(review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/26923.html)
This was the November pick for calico_reaction's book club, and I was super excited when it was picked. This book made the rounds on the YA blogosphere and also received a favorable review from The Book Smugglers. The premise of having pictures that directly related to the stories (and creepy photos at that) intrigued me. Other than that, I actually didn't know anything about the story.
Overall, I liked the book. I'm not in love with it, nor am I biting at the bit for a sequel, but it was a fun, though not completely riveting, that had likable characters (though not lovable ones) and a romance that was a little squicky.
One thing that I really appreciated about this novel was its pace. I read it closer to the beginning of November, so my memory is a little hazy, but I remember things moving along at a pretty brisk pace even though it takes Jacob awhile to find the Home for Peculiar Children. Watching him try to figure out the mystery that were his grandfather's last words was interesting though, and surprisingly not very slow-moving. The rest of the story after Jacob finally finds the home is pretty interesting stuff too, but it's nothing I'm jumping up and down about. It was good fun though.
I was actually very surprised by where the Home ended up being though. A time-loop? Interesting. Time travel stuff always makes me head hurt when it's in books and tv shows, because it really does get tricky. It was also weird with how the time-line of where the children were being kept flowed with the ordinary time-line that Jacob was from. For example: When Jacob first goes to the looping time-line, he stays until the very end, at which point the time-loop resets itself. When he goes back to HIS time, several hours have passed and it's now evening. BUT, later on in the book, Jacob wants to meet up with his lady-friend from the Home, but they have to wait until night time for them to meet up. The way THAT was described though made it seem like the time-lines were in sync and ran at the same time, but when Jacob stayed until the end of the time loop, the time-lines were very obviously NOT in sync.
I'm probably not making much sense, but anyway. That really confused me, and frustrated me a little bit too.
The children at Miss Peregrine's home were never really developed. I remember very few of their names, and some of them I don't even remember their powers. This is somewhat forgivable, given that there were a lot of kids at the place, and the lack of name-remembering is probably more due to my school-saturated brain and my overall suckage of remembering names. But I still stand that some of them could have been developed a little more. I did like Jacob though. Watching him grieve for his grandfather was quite sad, especially considering he has no friends. It was equally painful watching his relationship with his father -- his parents are quite distant and cold with him, and sometimes downright passive-aggressive. It's no wonder the kid wasn't the happiest.
Of course I have to talk about the pictures. On their own, some of the pictures are really neat relics. Some of them are just WEIRD, and I wonder why people would want to take pictures of such things in the first place. But how did they work in the story? Well, it's hard to say. I mean, some of the pictures have very obviously been manipulated (I'm not saying by Riggs himself, but by *someone*), so it's hard to keep in mind that these pictures are supposed to be REAL pictures of some fantastical thing going on. For example, one of the pictures is of a boy holding up something that looks like a giant boulder. It's obviously a foam boulder or something, but in the context of the story, it's an ACTUAL boulder. But I couldn't get it out of my head that it was not a real boulder. Again, this is mostly my fault for not being able to really immerse myself in the story I guess. Also, some of the pictures felt like they were forced into the narrative. The picture would be more or less unrelated to what was going on, or it felt like Riggs was trying too hard to make the picture a part of the story.Final Judgment:
I don't think this book will be making my year end list of favorite books, but it was by no means an unenjoyable read. It was a fun story that mostly kept me engaged and had good pacing, even though it took awhile for the fun more fantastical elements of the story to come into play. The side characters could have used some development, but there is a sequel in the works, so maybe that will be remedied. As for the pictures, it was an interesting concept, but I felt like it fell short in some regards. Still though, the pictures on their own (outside the context of the story) are really neat and creepy. I would give a mild recommendation for this book for fans of contemporary fantasy that want something slightly different.