We’ll Meet Again; ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs [2011]

Why I continue to expose myself to Young Adult Fiction, I will never know; I only become more and more frustrated with it. I am clearing failing to remember that YAF is written for emotionally confused teenagers, not emotionally baffled adults.

It was with great enthusiasm that I began Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; brilliant premise, wonderfully written for our young adults, but sadly, not quite enough for me.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. Fiction is based on real black and white photographs. The death of grandfather Abe sends 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, and explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways. The children may still live.Synopsis from GoodReads

I would like to state that there is nothing wrong with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, it works wonderfully, just not to my taste. So, while I feel that this is not the correct way to judge a book, ‘well I’d have written it like this’, stating it now will go on to explain my issues with the novel, and hopefully not put anyone off reading it.

The culture clash between a secluded little Welsh Island and Miami was wonderful and very well utilised, without feeling forced it allowed an isolated set up necessary for Jacob’s adventure. Jacob’s worn down father was a brilliant touch and I hope is further utilised in sequels, it was easy to feel sympathetic for such a truly beaten man, distanced from his father (Abe) and son (Jacob) by their same genetic trait he did not share. The Victorian edge to the story, and my initial reason for reading, was brilliant; it was only a shame that this was not more of a focus. In addition, the children of Miss Peregrine’s home felt more a product of Jacob’s time than the Victorian loop they were isolated too; their frustration at being trapped on the same day in 1940, while realistic, was patronising considering their status as adult minds in children’s bodies.

For every Hero there must be a villain and while the Hallows and their servants the Waits were far superior to the more fallible of other novels, their back story was uninteresting. While this made for an uneven balance of evil over good, Jacob’s individual talent for their discovery made for realistic character progression. The final twist of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is guessable, however, I did not comprehend the extent of it until its unveiling (although, I did wonder why more Waits had not employed similar tactics).

All in all my main frustration came in Emma and Jacob’s burgeoning romance; Emma a ‘child’ in Miss Peregrine’s home, and master of fire, is initially lover of Abe until he goes off to fight the war. Then enters Jacob years later, image of his grandfather and Emma is once again smitten. Emma’s feelings for Abe felt like love where as for Jacob lust and longing for her Abe. While I did feel pity for Emma, unkindly abandoned and disposed of by Abe, as soon as another dashing young man appears he is practically forgotten.

As I finished I got my mind into a spin wondering what Abe knew about Jacob being in the past as Abe grew into the future and if they fought together, I guess only a sequel will tell.

The title of the novel comes from the Vera Lynn song of the same name, which you can hear here.

“We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

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