Anticipating its very own film that released last week, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was one of the most popular YA books of 2016. It was recommended to me a long time ago, and I finally got around to reading it last weekend to prepare for the film release, but to be perfectly honest, my feelings are mixed.
First of all, full disclosure: I only read the first book in this trilogy. I don’t know if it gets better or worse or really anything about the story post-Book One. That said, I’m glad I read it, but have no desire to continue the series. Purists, please take my review with a grain of salt. 😉
Truly, I loved the idea. Genuine, creepy, old sideshow pictures are the basis for a book about fictional children with special powers fighting off dark creatures from another world? Sounds like the perfect fantasy fix for fall! (Say that five times fast) It would be weird, and mysterious, and a little twisted, but still entertaining and not too disturbing. (It is in my library’s juvenile fiction section, after all.) Hooked yet? I sure was, but that feeling was quickly squashed in the first couple chapters.
Jacob Portman is your average sixteen year-old protagonist—an outsider, angsty, exasperated by his well-meaning parents, and quite fed up with being ordinary. This is fine, great even—now we can watch a nothing special kid grow into himself and become something extra special, dare I say, ~peculiar~. Sigh. Wrong. There was almost zero character development, despite the extraordinary situations he manages to find himself in. It’s one thing to put up with a character’s shallow, bad attitude for the sake of the story’s progression, but it’s another to endure them for the whole book. It’s exhausting!
I felt that the book itself was poorly written, with numerous plot holes and weak characters who were not only unlikable, but were inconsistent in their unlikability, so that their actions were both annoying AND they didn’t make sense to the character. To be honest, I think that was my biggest issue with the book. It felt like a wonderful, colorful, romantically creepy idea, but the execution just left so much to be desired. Maybe it gets better if you read the rest of the series, but I’m just not motivated to stick it out. I certainly don’t regret reading it—few books are ever a complete waste of time, and I’m not trying to be overly harsh—but I can’t recommend it as a must-read. If you’re looking for something fantastical and thrilling and entertaining, better luck next time.