“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.”
This is one of those books, like The Fault in Our Stars or The Eyre Affair, that the internet adores to the point of distraction and downright irritation. You feel that you are not allowed within the circles of the internet if you do not like those books. They are endlessly quoted, endlessly referenced, endlessly rehashed.
And you are always, inevitably, disappointed by them.
(To be fair, my opinion of The Fault in Our Stars has undergone a considerable sea-change since I wrote my review. But still.)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a YA novel following sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman who goes looking for his family history. Specifically, an island off the coast of Wales which holds an old house where, once, his grandfather lived as a war refugee, and came back with tales of impossible children and idyllic sanctuary.
Cue a beautifully atmospheric couple of opening chapters, all creepy mansions and half-glimpsed faces in the trees, with an amazingly strange array of found photographs which tell the story just as effectively and as well as the text does. I was quite convinced, on the evidence of these opening chapters, that I was embarking on a brilliant journey akin to Night Film or House of Leaves (possibly not considering the genre closely enough) which I would enjoy hugely.
Then – something happened which killed all of that suspense and made all that came after the opening somewhat…flat. It was all explained, too rapidly and too completely, and what followed was, essentially, a rather run-of-the-mill YA fantasy novel, complete with creepy insta-love and insufficiently differentiated characters.
There were things I liked, to be completely fair. I liked that the struggle of Jake and his friends was silhouetted against the background of World War II. I liked the idea of the time loops (although, thinking about it, I’m not entirely convinced the time travel actually works – aren’t the children supposed to die as soon as they leave the loop?) and the lore of the peculiars which Riggs creates. But, overall, I found Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be, ultimately, forgettable.