I have a very ordinary taste for antique photography, you see, the most bizarre and inexplicable, the better. So it’s not a surprise that the premise of this book – a story told by interlacing bizarre pictures with peculiar explanations – has attracted so many people. But this ‘mixing of fiction and photography’ was done too harshly to my liking.
“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life,
but my life was never ordinary.
I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”
The book starts with Jacob being shown some of these creepy pictures by his grandfather. The stories of the portrayed peculiar children amaze him and inspire him to seek out a life of wonder and unusualness. But this routine gets a little old by the third or fourth time it’s retold. Most characters seem to walk around carrying old photographs, and several variations of the phrase ‘and then *someone* showed me a picture‘ are repeated all over the book, followed by a page displaying said picture.
I also think that at some points the inclusion of the photographs feels like a gimmick to attract a broader audience. Some of them don’t even interlace with the narration and portray people that are not mentioned in the story, except for the little explanation of their peculiarity.
These ‘peculiarities’ are nothing new either. There’s the girl in the cover with the peculiarity of levitation, there is someone with super strength and someone who turns invisible. And basically we are led to infer that this is an alternate universe were mutants exist like in X-Men.
Thought the prologue makes a great work by establishing these facts in an eerie way, by the time Jacob starts his own adventure and goes looking for the peculiar children, the tone of the book has changed completely. The atmosphere often feels too modern and quirky to match the classic pictures. There’s not a single scary or creepy enough moment.
“He made a grab for me, but slow and drunk is no match for fast and scared shitless.”
Once the mystery of the peculiar children in the pictures is revealed, the story goes from YA to almost childish.
I do love children books. As long as the characters and the plot don’t feel dumbed-down. Sadly, Miss Peregrine’s characters often lack personality and seem to be defined only by their peculiarities.
Plot-wise the book is entertaining, there’s the mystery of the old home for children, the moral debate about their way of life and the reason they seemed to be quarantined. Though it ends on a cliffhanger, so there’s no resolution for the most interesting predicament.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the movie by Tim Burton, since I think the trailer captures the feeling of the story. I would also recommend it to fans of children paranormal stories / people with special powers.
For anyone approaching this book because of the creepy pictures, beware. I think Miss Peregrine’s abuses of the overlooked creepy photographs market. Instead I would suggest another book by the same author, Talking Pictures, a collection of antique found photographs.
I’m not sure about reading the next book. Would you recommend it? Have you read the entire trilogy? 🙂