Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs

Teenage Jacob finds his grandfather dying on the ground, suffering terrible wounds. Before the man dies, he tells Jacob something strange and confusing.
As a youngster, Jacob had listened to his grandfather's tall tales without really believing any of them. But the grandfather's dying words seem to indicate there was some truth behind the stories.
Finding his grandfather dying and getting a glimpse of some sort of horrible creature sends Jacob into a tail spin and he ends up in counseling.
Some of the stories centered on the grandfather's time spent in an orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales. Jacob's counselor advises his parents to take Jacob to the island to help him deal with his trauma and reconcile reality with the fantastic tales told him by his grandfather.
But after arriving on the island, it soon becomes clear to Jacob that the stories were not fantasy. Jacob finds the orphanage, which is an abandoned wreck, having been bombed in World War II.
Further poking around and some encounters with rather peculiar kids reveals a secret world, accessed by a tunnel into the past. Here is where the peculiar kids live, stuck in the day before the orphanage was bombed, and lead by their headmistress, Miss Peregine. All of them have extraordinary talents, including Miss Peregrine, who is a shapeshifter, able to take on the form of her name, a peregrine falcon.
Jacob learns that other such outposts exist, hiding in different locations and times, designed to protect their dwellers from the hollowgasts, vicious humanoids who prey upon the special children and their guardians. Jacob also learns that regular people can't see the hollowgasts. And because Jacob can see them, he, like his grandfather, is also a "peculiar." And also, like his grandfather, he is in danger from the hollowgasts and also a danger to the hollowgasts. Turns out the other peculiars can't see hollowgasts either, only Jacob can.
The hollowgast that attacked his grandfather followed Jacob to the island and it is are intent on destroying the children and capturing Miss Peregrine for reasons of its own. Jacob has brought this doom upon the orphanage and now he has to make a terrible choice: stay in the past and leave his home and family to protect the peculiars or return to the present and leave the peculiars to the doom he inadvertently brought upon them.

This was an OK read. The action doesn't really pick up until toward the end of the book. Seem like a lot to slog through to get to the good stuff. Probably more appealing to younger readers than to an oldster like me.
Also, I had a quibble with the story. The kids have been stuck in the past, reliving one day over and over. They are aware that it is the same day, though. So, from Jacob's time, they have been doing this since 1940, almost eighty years. But Miss Peregine still treats them like kids even though they have eighty plus years of living behind them. Also, they still attend classes every day. Eighty years of middle school, imagine that. The mind boggles. I think I'd rather be killed by the hollowgasts than spend eighty years in middle school. Wouldn't you think, after eighty years, they would pretty much know all they needed to know and tell their Miss Peregrine to get stuffed?

This book is the first in the peculiar children series by Riggs.

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