Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” has been burning up the New York Times young adult charts for the past couple weeks. Second only to John Green, first-time novelist Riggs scored a major hit with a risky work of fiction.
The novel is told from the perspective of a rich, suburban, 16-year-old named Jacob. The beginning sounds cliché, as Jacob is a confused social outcast stumbling through adolescence. The book instantly picks up, however, when Jacob’s grandfather is savagely murdered.
Riggs weaves a fairy tale for the teen generation by blending young adult, historical fiction and science fiction. Jacob must solve the mystery of his grandfather’s death by decoding his last words. This leads him on a journey involving time travel, monsters, the Holocaust and some very peculiar children indeed.
The novel is an instant attention-grabber from chapter one. Riggs’ writing is simple yet contains some brilliant imagery. The protagonist is a highly likeable character, as are the friends he encounters along the way.
The plot line itself is quirky and original, with witty comments and tender moments to boot.
Arguably the only flaw occurs somewhere in the middle of the book. The plot line lags through a period of time travel, and it seems as though Riggs will never get to the point. When he does, though, it is most assuredly intriguing.
The very end of the novel was also questionable. That is not to say it was necessarily a cliffhanger; one major loose end simply never gets resolved. It is an irritant in an otherwise finalized ending.
The best part of the book has yet to even be mentioned. Throughout the novel, Riggs includes actual vintage photos, many of unknown origin, to accompany the story. That’s right: Riggs built an entire fantasy world around a series of archaic photographs. They provide a perfect break from the sometimes heavy fantastic content of the novel.
Reserve a large space on the shelf next to those John Green books; Ransom Riggs is here to stay.