Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine'sOn The Cover: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Published: 2011

Why I Chose It: I have been intrigued by this book ever since I saw it on a friend’s reading list. What hooked me was the line from the book blurb: “They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.”

The Review:

It was the history aspect of this book that definitely drew me in. I love old ruins, and as an abandoned orphanage, the setting for this book was awesome. I ate up every little detail about the house, and the atmosphere that Riggs creates when Jacob first enters the house is extraordinary. The house has so many artifacts in it, and I absolutely loved the attention that Riggs gives to the smallest details, and how he really creates an experience as Jacob explores the rooms. I also really appreciate Jacob as a character because he is really curious, and he’s driven to discover the story of the house and its occupants.

An interesting part of this book for me was the pictures that are included throughout the novel. All of these are real photographs that the author gathered, and I love that Riggs creates characters directly linked to each picture. The pictures were so interesting to look at, and really added something a little different to the story. I also personally find them slightly creepy, and I enjoyed that they raised the creep factor in the book.

Miss P

The one thing I can say about this book is that it is a solid story. There was always something happening, and it remained interesting from beginning to end. I think Riggs took all the right elements and put them in the right order and came out with a good story. What held me back from loving this book is that nothing really wowed me about it. It was all familiar territory, all elements I’ve heard before. So while there was nothing really wrong with it, I can’t say I particularly liked it. It is also worth pointing out that if the pictures were not part of this book, I would have liked it less.

There are some good elements to this story. Old abandoned haunted houses are always a good setting, and tying in such a colourful history keeps the book interesting. If you’re a fan of old photographs, or of paranormal stories entwined with a local history, then you might like this one.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Miss Peregrine's Portuguese Cover

Quotations:

“And I really did believe him – for a few years, at least – though mostly because I wanted to, like other kids my age wanted to believe in Santa Claus. We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing them becomes too high, which for me was the day in second grade when Robbie Jensen pantsed me at lunch in front of a table of girls and announced that I believed in fairies.” (OverDrive, 2011)

“It was my grandfather’s island. Looming and bleak, folded in mist, guarded by a million screeching birds, it looked like some ancient fortress constructed by giants. As I gazed up at its sheer cliffs, tops disappearing in a reef of ghostly clouds, the idea that this was a magical place didn’t seem so ridiculous.” (OverDrive, 2011)

“I went from room to room, examining their contents like an archaeologist. There were wooden toys moldering in a box; crayons on a windowsill, their colors dulled by the light of ten thousand afternoons; a dollhouse with dolls inside, lifers in an ornate prison. In a modest library, the creep of moisture had bowed the shelves into crooked smiles. I ran my finger along the balding spines, as if considering pulling one out to read. There were classics like Peter Pan and The Secret Garden, histories written by authors forgotten by history, textbooks of Latin and Greek. In the corner were corralled a few old desks. This had been their classroom, I realized, and Miss Peregrine, their teacher.” (OverDrive, 2011)

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The Named – Marianne Curley

namedOn The Cover: Ethan lives a secret life as a Guardian of the Named. Under the guidance of Arkarian, his mentor, and with the help of Isabel, his unlikely but highly capable apprentice, Ethan has become a valued member of this other-worldly corps. As the only defense against the evil Order of Chaos, the Named travel through time to prevent the Order from altering history and thereby gaining power in the present and the future.

As the threat from the Order intensifies, secrets of the past are revealed and villains and heroes are exposed. This gripping fantasy is set in modern times, but is infused with intrigue from the past, super-natural characters and surprising plot twists. Curley has written a winner through to the end.

Published: 2002

Why I Chose It: I had read The Named when I was a teenager and I was curious to read it again and see if I still loved the story.

The Review:

I absolutely love the secret society in this story. The way that Isobel becomes an apprentice and begins training definitely appeals to my adventurous side and I get swept up in the excitement. There are so many good details about training that allows the reader to progressively learn about the Guardians along with Isabel, but it never feels like an information dump or a boring history – the story remains upbeat and interesting as Isabel tackles the next task. Plus the idea that they are working for a greater cause remains strong throughout the book and I loved that there was a bigger picture to the story, making me eager to read and learn more.

A huge aspect of this novel is the time travel, and this is one of those stories that hits the nail on the head. The time traveling aspect is believable because Ethan and Isabel don’t quite understand how it works, and so the reader is not required to know either. I really appreciate that there are established rules about time travel that Ethan and Isabel have to follow, and the suggestion that the greater beings have set these rules in place. Finally, the setting and situations they encounter in the past are completely believable and I really enjoyed the trips to different times.

Finally, I have to mention the love story. This is one of those love stories I remember fondly. There is no love triangle, which wins major points from me, but more than that it’s not obvious, and I love that a love story can catch me off guard and delight me so much. The story is really organic and sweet, and my heart always melts when I read it. But as great as the love story is, it is not the main issue nor does it take over the story, which all adds up to a really well-balanced novel.

I enjoyed this story a lot when I was younger, and I’m happy to say I still enjoy it now. This is just one of the really great adventure stories that you can read again and again and still get swept away. There are so many good mysteries and questions, and the story definitely feeds into the reader’s need to know more. The writing may be a little simple for adult readers, but is well-suited for teenaged readers. Definitely check this one out if you’re looking for an adventure, training for secret societies, or time travel!

Rating: 4 / 5

Quotations:

“The most difficult aspect of my own training was getting past my inner disbelief. The amazing things Arkarian told me about, I had to see for myself. And I was only four, an age when imagination and reality run a fine line. So I decide, as long as I’m careful no one’s watching, to show Isabel a little of what I can do.” p 35

“Now I know I really should tell him, but again he hasn’t stopped for ask, assuming, I guess, that as I’m a girl, a small one at that, I wouldn’t have any physical skills. So I let him explain the basic points on stance and breathing and how important it is to control the mind. He paces through a simple self-defensive movement I learned six years ago in my first lesson. Then I throw him.” p 68

“The Citadel? It’s neither here nor there. You can’t see it in the mortal world, that’s all I know. Arkarian says it kind of dwells in a place between worlds. But I’m assured it’s the safest place in the universe. It can’t be got to, even though both sides inhabit its interior in their transit stages. The problem is, we can’t stay long ’cause time is immeasurable here, and it’s easy to linger longer than you think with too much time passing in our mortal world.” p 115