Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

27 June, 2012 Reviews 18 comments

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1
Published by Quirk Books on June 7th 2011
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, 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.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I liked it but it had some major flaws in it that dragged the rating right back.

I feel decidedly unsatisfied after reading Miss Peregrine’s. When I went into the book I was expecting something vastly different to what I got. I had been misled by the blurb.

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, 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.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows

The above is the blurb of the book taken from Amazon Kindle. Now in my opinion, the book that that specific blurb is selling is awesome. But Miss Peregrine’s isn’t that book.  My problems with the book, whilst they might appear mundane, made me feel detached from the reading experience. The first of them being “A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage.” Cairnholm isn’t mysterious… it’s Welsh, there is a difference. The orphanage wasn’t abandoned… It was bombed. There are some pretty fundamental differences between what the blurb said and what was written.

And as for the writing, well how can I put this politely… It needed going over with a fine toothed comb to wheedle out all of the fuck ups. Let me paint you a picture with words. There is a country, bordering England, called Wales. This is a beautiful country of rolling hill, heather covered peaks, slate mountains and, in the countryside especially, farmers. These are, for the most part, good people. People who use phrases like “taking the piss” to mean a jest, a jape, a general jokey happenstance. They use the term “taking a piss” when the males go to a urinal. There is a huge difference in context. So when I’m reading and a character says “I was taking a piss” I thought “ew, the dirty fucker why not use the lavvi” only to be told they meant a joke… Research fail on the authors part. If he had asked a Welshman about this he would not have fucked up.

The story started out strong. It was reading very much like the ghost story I was expecting until it was revealed to me, the reader, that Miss Peregrine’s is a special place, for special children, led by a special adult, whilst being hidden away from the rest of the world. At this point I headdesked… Hard. The story had gone from a well thought out, atmospheric, tense ghost story… to a generic “we’re speshul so we’ll hide” story, a’la Harry Potter, X-Men, The Worst Witch, Animorphs, Vampire Academy… the list goes on (One aspect that did redeem it for me was the time travel through loops, that was actually a nice touch there). I didn’t see any indication, either in the tone or the writing itself, to suggest that maybe the children had been quarantined on the island either. OK maybe they could’ve been seen as dangerous but they aren’t really any more dangerous than a regular person.

As the story progressed though, it managed to rebuild the sinister tone that the author had so effectively destroyed with one swift revelation. The children were at risk and they weren’t going to take it lying down. But as the story got better, the writing got worse. There were missed words, clumsy structure, inconsistent pacing (due to factors I will go onto in a moment) and some truly, glaringly obvious, revelations that were obviously intended to shock the reader.

The pictures were the reason that the pacing was inconsistent. The story would start flowing, it would build up momentum, and then I was treated to a lengthy description of the pictures, and then I was shown them… after having them painstakingly described… Now I’m sorry but in the quiet words of the Virgin Mary “come again?”… If I’m having the pictures described to me, in detail, in the prose then why do they need to punctuate it with their presence? How can a reader be expected to carry on with the same flow when the mood has been killed more effectively than a steel toed boot to the nards? They were unneeded and added nothing to the story. They should be axed. Completely.

However, I did enjoy the story when I got my teeth into the meat of it. It was almost original. It had a strong start and an almost strong cliffhanger for the next book (which I probably will read despite all the problems with this book). I just feel that if Ransom Riggs (I suspect a pseudonym because no parents are that cool) had actually done a little research rather than build the story around these found photo’s then it could have been something truly wonderful, where as right now it falls into a decidedly “meh” category. I’d read it again to refresh the story but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to any serious readers.

I was lied to by a blurb… again… I expected far better.

Happy Reading

Archer

This review was previously posted on Goodreads and has been adapted to the blog.

Archer

Archer

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Archer is a scouser currently residing in Australia, yes he does realise that he is about as far from home as it is possible to get. He enjoys reading anything that can hold his attention for more than the first chapter and he doesn't really care what genre it is either. Reading has been something he has done since he was a child and it is still, in his mind, one of the best ways to kill time. Outside of reading and writing book reviews, Archer is a serious gamer and he reviews the games he plays when he gets a chance. He is also a very keen amateur photographer, an enthusiastic cook and enjoys spending time watching films and essentially trying not to stress. Find him on GoodReads.

18 Responses to “Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs”

  1. Keertana @Ivy Book Bindings

    First and foremost…welcome to CuddleBuggery Archer! 😀 Fantastic review!(: I’ve been hearing a lot of different opinions on this novel and although I’m still not sure whether or not to check it out, I won’t be fooled by the blurb! Plus, if the writing is as you described it then I can’t see myself liking it very much. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled you joined CuddleBuggery and I look forward to your future reviews! 😀

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings
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  2. AshHadAns
    Twitter:

    I read this book and thought the same thing. It could have really been an epic read, one of my favorites, but it was just missing something. I felt it wasn’t as good as its potential was. Great review, welcome to the blog! I look forward to reading more from you!
    AshHadAns recently posted…What we’ve been up to! Part 2My Profile

    • Archer

      @AshHadAns: Thanks AshHadAns. I’m looking forward to writing more. I think it was missing quite a bit atmospherically. I can see what the author was aiming for, but he could quite get the tone. Glad you enjoyed the review

  3. Kayto

    I felt much the same way, with the exception of the photos. They were why I was interested in the book in the first place, and I loved how they were worked into the story. But then, I heard about it from others, including that the photos were unaltered–something the book itself never actually told me, I think. Without the pictures, I would have thought the story not as interesting.

    On the other hand, I agree wholeheartedly that they messed up the pacing and the descriptions were often redundant. Was never able to quite find the right words, though, so thank you for that!
    Kayto recently posted…Hungering for Books After The Hunger Games?My Profile

  4. Lissa

    A lovely review to kick off your officially joining the Cuddlebuggers.

    I’ll probably read this in the future, if only because I am fascinated by these photos, but I do not expect great things.
    Lissa recently posted…Camp NaNoWriMo Update (1)My Profile

  5. Ellen Faith

    I am seriously starting to get sick of blurbs twisting the story around to make it more interesting. I get blurbs are meant to sell, but come on! Blah.

    Great review, Archer!

    Although I’ll still probably read it because I’m curious like that damn cat.
    Ellen Faith recently posted…A Week In Book Reveals {2}My Profile

    • Archer

      @Ellen Faith: Thank you Ellen!

      Yeah this was a serious case of the blurb selling a different book… and doing it very, very well. I know that there will be people out there who will enjoy it, but to me it wasn’t what the blurb sold.

  6. Kara @ Great Imaginations
    Twitter:

    Ummm, this is a great review. While I didn’t agree with everything you said, I definitely understand where you are coming from. It’s definitely not a perfect book. It’s flawed but overall I enjoyed it.

    I agree the research needed work, but I really loved the writing. I didn’t mind the excessive description. But that’s kinda my thing and I know it doesn’t work for everyone.

    Anyway, welcome to Cuddlebuggery. You seem to be fitting right in. 😉
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Book Review of Long Lankin by Lindsey BarracloughMy Profile

  7. Tien

    Congrats on your first post 🙂

    The cover is creepy and I will not be reading this book from this alone (yes, I judged books by the covers all. the. time.) :p

    Sorry to hear it’s not as creepy as it was made out to be though!
    Tien recently posted…Wacky WednesdayMy Profile

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