Monday, March 19, 2012

Arty - Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

What was that Persy was saying about belatedness? Yeah. Sorry 'bout that. Not that you really care, but still. I'M SORRY, WORLD!

(Yeah. It's late and I'm doing impressions of the crazy hot springs lady in Fruits Basket. It may be the chemicals in chemistry this afternoon.)


I think pretty books get good marketing. Why else would this novel be plastered everywhere? Because the cover and page design is absolutely gorgeous. Very readable. And the pictures inside! Gosh, I want to go to a flea market and find pictures like those, as the author said he did.

But the photos are the book's selling point, because the plot, honestly, is just average. Your typical sort-of-wiseacre, sort-of-miserable MC, Jacob (or Jake? I was never quite sure which he preferred to go by) has an awesome grandfather. This awesome grandfather enthralls Jacob with his 'fantastical' fairytales, then stops telling them when Jacob 'grows up.' And then he dies. Suspiciously. And his death sends Jacob on a great quest to figure out his fairytales and why, exactly, he and Jacob are so different from other people... peculiar, you might say.

It's all very average. The prose is eons more readable than most YA novels, of course. Jacob had a semblance of a voice. And the premise, while a bit hackneyed - children with peculiar gifts persecuted and forced into a life of hiding - is still enjoyable.

But it's just not as impressive as I expected. None of the characters are very well fleshed out, so I, like Jacob at the beginning, went about it with a vague sort of neutrality. I didn't care overmuch what happened to any of them. The grandfather (whose name I forget - again, bear with me) did seem like he would be a pretty cool old guy... but we didn't really get to know him. Jacob's parents are rich and distant - perfect for letting Jacob jaunt off to Wales in order to get over his grief. And, to be honest, I'm not even sure what Jacob's friend was about. I forgot his name, too. But it's not important, because he's only in the first chapter or so. Maybe to show that Jacob's not completely hopeless.

And don't get me started on Emma. The simultaneous weirdness and clichédness of Emma made me want to kill her on her very first page. I kid you not. As soon as the author made her stick a knife in Jacob's back, I thought, Love interest. Give the girl a cigar (I mean, if I smoked, which I don't). Though Emma was certainly the worst, the other characters, especially at the titular home, are known by their functions or 'peculiarities,' not by personalities. It's a cookie cutter setup that made it nigh impossible to get invested.

Aside from the characters, the whole evil 'hollow' thing reminded me of Bleach so much, it was hard for me not to picture Jacob as a much less awesome Ichigo. And that's another thing - the bad guys are, like Emma, incredibly cliché and incredibly weird. And, even though it was almost insanely easy to defeat the bad guys, we STILL have a cliffhanger ending, and, yes, a second Miss Peregrine book is coming. Whoohoo.

The photographs - which are supposedly real, which is really-really awesome! - are definitely worth a look, but unless you're simply a fanatic about 'peculiar children' novels, I wouldn't recommend this one. Which is sad, because I was hoping for something Gothic and creepy... and this book wasn't. Find it at your library and just look at the pretty pictures.

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