Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Format: Hardback, 348 pages
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, 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.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.(via Goodreads)
The synopsis above calls the book a "spine-tingling fantasy" and while I wouldn't exactly term it as "spine-tingling" or even an overly creepy book, I would definitely call it a fun, interesting book. It begins with the main character, Jacob, listening to his grandfather Abe's stories about where he grew up in a far off land among the peculiar children, who all had their own special talents. As a youngster, Jake is more than happy to believe these fantastical stories, but as he starts to grow up and begins to encounter opposition to the stories from his peers, he decides he doesn't want to believe them anymore, so it is at this point when Jake tells his grandfather this and Abe quits telling him the stories. But, we are soon to find out that maybe Jake should have put more faith in the stories. The family tragedy the synopsis talks about happens when Jake turns 16 and he has an encounter that makes him finally believe in the monsters and the Peculiars thus leading him on the journey of a lifetime.
The book is fun mainly because it has a wonderful cast of characters. When Jake convinces his parents to let him travel to the island his grandfather told him about he is almost positive he is going to find all these kids either very elderly or dead. But, what he finds is way more than he bargained for. And I would like to tell you more about the Peculiar Children, but I think that might spoil one of the things that makes the book so interesting.
Jake's journey also leads him to learn about himself, as well as his family and what his grandfather was really all about. At the part of the book where we first meet teenage Jake he is your pretty ordinary, typical 16 year old, although he comes from a privileged background. He is bored with his life. His path has pretty much been laid out for him. He will join in with the family business of running drug stores. But, you get the sense that he definitely wants more, but even he doesn't quite know what exactly that is and he has given in to the path of least resistance. But, when he witnesses tragedy first hand and sees the monster that did it, his life is thrown into an uncontrollable spiral that can only end in him seeking the answers to who his grandfather really was and what secrets the mysterious island Abe grew up on holds.
This book definitely felt like a first book in a series. The reason for this being that it seemed the author was paying particular attention to building the world and setting up future conflict than anything else. It definitely has a story to go with it, but when you reach the end you get the feeling that it is the second book that is really going to contain a lot of the excitement and adventure you are looking for. That is not to say this book didn't have adventure. It did. But, again, all of the adventure sort of centered around setting up for something more to come.
The one unique thing this book did have to offer is the pictures of the Peculiar Children. They depicted the children engaged in their various talents. They are delightfully strange and really have a very classic feel to them. There are even end credits as to who the pics are of and to who took them, or at least whose collection they came out of.
Bottom line...I would definitely urge you to give this book a go. It is definitely geared for the more Young Adult crowd, but, I have a feeling that the second book is going to really going to take the story to the next level. At least that is what I am hoping for. The set-up at the end of the book leaves it ripe for continuing on an extremely strong note.