A fascinating synthesis of beautiful story-telling and a collection of vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children exceeded my expectations. Jacob Portman grew up with his grandfather’s stories (and pictures) of monsters and extraordinary children with unbelievable talents. Now convinced by his parents that Grandpa Portman experienced so many horrors in WWII that he used tall tales to cover the pain, sixteen-year-old Jacob has grown out of believing the stories. However, under unfortunate circumstances, Jacob witnesses the aftermath of his grandfather’s murder by a horrific beast. Convinced by his family and therapist that he suffered a psychotic episode under stress, Jacob decides to take a trip to the island from Grandpa Portman’s fantastical stories. At the long-ago-bombed site of the home for peculiar children, Jacob – who may be “peculiar” himself – discovers a time loop in which the children under Miss Peregrine’s watch (the same children Grandpa Portman lived with as a child) live the same day over and over.
When I started Miss Peregrine, I honestly had no idea where the story was headed. But Ransom Riggs directed Jacob’s journey to a mysterious island toward a unique and beautiful discovery that will change his life forever. Coupled with Riggs’ genuine collection of old – and haunting – photographs, the story is about the redemption of a supposed young head case and the terrors he must face: his own sanity, the monsters of his grandpa’s stories, and even the terror of young love. The bad guys from the time loop and in Jacob’s world collide: Nazis, hollowgast, who murder and eat peculiar people, and well-meaning adults; but are met with some incredibly talented, improbable (and extremely old) children, including a girl who can create fire, an invisible boy, and a young man that can see the future.
This young adult novel is not just relevant to young adults. Jacob’s pubescent awkwardness and secret fears of insanity have been privately experienced by every human being, no matter how old. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has fantasy, drama, heartbreak, comedy, action, and an unlikely integration of vintage photos. This novel is everything I wanted it to be and more.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre and bildungsroman novels. This book is sincerely one of a kind. If you like to read, read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.