-from Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
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Using (generally eerie) vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs weaves a supernatural tale visually in addition to the traditional written word of a novel. Jacob Portman's grandfather has always been a little kookie. Grandpa Portman was sent to an island during World War II where he survived the Holocaust living amongst other child refugees, so his crazy stories have always been forgiven. However, his stories about the peculiar children with whom he grew up and the monsters who are after him only become more desperate with age. When tragedy strikes, everyone is quick to write Grandpa Portman off as a crazy old man; but Jacob is curious to find out just where his Grandpa is from and if maybe he wasn't so delusional after all.
It's difficult to review this book without alluding to spoilers, so forgive me if I'm vague and this review is short. The biggest draw of this novel is the incorporation of vintage photography used to tell the story. I really found this fascinating, creative and helpful in imagining the strange world Riggs creates. The photographs are often extremely creepy, especially in the beginning before the characters are placed into context in the story. I especially love that the characters matched with the photographs retain the original names alluded to in the photographs' titles. This made the story feel especially realistic and plausible.
This book is full of themes of identity, true to most teen fiction. I especially enjoyed the categories of a person being "Peculiar", "Normal" or a "Monster". Similarly, the question is posed whether we are all extraordinary and how we use our abilities. These themes and ideas, coupled with the dry humor made this book more interesting and enjoyable than the darn and scary novel I was anticipating.
Overall, this novel is not something I would ordinarily read. I'm not really into paranormal or fantasy and not knowing what to expect made the beginning particularly slow. But in the end I really enjoyed how Riggs broke apart the stereotype that "peculiar" is negative or useless. I wasn't sure if this would be a series I would want to continue after the first installment, but after finishing this book I immediately went off to find a copy of the second book, Hollow City. It may not have been anything I was expecting or thought I would enjoy, but I'm glad I read this book and that it expanded my reading horizons.
Bottom Line: Even if you don't like fantasy, paranormal, or "creepy" books I still recommend giving this series a shot to get you into the "peculiar" mood of Halloween! 4.5/5 hearts.