Saturday, January 07, 2012

11 PM book review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Jacob Portman witnesses his beloved grandfather's death at the hands of an eyeless three tongued monster. Because it's so horrific, he is promptly convinced by everyone around him, including his therapist, that it couldn't have been real. But something's wrong, including the strange pictures his grandfather kept in a cigar box. Jacob keeps scratching at the mystery of his grandfather's life and death until he ends up visiting the orphanage that his father grew up in during world war 2, convincing his father that the birds on the little Welsh island would make a worthwhile ornithological study.

Once on the island, he finds the orphanage, but not in the place he expected. And he certainly didn't expect the pictures in his grandfather's cigar box to be of real people, exhibiting their weird abilities. And he didn't expect to get involved with this grandfather's lovely ex-girlfriend.

I picked this up on the recommendation of a co-worker. I really enjoyed this book for the voice and the world building. The description and cover kind of lead you to believe it will be a sort of steampunk X-Men. The author uses found antique photos throughout  to illustrate actual characters, many of which have a cool, spooky quality to it. But as you can tell from the above, it's more dieselpunk. And though the randomness to the Peculiar children's abilities give a sort of superhero vibe, there are hints of deeper order that lead you along a trail to a much more urban fantasy style of milieu, with a fresh supernatural taxonomy. You have to love any series that calls it's creatures "peculiars."

The protagonists voice is cynical but optimistic, and unlike a lot of YA titles, uses language that teens would actually use. Not swearing in the manner of South Park (not that there's anything wrong with that), but swearing in the casually colorful way Holden Caufield might have if he'd actually sworn.

I can't think of anything I disliked without nitpicking, so I won't bother. Miss Peregrine was a short, fresh read with a likable protagonist and fun milieu.

No comments: