April 21, 2012

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine #1
Genre: Science Fiction, YA
Rating: 2

I'm terribly conflicted in my feelings for this book. You see, I was so excited to begin reading. I received this book in a Secret Santa exchange and immediately fell in love with its gorgeous appearance.The hardback version of Miss Peregrine's is stunningly beautiful with its superb dust jacket artwork, inclusion of vintage photographs and letters in each chapter, and smooth, luxurious pages. The publisher succeeded in making the packaging alone worthy of today's high prices. However in the growing cover lust market it seems more focus is being put on making an outwardly beautiful book with less emphasis on the quality of its content. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," could not be truer here and ultimately leads to an experience that is downright disappointing.

The intriguing premise along with the deliciously macabre vintage photos makes for perpetually limitless peculiar plot possibilities. Yes, I'm a fan of alliteration. With this seemingly bottomless well of literary wealth, how the hell did Riggs completely miss the mark? Let me explain.

I'm the sort of reader who loves a deeply visceral and emotionally engaging read. The superficial appearance of Miss Peregrine's along with all the sparkling reviews led me to believe my experience would be like this:
When in actuality, It ended up being more like this...
Scary monsters huh? Cool...
So what happened? The storytelling is at first pleasantly creepy and the inclusion of the strange and disturbing photos made it that much better. I anticipated being drawn  in deeper and waited patiently for the core plot to be revealed. To my surprise, and dismay, the actual action/conflict doesn't begin until the last 100 pages! This subsequently led to the author shoving me down a hill and leaving me with brief glimpses of depth as I tumbled toward the end. The first half of the book sets you up and slowly reels you in with cleverly deceptive photographs that never quite pay off and are often awkwardly placed. This ends up slowing the story down considerably rather than enhancing it. The farther I got into the story, the more I cringed each time Riggs planted another photo op. If that wasn't frustrating enough, certain plot twists happen way too late in the story cutting off any actual character development.

Speaking of characters, I enjoyed Jacob's snarky wit and general dry attitude up until he turns into one of the freaking Hardy Boys (with much less sleuthing ability) halfway though. Jacob takes the express route from charmingly cynical to dauntingly featherbrained. I won't go into depth on the shallow secondary characters and their even shallower relationships with Jacob, but yeah... Very unconvincing to say the least. 

The sporadic and often random spurts of gore miss unsettling and go straight to just plain awkward. I don't mind gruesome details, but if you are going to do graphic then be consistent! The majority of the book is spent picnicking, making out with an eighty year old teen, and arguing the pros and cons of terrorizing a sweet little village in a time loop. So when out of the blue disemboweled sheep (and people) appear, the general impression comes off as an afterthought. 

Finally, I have to say...WHERE THE F*** ARE ALL THE CHILDREN? We are tantalized with creepy photographs of the peculiar children from beginning to end and are introduced to barely any of them! This wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had just gotten even a whiff of the disturbing clown faced twins! There are two separate instances where Jacob finds a picture of them and they are just so damn creepy you would think Riggs wouldn't pass up the chance to use them to his advantage. But no! Not even an honorable mention is made throughout the entire book. Some of the more off-the-wall peculiars are a real treat and helped keep me interested, but this fact alone was not enough to save Miss Peregrine's for me. 

The Final Verdict: A promising premise is poorly executed. If only an actual writer had written this...

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Thanks for such an honest review. I have this one on my TBR list, but I'm less excited about it now. I agree with you, sometimes covers are very misleading.