Every time I flew anywhere throughout the past year, I would see Ransom Riggs’s novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, on all the best seller shelves. Of course, by the time I returned from wherever I’d gone and made my way back to the library, I’d forgotten that I wanted to look for this book.
The funny thing is that I didn’t realize that it was a young adult book until I couldn’t locate it in any of the places with which I was familiar at our library. I finally had to ask a librarian, who led me into a section I’d never gone to before…the children’s section. Needless to say, I immediately began to give serious reconsideration to my decision to read this book. Not because it was a young adult book, mind you. I have several young adult series in my library, from the classic Narnia tales to Harry Potter to the His Dark Materials trilogy.
But the last time I tried a young adult book? It all ended in tears. And broken molars. And a deeply seared hatred for vampires. And a severe disdain for popular young adult fiction.
Luckily, however, Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children are far and away superior in every way to Bella Swan and her gag-worthy gaggle of shimmery emo-pires. Plus, Riggs gives readers honest-to-goodness actual strong female characters. For that alone, he deserves much praise.
This also wasn’t a bad book. I can understand why it remained on the best seller list as long as it did. It’s a tale of adventure and fantasy and, although it admittedly takes a bit of time to set up the story and the subsequent action, the setup itself is enjoyable. Plus, Riggs adds an interesting new dimension to his novel by using real photographs from many moons ago, writing them into his tale as if they were taken of these actual characters. I really liked that aspect of this novel. I thought it was clever and refreshing and brought the characters that much further off the written page and into true existence.
Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel a great connection with this story world. I don’t know why, but it never drew me deeply enough into its world to make me want to return. I think it was because I realized as I neared the end that the first novel was setting me up for a sequel, and I balked mentally at that. Again, just like I didn’t realize this was a young adult novel, I also didn’t realize that it was the beginning of a series. I guess I should have automatically assumed that though. These days, you gotta have a sequel!
(Thank you, Stu.)
I see that Hollow City, the second novel from this series is now out. I also see that Hollywood has picked up the first novel for movie-fication. According to Riggs, Jane Goldman is writing the script and Tim Burton will direct. I’m intrigued by Goldman as screenwriter. She did botch The Woman in Black a bit, but I enjoyed her take on Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and her script for X-Men: First Class was, indeed, first class. As for Burton directing…Helena Bonham Carter will make a lovely Miss Peregrine (you know I’m right…she’s in every damned Burton movie!).
Final Verdict: I don’t know if I want to keep reading this series of books. However, I also feel an obligation to support a young adult book series that features strong female characters. I’ll probably keep an eye out for this to hit the library and give it a go.