a narrative.' and you can tell. The photographs aren't used to illustrate the story so much as the plot has been stretched out of shape to incorporate the pictures. The especially sad thing about this is that I would have loved the original concept - it was the photographs that drew me into buying this book and dissapointment at the mangled plot that made me donate it to charity.

The writing actually starts off well enough. For the first few chapters I was hooked, I even recommended it to my younger sister who hardly ever reads. It was tense, atmospheric, and the use of photographs - presented as once belonging to the protagonists recently deceased grandfather - made sense. However once the protagonist reaches the Welsh island he thinks will hold the answers to all his questions about his grandfather the plot takes a turn into WTFery.

Putting aside the irritating clichéness of the setting - a bleak windswept island that's barely heard of modern tecnology and the even more irritating superior attitude of the American protagonist who has heard of modern technology (such out of reach places do exist, afterall). The plot decided to take a bizare turn from creepy and atmospheric children's-horror -which was what it had been sold as - to (view spoiler)

The use of pictures became increasingly poorly justified as we moved away from ones that were part of the Grandad's collection, and it soon became clear that the photographs were a crutch for both the plot and the writing. Why write a detailed description when you can say one short sentence and then stick in a picture? And then consistency issues within the photographs themselves started to appear too - I gave my book to charity so I can't double check but the protagonist's love interest looked like a different person in each photograph she appeared in and none of them matched the protagonists repeated textual description of her as 'totally hot' (maybe I'm just being shallow there though and if I'm wrong about it being a different girl in each do correct me).

After a very promising start the middle section was dragged out and dull - a cross between Tom's Midnight Garden (without the charm) and (view spoiler) with an unnecessary dose of emotionally disturbing romance. Then along came the ending; an info-dump and an anti-climax leading to a 'to be continued'. Thanks, but no thanks, the gimmick couldn't be sustained past the half way point of one book, let alone prop up a whole series.

I feel bad giving a debut author such a bad rating so some positives:
I really enjoyed the first few chapters, Riggs writes well in the first few chapters and the depiction of a grieving teenager with post-traumatic-stress was well done right up until the point they got to cliché Bleak-Island. If he hadn't commited himself so hard into stringing along a plot purely to including his favourite photographs, Riggs could have written something quite good (or better than this at least).
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Cecily (new)

Cecily I've considered this book several times and read such conflicting reviews, I'm still undecided - but you make a strong case.


Eleni I am in the middle of this book and wanted to check out reviews and see such a range... but I just wanted to write a note to you Louise because all the shelves you have created and placed this book into made me smile today.....I should create some shelves!


message 3: by Cecily (last edited Jun 20, 2012 12:41PM) (new)

Cecily Ha ha. I hadn't noticed the shelving. Thanks Eleni for pointing it out and Louise for doing it.


Louise Thanks. I'm hoping I won't have to use too many of them again (especially 'annoying depictions of Britain' that's a real pet peeve of mine).

I really do hope you enjoy the book more than I did, Eleni. And you as well if you do decide to read it, Cecily.


Eleni I just finished the book this morning Louise as I am concurrently reading the much more incredible Song of Ice and Fire saga (I just finished book three and am on to book four)...I have mixed feelings about Miss Peregrine and need the day to digest those feelings and make them into ideas.... I liked elements of the story but am not sure if I am invested enough to read the series as a whole.... Are you from Britain Louise? I am originally from London but live in the USA now....


Louise Oooh, love Song of Ice and Fire! I've only read the first two so far, going at the glacial pace of one a year because I know myself and I know if I read them all at once and am then faced with a several year gap for the next one that I'll just lose interest and forget most of it.

And yeah, I'm from the UK. Did my degree in Wales too so I wasn't hugely impressed with what seemed like a basic lack of research - I think another review even noted that he used the phrase 'taking a piss' instead of 'taking the piss', but I don't have a copy to check anymore.

I can understand mixed feelings on this one actually, there were ideas and sections that I liked too but they were either let down by the rest of the book or just didn't fit very well together in the first place.


Eleni I admire your ability to pace yourself to one a year... that's a good idea... summer time I have more time to read than any other part of the year because of teaching so I am cramming a lot of reading in now...I know that after I read books four and five I will have a long long wait for books six and seven... but I am hoping I can "bridge" the gap with the HBO series as I have only seen one of two seasons so far.... it's sad when a writer tries to write about a place they know nothing about.... it opens him up for others to take the piss... ! So where in UK are you if you don't mind my asking??


Louise I love the HBO series, though I've seen mixed reactions from people who read all the books first - the first series sticks quite close to the book (within what's reasonable for their budget) but stuff in the second had to be changed a bit more to work.

I'm in Berkshire at the moment. Nowhere very interesting; one of those little market towns about a half-hour's drive from Reading. Wherabouts in the US have you moved to? I think I'd be a bit too wimpy to ever try that!


message 9: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Very off topic, but I grew up in a village a quarter of an hour from Reading and now live in one of those little market towns about three quarters of an hour's drive from Reading! Lovely area.


Eleni I have yet to see the second season and heard that there are a lot of differences compared to the first season which I thought was pretty close to the book.... I live in Pittsburgh PA... known for the Steelers american football team.... it's on three rivers (the Ohio, the Alleghany, the Monongahela).... so do you two know each other? you live so close... I do love English countryside.... American countryside is awful in my opinion (here I would only live in a city; there, I would live either in a city or the country).... thanks for replying/writing back to me...


Rebecca tedder I totally agree, the first few chapters were great with the downfall of the grandfather but it rapidly went downhill from there. Promising start to being a very disappointing book.


message 12: by Sara (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sara Thanks for this review Louise! You've totally summed up my feelings on the book.


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