I gobbled this book up so quickly! It surprised me, because the first time I encountered it years ago, I flipped through the pages, looked at the giant font size and all the pages with photos and thought, ‘Hmm, this is way below my reading level.’
That statement is rather odd for me to make because I gravitate towards young adult fiction. I think many people do. But anyway, this time, I felt a spark, so in my cart it went. By that evening I was already 4 chapters in.
Ransom Riggs has created a great little world through the help of vintage images he and others have collected. The story and characters are woven out of the black and white visuals and there is something powerful about reading the description of a character and then flipping to an image of him/her. Somehow, combined with the fanciful and other-worldly aspects, it grounds the idea that such humans/creatures do exist in our world.
The protagonist, Jacob, is bored with his humdrum life as a teen in a wealthy family that dwells in the suburbs of Florida. He is certain he doesn’t fit into the mold of expectations that are cut out for his future. His desire is to be displaced of an unsatisfactory future career in the family business.
His life changes in the blink of an eye when his grandfather whom he is close to calls him in a frenzy. His parents have ruled out Grandpa Abe’s antics as senility, but Jacob goes to check on him anyway. What happens next opens the door to a whole new world as Jacob pieces together clues from his Grandfather’s words.
The reader is introduced to a headmistress, Miss Peregrine, and her flock of peculiar children. They all posses special abilities which make them “peculiar” to the world around them and unfortunately make them prey to dangerous beings.
I was shocked to find a decent amount of strong language in a book targeted for the 11+ crowd. There is language that alludes to sexual references which would make me uneasy recommending it to anyone under 16 (to be clear, there is no sexual content). I also found that Riggs expects his reader to be quite knowledgeable. He references a variety of complex concepts and verbatim that pleasantly surprised me but didn’t quite seem to fit the voice of a 16 year old kid from the ‘burbs. For instance, he uses the word ‘humping’ which youth today would allude to something else entirely, but is a terms of military origins for carrying the breadth of your belongings with you. Some of the vocabulary requires seeking out definitions for – things like: homunculus, lanai, interloper, inoculate, and parapet.
Overall, it was a wonderful read and I enjoyed every page of it. It was enchanting, legitimately creepy, and engaging.
I’m very excited for the film adaptation coming out later this year, but now that I’ve read the book, I see one major change to the story and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I will, like all other movies from books, take the film as a whole different beast with creative licensing.
Here is a poster for the upcoming feature:
And now I’m off to buy the sequel, Hollow City!