I have some personal life anecdotes before we dig into the review, so bear with me.
I recently transferred from my Starbucks of three years, to the store further up the street. It’s where I’m sitting now, clacking away, listening to Soundgarden in my headphones. It’s odd.
The sounds are different, yet very familiar. Espresso grinding in hoppers. The screech as milk starts steaming, and then mellows out to a warm hiss. Blenders and the constant dance of water used to rinse everything. Timers beep from time to time, and I can hear the whir of machinery as it works to pump water through grinds to bring you that perfect cup.
I’ve spent a lot of time in coffee shops.
But, wait, there’s more!
I may be taking a career position at the library. There’s a 3/4 time position opening, and it was suggested that I apply for it. There are a lot of questions to ask, but I’m going to apply.
Which means I’ll be working 50 hour work weeks, and I’ll probably have to step down as a supervisor at Starbucks. And going to school. I mean, I’ve been doing that anyway. Currently I work anywhere from 42 to 52 hours. And I’ve had one day off this month.
So what’s a couple more hours?
Anyway, on with the book review!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a really fun book. It was Book Club newbie Marlene’s choice, and the first book of the Second List. It was a great intro into the new list, and everyone loved it.
But the book is an interesting mixture of old, creepy photographs and storytelling. Supposedly all the photos are real, discovered by Ransom Riggs, and are what sparked the story. Which is pretty awesome.
So, we meet Jacob, who’s sixteen. He’s kind of a brat. He comes from money, and doesn’t want anything to do with it. But, he’s sassy, and I identified with him right away. His home life is a bit… nonexistent. His parents have more or less left him to his own devices, and that’s something I’m very familiar with. But, there’s one shining light in Jacob’s life.
His Grandpa. An old Polish Jew who fought in World War II. That fact alone makes the man a badass. But, he’s also an oddly whimsical grandfather, who raised Jacob on an unhealthy dose of imaginative tales of his youth. Of friends with bizarre abilities and of monsters that put the boogie man to shame.
But, one day, Jacob’s grandpa calls him at work, panicking. Jacob chalks it up to the man’s downward spiral into dementia, especially as he raves about the monsters from his stories coming for him. Jacob is saddened by his grandpa’s decline, and hurries over to soothe the man.
The authorities claim the old man was killed by wild dogs, which have been prowling the area. But Jacob clings to what he saw, earning him months of torturous therapy. Jacob has nightmares of the night he found his grandpa, and the man’s last words haunt him.
But, by pure coincidence, Jacob’s aunt gives him a book from his grandpa’s house for his birthday. And inside is the answer to the riddle that haunted him for nearly a year. It spurs him to beg to go to the Welsh island his grandpa lived on after he fled Poland. To visit the house he lived in with a Head Mistress called Miss Peregrine. After some serious convincing, his father decides to go with him.
Well, the house is nothing but a crumbling ruin. In fact, it’s been that way since World War II. And that’s just one of the things that just doesn’t stack up. No one seems to know anything about the children who lived there, or of Miss Peregrine.
And there he learns that all his grandpa’s stories were true. All the photos of children with strange powers, of Miss Peregrine, and the stories of the monsters were all true.
And it seems like heaven. He spends his days with them, replaying the loop of September 3, 1940, and then returns at night to his father at the hotel.
But, things aren’t as perfect as they seem. The children have been in the loop for over 60 years. They can’t leave and join the present time, because their bodies will wither as if in a time lapse. And if they leave the loop in 1940, they’ll live through the worst of the War. And, they have no defense against the Hollows.
You see, Jacob’s grandpa had a rare and incredibly valuable ability. He could see the monsters, the Hollows, that hunt all Peculiars. And he left the loop, fought in the war, and spent his life blending in and going on “business trips” to hunt the Hollows.
Dude was a BAMF.
But, without him, the children of Miss Peregrine’s loop have been stuck. They can’t see the Hollows, and would be defenseless against them. Except now they have Jacob. Because he saw the monster that killed his grandpa, and only Peculiars can enter a loop.
And of course, he led the Hollows right to them.
So, they scramble and fight, and Jacob manages to kill one, but not before Miss Peregrine is badly injured. And for some reason, she can’t return to her human form. And since she’s out of commission, so is the loop she created. Time in 1940 progresses normally once more, and their home falls victim to a bomb.
So, Jacob decides to go with them. He couldn’t return to his normal life now at any rate. So the children leave the island, their leader stuck as a bird, and venture into the normal time stream again. But, the story’s not over. They have to find a way to fix Miss Peregrine, and free her sisters, other keepers of loops that have been abducted by the Hollows.
And so Ransom Riggs sets up for his sequel, which I’m told is quite good.
What I really liked about this novel was the balance of creep-factor, humor, and romance. One moment you’re laughing at something Jacob says or thinks, or at the antics of some of the kids, and the next moment they’re all running for their lives. And of course, there’s a wonderfully awkward teenage romance. Oh, to be sixteen and in love.
I look forward to reading the sequel, and would recommend the first installment to anyone. It’s an incredibly fast read. Over three hundred pages, and I killed it in two days. And it’s not like I have a lot of free time.
The next book for Book Club is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s the largest book we’ve read, at 507 pages. I haven’t started it yet, since we’re not meeting until August 12th. And I’ve got enough reading going on. I’m reading The Maltese Falcon for school this week, and I’m still chipping away at The Republic of Thieves.
I really need to pace myself.
Anyway, thanks for getting this far. See you soon, Blogland!