Carol. 's Reviews > Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
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's review
Dec 30, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: urban-fantasy-ya, time-period-fantasy, male-lead


A story that seems somewhat young and incompletely conceived, perhaps one might say, odd. Unfortunately, I had to return the ebook reader (a trial to see if I'm the ereading type), so my concerns are from memory of a brisk read. Frankly, the story is a little messy. The idea of stories from photographs is wonderful; the trouble is that such old photos are better integrated with another age, not a modern one. Just imagine, if Houdini had a Vegas act now: it would fold within weeks on an age that has fed on David Copperfield and Criss Angel. Peculiar isn't able to transcend time and still maintain the wonder of a simpler kind of magic of floating girls and growing plants; Riggs finally has to resort to a fireball-throwing girl to truly amaze us. Peculiar wants to be both magical and real, historic and modern, and succeeds at none.

When the connection with an orphanage bombed by Nazis came clear, I wondered if Rigg's was setting up a disturbed psychological horror story, with "monsters" standing in for Nazis in the grandfather's eccentric mind. Maybe he was deluded all along, and the only monsters there were were the human ones? Alas, both the voracious hallowgast and Nazis were equally real. Like the book, I had the equally odd reaction of being both intrigued and annoyed--intrigued by the potential exploration of "real" and "imaginary," but annoyed by the use of Nazis, which seem have become cinematic and literary shorthand for evil. It was disappointing that Riggs did not feel confident enough in either opponent and he had to overwhelm the children with both. I can almost hear the blurbs shouting in capital letters: "Orphans!" "Impossible Odds," "Omnipotent Evil," "Dismembered and Mutilated Sheep," and "Nazi U-boats!"

The youngness shows through in the basic assumption that these "kids" could be seventy-eight or a hundred and eighteen, or whatever age they are, and still have the personality of nine-year-olds, when by rights they should be either creepily strange or psychotic. Really--if one lived fifty years, in the exact same day, over and over again, wouldn't they get a little crazy? (I mean, Bill Murray unhinged after only three or four days in Groundhog's Day). And having the lead peculiar girl, Emma, (view spoiler)

If only I had not read this on a first-edition e-ink book, I might have better appreciated the photographs. I almost feel like I'm missing a crucial element, after reading through some of the other reviews. This is one book that should be avoided in small screen black-and-white. As such, it was probably more two and a half stars. Inventive in an amateur patchwork quilt kind of way.

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Reading Progress

December 30, 2011 – Started Reading
December 30, 2011 – Shelved
December 31, 2011 – Finished Reading
January 4, 2012 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy-ya
January 4, 2012 – Shelved as: time-period-fantasy
January 4, 2012 – Shelved as: male-lead

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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Coralie David Copperfield and others of his kind were more than likely inspired by the legendary Houdidi....If Houdini had an act ibn Vegas now I'm sure he would have moved with the times and be all glitz and glamour too.....There are many of us who are fascinated by such photographs as these in the fact I would hazard a guess that the viewing of at least some of these types of photos caught the imagi8nation of the author and encouraged his search to find more such images and write a story around them..I found it cleverly done, personally.

Carol. Interesting. What ended up making it 3 stars then, Coralie?

Coralie Well, as much as I enjoyed the book, Carol the story wasn't one I would read over again....Many books are enjoyable, entertaining and a pleasant way to pass the time, but to me a four or five star book is one that I just had read over again in the near future... Not many books I read reach that standard for me, but I have read the same book twice in one month....It was The Three Miss Margarets and to me...that was a five star book. There have been others as well, but that one tops my list.... But having said that, I must add that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will stay on my book shelf...I won't be trading it in at the book exchange...I enjoyed it more than enough to keep it handy. :)

message 4: by Clouds (new)

Clouds It's a book I've looked at a few times, but not been quite convinced enough to put in on my lists.

message 5: by Carol. (last edited Apr 06, 2013 12:13PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Carol. Clouds wrote: "It's a book I've looked at a few times, but not been quite convinced enough to put in on my lists."

I know it has fans, Clouds, but I don't recommend it. There is so much more to read!

message 6: by Krycek (new)

Krycek Carol, you make a very important point about e-readers, IMO. For me, the experience is quite different from paper books. I am by no means a luddite, nor do I bash e-readers (I have and use one) but paper books for me are visceral, more real. Photos and illustrations are important considerations, but I also attribute quite a bit of significance to typeface and paper quality, for better or worse.

Aside from the photographs, do you think your reading experience would have been different?

Carol. Krycek wrote: "Carol, you make a very important point about e-readers, IMO. For me, the experience is quite different from paper books. I am by no means a luddite, nor do I bash e-readers (I have and use one) but..."

Such an interesting issue, Krycek. I just didn't care for ereaders. This experience was on an early Nook, so I haven't tried the paperwhite versions, or the Fire. But in black and white e-ink, i miss the texture and light on the page. Now that I think about it, light does not hit the paper evenly, and you are right, different papers are a different experience. Reading Roger Zelazny from a 1977 edition is very different than the deluxe thick paper in a Lani Taylor book.

message 8: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Carol wrote: "Krycek wrote: "Carol, you make a very important point about e-readers, IMO. For me, the experience is quite different from paper books. I am by no means a luddite, nor do I bash e-readers (I have a..."

I love e-readers, but not the way the light glares on the screen (I'm used to angling the book so the light falls on the page!), the awful justification, the ugly font, &c &c. However, I'm saving up for a paperwhite because I hear that's better....

Matt Matics I have an ereader (several, in fact - I keep upgrading as the technology improves), but this is a book that needs to be read in the paper version. The photos are an integral part of the book. Without them, it would have been just a poor man's Harry Potter rip-off.

Carol. I'm not entirely sure that is true for me, Matt. While the photos are fascinating, their very "old-timey-ness" implies a sensibility that didn't fit with Nazi Uboats and flame-throwing children. I think it sets up a story for a creepier, subtle version than the author was able to achieve.

message 11: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Matics Ah, but you assume all the children went there during WW2. But that's when Abe went - many of those children would have been there much longer.

Carol. I think you just agreed with what I was saying, although I'm not assuming anything beyond the general period-feeling of the photos.

message 13: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Matics See, I connected the pictures with the movie 'Freaks' so the timing was not an issue for me. And at least one of the characters, Enoch, was described as Dickensian, so I understood that even though they were caught in a 1940 loop, the children originated from different times.

What I really liked was the notes at the end of the book where the author says that the book was inspired by the pictures. And honestly, the plot was kind of weak, so I was more interested in the pictures and the various peculiarities they demonstrated.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I wasn't impressed with this one either. It was just boring. There was nothing magical or creepy about it for me.

Carol. Agree, Khanh. Like the photograph idea, but a thoroughly underwhelming story and storyteller.

BTW, I just checked to see if it merited one of your awesomely thorough reviews. Alas, it didn't!

Annie Ryan Great review!

I liked this book for two reasons. First, I loved the IDEA of it. While I was reading it, I was thinking of how I would go about writing in new characters based on creepy photos that I have loved over the years. The creepy Santa picture was my favorite and I would make him the enemy of all of the peculiars.

The fact that I read an article about Tim Burton and the making of the movie is my second reason. I'm all about Tim Burton and I can't wait to see his take on this freakshow.

Carol. Thanks, Annie! And glad to see you at goodreads! I agree, the idea of it is fabulous. And when I heard that Burton was the director, I thought that was a brilliant choice. If anyone can capture eerie, it's him.

message 18: by Apatt (new)

Apatt The Tim Burton's movie trailer looks good though
Hopefully it will improve on the source material.

Carol. I agree, Apatt--I just saw it. I think it will improve it a great deal. Love the visuals already.

message 20: by Athena (new)

Athena Great review! I read it recently in book-form so I think that might have improved your experience slightly, but overall your take on it is spot-on. Peculiar is the right word, especially for the Emma angle.

Carol. Thanks, Athena. Yes, I think paper would have improved it... slightly. I think this might be a case where the movie will outshine the book, as I suspect they'll ditch the Emma angle and minimize the time spent in normal land.

April Not commenting so much about Miss Peregrine's... although I agree with your review, even if I gave it 3 stars (liked the beginning, by the end just didn't care)... but since you mentioned Groundhog's Day, I think it's interesting and not very well-known that Harold Ramis once said he imagined Phil relived that day over and over for something like 10,000 years. Obviously we didn't see all of that, so what seemed like a few days may have been a bit longer :)

Carol. Ah, Groundhog's Day. Such a classic. I really under rated Bill Murray for a long time.

message 24: by Caro (new) - rated it 3 stars

Caro M. This book was a bit underwhelming.

Carol. Yep.

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