Saturday, 27 December 2014

Miss Peregrine's House for Peculiar Children

Hey guys!
It’s been a while, but I’m back! :D
Today I’m going to be reviewing ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs.  

Here’s a slight part of the blurb for you:
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I read this book with a friend for my first ever read-along and, boy, was it a pretty good start for it.
I went into this book pretty much blind, I hadn’t read any reviews and I hadn’t heard of anything about the book… the only thing I knew was that it was a ghost story of some kind and that my friend also had a copy.

I really enjoyed reading this book; the story flowed really-really well, for this being the author’s first book I really do applaud him for it.

The first half of the story is set in the United States of America; in this half we are introduced to the main character Jacob being told stories of his Grandfather's (‘Grandpa Portman’) past.
The stories that Grandpa Portman speaks of are about an orphanage that he stayed at in Wales; run by a Headmistress by the name of Miss Peregrine during the Second World War, a house that protects strange and peculiar (Haha) children, children that can create fire with their hands, control plant-life and produce bee’s from their mouths; and not only are these stories so amazing, there are also pictures which help Grandpa Portman emphasise the reality of his stories; though Jacob's youthful/childhood-bound mind always believes them to be fairy-tale stories and allows imagination to run wild.
This was probably one of my favourite parts of the book; the sheer fact that Jacob and the rest of his family brushed off the stories as mere fairy-tales was strangely accurate to real life situations; when we are told stories by our grandparents or great-grandparents we all believe they’re twisting the story to make it more interesting to our ears and that nothing like that could ever happen…

As Jacob gets older, his Grandpa’s stories start to become more fake and long-winded in his youthful mind; he starts to dismiss his grandpa’s stories as nothing more than the fairy-tales that his parents told them they are.
That is until one night; His grandpa phones Jacob in a mad panic asking where the key to his gun-case is and that the ‘Monsters’ are back to kills him…
Here is where the story starts to kick off; Jacob goes with his one-and-only friend Ricky to investigate his Grandpa’s house and finds him in the forest out-back practically dead; this is when he see’s a person just across; this person, or more accurately ‘This Monster’, has tentacles where It’s mouth is and it is moving in an animated/creepy way.
Grandpa Portman tells Jacob in his final and short breaths that the monsters are back and he needs to go back to September 3rd 1940.
After his Grandfathers death, Jacob starts to become distraught with grief and is convinced to see a counsellor; this counsellor (Dr Golan) decides that the best way for Jacob to get over his grief and loss is to dismiss his grandfather’s reality as an old-mans need for attention.

As Jacob is helping his dad remove items from his Grandpa’s house; he stumbles across a small cigar box full of photos from this orphanage and a letter from a Lady called Miss Peregrines… the headmistress/owner of the orphanage that Grandpa Portman stayed at; this makes Jacob believe that his Grandfather isn’t crazy and that everything he had been told and everything his grandfather had mentioned was reality and that there was a place like this somewhere in Wales.

I generally loved this first half, the story was written really well; the plot moved rather quickly but it worked well with the pace of the text and the characters were pretty okay. The whole plot seemed to be a kind of suburban-y psychological ghost story type of deal and I was down for it!
Grandpa Portman was my favourite character in the first half, he was eccentric and pretty funny at times; even in his crazy state he still seemed pretty down-to-earth.
Though my least favourite character was Jacob’s friend Ricky… I didn’t feel like he was needed and that he was just a character added in to make Jacob not seem like the cliché loner kid, which he is…

In the second half of the novel we see sixteen year old Jacob persuading Dr Golan (the counsellor) and his parents to let him go on a summer holiday to Wales, without mentioning anything about the Orphanage or that he is still believing in his Grandfathers stories.
The counsellor agrees that his visit will probably put Jacob’s mind at rest and that push’s his parents decision into an agreement; with the condition that his dad travels with him.
As they arrive in Wales; Jacob and his dad start to see sunken U-Boats from WW2 and when Jacob arrives at the house (Lead by two Welsh wannabe rappers who are hilarious; who won’t go any further than the wood-lands before the house) he finds it to be a compete wreckage from when a bomb fell onto it…
From this point onwards the story becomes darker and ‘creepier’ in a sense; we start to see more parts of Grandpa Portman’s stories and how further from reality they actually are.
Now: I really didn’t know what to think of this book’s shift… It’s like they mixed time travelling with X-men with Ghost stories with a love story…
It’s a strange mix and it was slightly clunky but some of it worked slightly well.

Jacob finds the actual home by crawling through a cairn which is also a , conveniently named, ‘Time slip’ and he is transported from happy future/present day world to the 3rd of September 1940: the exact night that the Germans bombed the Orphanage.
When we meet the children who the peculiar powers; it is generally like Xavier’s school for ‘Gifted Children’.

The story becomes slightly strange and I liked it… a bit?
I mean, I can see what the author did and I can see why he did it, but he did it in such a way that made it seem like he just wanted to throw everything together and make a master piece… it didn’t work that well in that sense…

The worst part of the book was when Jacob, without even deciding on it, left his family behind and stayed in the 1940s with the peculiar children… He said good-bye to his dad who he just left by leaving a picture of his Granddad and his Granddad’s lover from the orphanage.
It really angered me for the fact that he just left his whole life behind because he found some friends… If that was a real-life situation there would be so many decisions and so much time to think about it… but then again, this is a fictional story…

The photographs are pretty awesome and set the mood pretty nicely; some of them you could tell were fabricated but others were generally quite creepy.

The characters throughout the book were all kind of the same in structure; they were funny/sad/happy/depressed/strange/awkward/un-happy/eccentric, etc.
There wasn’t much character development through-out the book at-all…

All in all, I did enjoy this story; but I wouldn’t recommend it to people in a hurry. If you have it on your shelf, it’s a really good read and it’s over really quickly if you fancy a quick read.

Plus it was the Author’s first novel so props to you Ransom Riggs!

Thank you for reading this review guys! :D
Joe :)


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