I’m a massive book lover across many genres but I have to admit: My reading of fiction has suffered over the past few years.
This has nothing to do — or at least little to do — with getting sucked into checking Facebook on my iPhone before bed instead of reading a book.
The problem is this: I haven’t been able to get past those damn Harry Potter books.
That story transported me so completely that everything else since then has fallen short. I’ve been desperate for a book to pull me in but it just hasn’t happened.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs may have just scratched that itch for me.
But don’t let my HP comparisons lead you to believe that this is a Potter knockoff for a second.
Sure, there are similarities: Children, largely unsupervised, with special powers. Bad guys. A family mystery. Danger and intrigue. Oh my!
But Miss Peregrine is an entirely different animal. (For those literary goons in the audience, yes, that’s some foreshadowing for you, you observant bitches.)
How I got suckered in
I’ve never done an official book review before. But this one grabbed my attention.
I loved the title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
I’m a sucker for alliteration. Especially p’s.
Then the cover had this delicious photo:
What I didn’t see coming is that the book is stocked with other equally fascinating — and sometimes disturbing — images.
And these photos aren’t just eye candy. They’re integral to the story.
Young Jacob, our protagonist, grew up looking at these photos and hearing his grandpa’s tales about the peculiar children in them. Granddad would go on and on about the special powers these kids possessed — the invisible boy, the levitating girl (who graces the cover — did you notice that her feet aren’t touching the ground?) and the brother and sister who had incredible strength.
Granddad supposedly knew these kids because he lived with them for a time during WWII.
And there were other stories too. About monsters.
As Jacob grew up, he decided that his grandfather’s stories were nonsense and that all the “monster” talk was probably referring to the Nazis.
But then grandpa died under mysterious and extremely violent circumstances, prompting Jacob to set out on a quest to unravel his grandfather’s mysterious past.
Golly, I love a pretty book
The physical book is quite beautiful. I’m a book geek so I couldn’t help but notice the two-color print. Nice touch. Also, it’s worth taking the dust jacket off for a tasty little surprise. Quirk did a good job.
And those photos I mentioned? They show up at a perfect pace. Riggs gives an explanation of each — usually right before the picture appears — and these explanations certainly prompted me to spend considerable time examining each photo. While reading the book, I kept thinking that not only was Riggs an imaginative writer, he was also quite adept at creating haunting and beautiful visual images.
However, some of the most mysterious and disturbing images were left unexplained. (Mr. Riggs: Of course there’s a sequel in the works, yes? There are few little ribbon eaters I’d like the pleasure of meeting, mmmkay?)
My little caveat
My only complaint is minor. That is, every now and then there are some awkward details.
For example, early in the story Jacob explores an abandoned house. After a lengthy discussion of the devastated condition of the first floor (which we later find out was bombed out), he goes upstairs to the second floor — that appears to be perfectly intact and structurally sound.
During another key action scene, two people attempt to knock over a rickety structure, only to turn around and attempt to climb it a few minutes later with the hopes that it will hold them.
But that is all minor shite and I’m probably just being picky. I’m a stickler for continuity in movies, too, so perhaps I have some OCD about this sort of thing.
More. Give me more.
When the book ended I felt satisfied, yet hopeful that there would be more to come. Great way to end a book, yes?
However, one of the most tantalizing things about this book was what happened after the story was over.
I turned the page to find an author’s note about the photographs. And then I think I exclaimed something like, “No way, motherfarker!”
And then I had to flip through the entire book and look at every photo again.
I’m so tempted to tell you what the author’s note said, but I wouldn’t have wanted to know myself. I remain silent.
I hear there’s a movie in the works. I can see how this story would lend itself well to the screen.
But my suggestion? Read it first. This book is far more than words on a page — it is an experience. And, as all book geeks know, there are some things that just don’t translate to screen.
Click here to see the website for the book.