Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sara's Library: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books 2011

Summary from Goodreads: "A horrific family tragedy sends Jacob, 16, to a remote island off Wales, to the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, where he finds unusual old photographs. The children, one his grandfather, were more than peculiar, perhaps dangerous, quarantined for good reason - and maybe still alive."

I had expected this novel, which includes a number of strange, antique photographs, to read more like one of Brian Selznick's hybrid novels.  However, rather than using the photographs to propel the story forward as the illustrations in Mr. Selznick's novels do, here the photos simply serve to enrich the prose descriptions of the peculiar children and to legitimize the narrative as "true."  While some of the photographs were delightfully creepy and really did add to the narrative, I'd like to see the next installment come closer to being a hybrid.  

The novel moves along at a fairly fast pace, dividing its time between the present and the WWII era past of the peculiar children, which is a continuous loop of the day the home is bombed.  With the pacing as it was, there was little time devoted to character development, which was the biggest disappointment of the book.  Most of the peculiars are archetypes (the brain, the brawn, the dreamgirl) and more seems to be made of their peculiar abilities than of their personalities or histories.  As such, I found it difficult to become invested in the characters themselves, even the protagonist Jacob, who is a more relaxed version of the average shounen anime hero.  

That being said, the idea of combining the plot  X-Men with that of Bleach was an interesting one, as I'm sure many of us have often wondered what it would be like if mutants fought against supernatural monsters.  This first volume is executed well, despite its thin characterization, which will hopefully be improved upon in the next volume.

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