Jacob’s grandfather use to spin some stories about his own World War Two childhood, some pretty strange ones…stories about the boy who could lift rocks with one hand and the girl who could fly. As he turns into a teenager, Jacob realises they couldn’t have been true. Could they?
An entertaining read from Ransom, based on some odd Victorian photographs he’s collected over the years, the basis of which pull the story along and illustrate it nicely. Some of the pictures are very odd and disquieting. Of particular note is a dentist with no pupils or irises, and the worlds creepiest Santa. I even bought the paperback so I could see the pictures better than on my Kindle. It’s a nice novelty for a story to see the frame it’s draped on, to see the process of turning pictures into a story.
There’s nothing wrong with Ransom’s characters, and his writing style is easy on the eye, flowing along nicely. The descriptions of the Welsh island where Jacob finds himself are all nicely done as well, lending a solid and realistic feel to everything. I would have probably commented more on the bi-lingual nature of Wales, but that’s just a minor point.
So why only two stars? The problem for me was that the story was remarkably…forgettable. I finished this three days ago, and I had to check the book to look up the name of the main character before I started this review.
Nobody stuck with me; I have no urge to see where the next two books are going, where the lives of the characters are taking them next. If you asked me to name Jacob's love interest or his fathers name, I couldn’t do it.
I had heard from at least three people that the synopsis did not accurately represent this book, so when I decided to read it because it was recommended to me by a student, I purposely did not re-read the synopsis as a reminder to what it was about. As it happens, I did enjoy Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I agree about the synopsis as well. When it says
...Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.
it sets the book up for being very different than it actually is.
I think the story is really creative, and I enjoyed the mystery and the time travelling. I also just love the story behind the book. I love how this story was written with genuine antique photographs as a basis. That's awesome.
As a child, Jacob was told many stories by his grandfather, Abraham. He talked about the peculiar children he knew in a special home run by Miss Peregrine. As Jacob gets older, he doubts his grandfather's stories, until Abraham is killed and with his dying breath he tells Jacob to find the bird in the loop. Jacob sees a strange creature that no-one else can see.
No-one believes Jacob. Thinking he is grief stricken and in shock, his parents send him to therapy with Dr Golan. But, when Jacob's Aunt gives him a book that his grandfather wanted him to have, he finds a letter that just may prove that Abraham wasn't crazy and nether is Jacob.
It took me a while to finish the book because I had some other commitments (and I confess I got a bit hooked on Netflix as well.) I swayed back and forth with this book, and since I watched the movie when I was half finished with the book (something I don't usually do) I think I got sidetracked.
However, the idea of the peculiar children really appealed to me. The photographs in the book were very interesting, and a great idea of Riggs to use as a writing prompt. It brought together two of my loves - archives and reading.
This is a great little book for your young adult or pre-teen. You could even read it together as a family book. It can start a lot of discussions about how people who were different were treated, how they are treated now and how we should move forward.
If you liked Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Coraline, or Frankenstein, I think you will enjoy this book.
Join the conversation at my blog discussing the differences between the book and the film:
The story is not great, but entertaining enough.
When I read this, it keep reminding me of the struggle point of view with Professor X and Magneto.
This school is run by a mutant who could transform herself into a bird.
The rest of mutant children have different powers.
The storytelling is okay, not great, but okay.
They trapped themselves in a time loop to save themselves from harm.
Problem with this story is that within a time loop, the time still moving forward, as in you could not move if time does not move forward. So for personal time, it is still moving and these children should become old persons instead of children.
The story made them stop growing up. Which is a sad thing in itself. Even more troubling is that they act like children too. Even if their physical forms stop ageing, their minds should mature over time. The really big problem is that they didn't mature in their minds.
So, with the not so good writing, and the mistakes of understanding time, and old people acting like teenagers. I don't really like it so much.
The only child in the book is the main character who could get into the time loop to meet these mutants.
So why do Jake act like the most thoughtful person in the story? It just don't make sense.
Getting back to the struggle.
It is the struggle of should mutants stay hidden from the rest of the world, or should mutants expose themselves and conquer the world.
Should one stay hidden and be frightened of other humans, or should one use force to conquer over those who fear them?
That's the X-men story. This is no X-men story, as it is not as good. But still, it is nice to have this explore some more.
So 3 and a half stars. It could be worst.