By now we know what is selling this book is its use of old black and white and sepia tone photos, peppering the storyline with nice visuals, which the author claims have only been slightly altered. It’s what sold me on the book! I read that Ransom Riggs originally wanted to publish a coffee table book that was just a collection of photographs (which he is doing in October – a book called Talking Pictures!), but his publisher urged him to write a story around the photographs instead. The rest is NYT Bestselling history!
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is the story of Jacob, a young boy who refuses to believe his grandfather’s fairy tales about the peculiar friends he had at an orphan’s home on an island back when he was a kid, despite his grandfather having photos of the kids. By the time Jacob starts to believe, it is too late. So, he sets off for the island with his father to discover the truth for himself. He soon finds himself in the company of Miss Peregrine herself and her peculiar orphans, and he becomes wrapped up in a war against monsters to help save the orphans and their very existence.
The book borrows from the super hero X-Men in that the children are peculiar because of their unique abilities or deformities: a little girl can hover, another can control fire, a little boy is invisible, another has extreme strength, Miss P is a shape shifter, and so on. Throw in some time traveling loop set on replay (Ground Hog Day, anyone?) and some rogue deformed peculiars as the villains and you’ve actually got a nice story that gets somewhat left open for a sequel.
The use of the photos is clever. I always looked forward to them in the text as I was reading. There’s a long piece as the climax builds without any photos, and I found myself missing them. They definitely help build on the characters, who are otherwise a bit thin in the text, but I kept reminding myself that this book is intended for a younger age (I’m 36) so character development isn’t always crucial for that mind frame. That being said, there’s some language in the book (a few 3 and 4 letter words), nothing I haven’t heard my teen nephew say but they did make me frown a bit.
All that aside, I fully admit I bought this book for the pictures! Ha! But the “articles” weren’t half bad either. Looking forward to the next, Mr. Riggs!