Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

miss peregrines

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

It seems like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of those hit-or-miss sort of books. Its beginning showed a lot of promise with its creepy atmosphere, psychological-horror elements, and a mystery. There was also an inkling of familial love and I was almost certain that I would love it, especially since Miss Peregrine’s was the kind of book I don’t often read but wished I read more of. As the story wore on, I found that Miss Peregrine’s was extremely underwhelming. Though it is predicated on an excellent idea that has so much potential story-wise and character-wise (and I completely disagree that Miss Peregrine’s is similar to X-Men), the story ultimately falls flat.

My disappointments with Miss Peregrine’s come two-fold. First, the secrets behind the mystery are divulged part-way through the book. This isn’t an issue in itself, but the mysteries – Who are the peculiar children? How has their existence intertwined with the main character’s life? – held all the intrigue and all my curiosity. It was the suspense of not knowing, of being on the brink of finally knowing that kept me engaged and interested. Unfortunately, this mystery is unveiled with an anticlimax. Without its mystery and creepiness, the remainder of the book felt hollow, a shadow of what the book’s beginning promised. Even when we come to learn about the peculiar children, there was no strangeness in their existence, nothing that would evoke a curiosity for their condition or their character.

Second, one of my biggest qualms with this book was that the narrative voice was confusing and lacked cohesion. The strong, compelling narrative voice of a boy who had insecurities, ignorance, and an eccentric grandfather whom he loves but feels burdened by regretfully disappears into something much lesser and flatter. Irrelevant the fact that Jacob’s age is disclosed early in the book, for a large portion of Miss Peregrine’s, I truly believed he was twelve. Jacob speaks, acts, thinks like a young child – he even has the naivete of one – so imagine my confusion (and surprise!) when he voiced his hormonal, testosterone-loaded curiosity for the opposite sex. Not that it’s a bad thing to be curious about those things, but the inconsistencies of the narrative made immersing myself in the story a task.

Furthermore, without its mystery, the book loses its direction and precision. For what began as a seemingly creepy psychological horror soon became part-paranormal, part-coming of age adventure, part-historical fiction, part-science fiction, and – perhaps the worst of all – part-romance. That’s not to say that books should be bound to a few genres or themes, but as evidenced by the lacking execution of Miss Peregrine’s, it is a steep task that does not always succeed. There were moments when I genuinely enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s. However, in losing the strangeness, the curiosity, and peculiarity of the book, Miss Peregrine’s is a fumbling mess that is uncertain of its identity – and it really shows in its weakly structured and uninspired plot. Simply put, the story became boring.

The black and white photos, which I understand Riggs and a dedicated team painstakingly procured for this book (and that effort is something I appreciate), are a distinct feature of Miss Peregrine’s. I love looking at old photos, particularly ones that may challenge what ‘normal’ looked like in the past versus now. I was especially excited and thrilled at the prospect of reading a book with old, creepy photos that would intertwine with the narrative and set my imagination alight. And whilst I really did enjoy the photos, well-incorporated into the story they were not. It was clear that the photos steered the story, and unfortunately even the novelty of the photos did not adequately make up for the weak plot. As many other readers have pointed out and criticized, the photos and story felt disjointed and failed to work together to create an excellent narrative.

Miss Peregrine’s is a book that has an excellent concept but struggles to deliver in its promises. It isn’t dark, it isn’t creepy, it isn’t wondrous; it is, unfortunately, quite mediocre, forgettable, and not peculiar at all. Though the ending and cliffhanger seems to indicate that sequels will take on a more story-driven direction, Miss Peregrine’s didn’t really hook me in, and didn’t make me feel invested in the series and its characters. A decent read that entertains whilst reading, but not a series I would be interested in continuing.

Rating: 2/5

Book Information
Book Name: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Book Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in:
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Thank you Jenna at Reading with Jenna for the recommendation!

 

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34 thoughts on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

  1. I am glad I am not the only one who didn’t enjoy Miss Peregrine’s … I think one of my main issues, besides the plot falling flat, was that I could not make up a clear picture of the characters in my head. The way they were described, their age and attitude and the pictures just don’t fit together for me. They look SO young, but they act like teens and they are really 70-100 years? It confused me to no end!
    I was really creeped out in the beginning with the drawing and the photos, but then that just ebbed away. I am still going to finish the series, but as you’ve mentioned, it was really underwhelming. Splendid review! <3

  2. I’ve had this one on my TBR for ages. I love the cover and the idea of using photos in the narrative, but after reading this, it’s getting bumped from my pile. I was really hoping it would be Gothic and mysterious. Thanks for such an insightful review.

    • Hi Margot!
      I too loved the idea of Miss Peregrine’s but I feel it lacks in, well, every aspect of the book. I’ve been told that the story gets better with each installment, which I don’t find unbelievable since the first book feels more like a precursor to a bigger story. I guess it depends whether you are willing to read a mediocre book for a potentially good story.
      Thank you for the comment! :)

    • Thank you Joey! Ohhh, did you write a review about it? I’d love to read it if you did! (And I can’t seem to find your blog through your profile… it’s taking me to a blog that doesn’t exist!)

      I might, but probably not for a long time. I’ll read it if I don’t have much to read or if I ever stumble across the second book! Have you read the sequels?

  3. Oh no T_T I really loved this whole series. For me, it was pretty suspenseful the whole way through and the twist at the end was unexpected and I really enjoyed it. Hollow City is my favourite of the three so I’m sad that you won’t be continuing on. The last two books definitely have better flow and the setting of the books really appealed to me too. (If that convinces you at all XD )

    • I KNOW!! I’m so bummed because I knew you loved it and I wanted to like it too so we could love the series together! I’m glad you enjoyed it though! I just think it wasn’t for me.

      If you think it has better flow and a better setting, I definitely trust your word on that. I might give the sequels a go, but probably not any time soon. :D

      • Hehe yes! Revisit it again one day :D Hollow City is set in 1940s London and I just found the setting to be a lot more interesting than the Welsh island. It’s also not creepy at all so I think it works better because more of the book was dedicated towards developing the plot and action, instead of the suspenseful atmosphere that didn’t work for you anyway.

        • Ooh okay, I think that’ll interest me a lot more. The Welsh Island was so removed from society that the writing didn’t really capture its time very well.

          Okay good! I’m glad to hear it moves away from creepy… it just didn’t work for me at all. :I

  4. Aww, no! There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews on this one. I know some that didn’t enjoy it like you, Kat, and Anette, but then there’s others like Jenna and Jesse (at Jessethereader) that loved it so much. I think I’ll still give it a try eventually since I ended up buying Hollow City on sale at the bookstores. AND WAIT. That girl is levitating?? I had no idea until now!

    • I think you should give it a go anyway, Summer! It might be a hit for you, and that’d be awesome if you enjoyed it!

      Yeah she is! I didn’t even realize until she is introduced into the book. I was like OHHHHH!

  5. I just posted a review for this! We are in book-sync. Well, ish. I actually really enjoyed this book. I found some themes that really appealed to me.

    I do agree with you about the photographs though. I felt weirdly guilty even thinking it because of the work that went into finding them, but they were kind of a distraction. I would read something, create a picture in my mind then turn the page to have it confused by a photograph. It felt similar to the sensation of discovering you’ve been reading a character name wrong. They aren’t quite the same to you after that.

    I’m also not a fan of the romance. I didn’t mind it too much though, because I don’t think they are actually going to end up together. Ending up with your grandad’s ex-girlfriend would just be too weird. I

    • YAY book-sync! ♥
      Wow, I read your review and you made the most brilliant points. I am completely humbled by your review.

      I found Abe and his son’s relationship and that sense of loss he felt when Abe passed extremely poignant. It escaped my mind while writing this review, but now I wish I had given it mention because it was a really sad and profound part of this book.

      I never thought to think about the book in the way you framed it – that life is coming for you. You have certainly given me lots to think about (in a very good way!), so thank you Lydia!

      On photos – yes, that’s how I felt too. I felt like most of the photos were like, “Jacob found this photo, and this is what it looked like.” :I

      I don’t either, but it felt very weird to me. Not so much the grandfather’s ex thing, but it just felt so… strange? Underdeveloped? Out of field? I don’t know, it just didn’t click well with the writing.

      • Wow, thank you! The themes I picked out just happened to fit with a lot of things I’ve been thinking over lately, so they were what most defined the book for me. I think to an extent I’ve just made the book fit with my own perceptions about the world, haha.

        The relationship is classic instalove. When will YA authors learn? None of us like it!

  6. I bought this book after Jenna posted her review on this but now I don’t know whether to pick it up or just put it on display. Haha! Ugh I hate how authors use love as a sub-genre/ as something to hook readers if all tactics failed. But TBH, the book cover is what really sold me! :)

    • I think you should read it, Trisha! It might be a book you might like, and that’s totally cool! You never know. c:

      It just wasn’t for me. The elements of the novel didn’t work together for me, and despite that, I believe there is a reason why people liked it – and I can see why! ^_^

  7. I’m always happy to find other people who didn’t like this book, hahaha. I had the exact same opinions on it that you do. It was just really underwhelming and disappointing. I got the second one for my birthday this year but I really doubt I’ll bother to read it.

  8. We didn’t like it at UntamedShrews, either. We were both so disappointed that it seemed like he wanted to write something about the pictures and the story was just developed around them, and so wasn’t good at all. Glad to hear we weren’t the only ones.

  9. THIS. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here 110%. I feel like this story just wasn’t as dark or creepy as the summary made it appear to be, which is a shame. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much as you hoped you would, but I’m glad to hear I’m not alone! ;)

  10. I completely agree with your review! For such a popular book, I was hoping it to at least have a convincing plot and character development. Unfortunately, you’re right, the character voices were inconsistent, the plot lacked vision and conviction, and immersing yourself in the story was hard work! I honestly expect the movie to be more enjoyable. Thanks for this amazing in-depth review :)

    • Hi Paige!

      Thank you! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I really, REALLY wanted to like it, but. I couldn’t bring myself to. It was incredibly lacklustre.
      I hope the movie will be good, though the trailer confused me! I feel like they made some changes to the book? Ah well. Time will tell. :D

      And thank you for the lovely comment!

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