Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Posted September 18, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 11 Comments

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home

Original Publishing Date: June 7, 2011
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books

Obtained Via: Borrowed from Library
Format Read In: Hardback
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A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And 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 who once lived here – one of whom was his own grandfather – were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason.


Oh book, where did you go wrong? I’ve been curious about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for awhile now, for a myriad of reasons. I’ve heard some good things and some average things from reviewers, but I was still interested, if not a little afraid. You see, I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror stuff, and I’ll be the first to admit it. Yet, the idea of mixed media books sounds SO COOL, and brought me back a few (surprisingly good) Junior High memories.

In sixth grade, I had a teacher who made us do this writing exercise every Friday. She had a collection of weird photographs, and we all drew out of a box. That photograph was ours for the class period, and our assignment was to write as much as we could of a story in which that photograph would play a scene. It was a  really fun exercise and made me interested in the idea of mixing together visual and text to tell a story.

Unfortunately, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children didn’t really live up to the idea I built in my head. The story starts off with a bang–and some spectacularly creepy photographs–but as the story went on, I felt the photographs were more and more less relevant to the story. Whereas in the beginning I thought Riggs did a good job of mixing the media, but the middle I felt the photographs were being forced into the story where there wasn’t really a place for them.

As for the actual story itself, it went on quite a downward spiral. The beginning was WONDERFUL. The first 80 pages of this book had me so engrossed. The voice of the main character, Jacob, was a little different, but it was different in a way I liked, before I started really disliking him. Now, Jacob has been through a lot, obviously, so I don’t blame his character at the beginning, but as the story went on he just became more insufferable. He suffers some from the informed character trait–as is, we’re told as readers that he has a certain character trait, but I never actually saw any EVIDENCE of him having that character trait. He wasn’t an awful main character, he just wasn’t very compelling either.

As the page numbers grew higher, however, and some of the mystery vanished, the story just became. . . unfocused. Suddenly, instead of being this different and sort of creepy tale, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children became just like the few horror stories I’m familiar with. There were a LOT of tropes I’ve seen used before, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I just didn’t feel this book offered anything different in this genre. I was so entertained at the beginning, but by the middle I kept thinking, “Hmm, I feel I’ve read a story similar to this before”.

Also, the romance in this book: EW. So Jacob, our main character, is on this creepy island where all these weird things can go on and is surrounded by peculiar children, and decides he needs to flirt with a peculiar girl that his GRANDFATHER was in love with at his age. This does not scream romance to me at all, and is probably the main thing that made this book slip from the “likable” range to the “not-such-a-fan” range. Now, there are some more things about this relationship that I can’t really say without getting spoilery, but basically, just yeah, ick.

Final Impression: I thought this book had a really strong beginning, but once things actually started being revealed it went rapidly downhill. I liked the way Riggs used voice and I’ll probably read more books of his in the future, but not in this series. Jacob was a hard-to-pinpoint main character who began to have a really creepy romance that I just couldn’t buy into, and I thought this book used a lot of over-played tropes without offering anything new. The mixed media format was cool, but I think the pictures could have been incorporated in a way that showcased them more and fit the story better, especially towards the end. 2/5 cupcakes.




2 Stars

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11 responses to “Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

  1. Shannelle C. (The Tracery of Ink)

    I also disliked how it just trails off. It’s such a pity, because Ransom Rigg’s writing has a certain quality to it that I just really enjoy. But then, we get to the island, we get Miss Peregrine, goodbye nice-ness of the book.

    • stormydawnc

      Same! I’d heard mostly good things about the book before reading, but just wasn’t a fan. And yes, the romance was really disturbing.

  2. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book and I was thinking of picking it up. I might still do that, but your review has made me think. I’m not sure how I would cope with the format, to be honest, and the romance aspect does seem a little off. Definitely a library option.

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I’d chose it as a library option. I hope you like it better than I did if you get the chance to pick it up!

  3. Wow, what a cool idea for an assignment that your teacher had! I can see why that would have drawn you to this book, for sure. I agree with you, though, about the photographs having less and less important to the story as it went on. Your review mirrors my thoughts and feelings about this book pretty well, although I don’t think I was as engrossed in the beginning of it as you were. The story just didn’t enthrall me, and yeah — that romance? UGH.

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I honestly don’t remember who my teacher was that year or anything else in the class(except, oddly, how the desk were arranged), but I remember those creative writing assignments. And yeah, the romance was just. . . NO. Once that came about, I was constantly being pulled out of the story.

  4. It’s a shame that the pictures started to felt forced. I really like the concept and I think it could have turned out great if he used it differently. And the romance sounds.. weird. I’ve seen some more books with such romance and it never works out of me.

    • stormydawnc

      Yes, I agree, the concept had so much potential! The romance was. . . well, ick is still the word that comes to mind.

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